Thursday, October 29, 2009

Alaska vs. Ferris State: A history of success

Ferris State is one of those teams that we have historically fared well against. Overall, the matchup is at 25-23-3, but it's tipped in the Nanooks favor the last few years, going 13-1-2 and shutting them out once since 2003. Our last loss to Ferris State was January 2nd, 2004. All time, at home, the Nanooks are 18-6-1 against FSU, and haven't lost at home against the Bulldogs since 2002.

On a normal basis, these stats may say something, but with this season starting out as it has, it may not. Ferris is off to a raging 5-1-0 start so far, sweeping both UConn, and the familiar Robert Morris Colonials in the last 4 weeks, but had a split with Canisius from Atlantic Hockey to open the season. Not sure if this is their best start ever, but it's got to be pretty close.

The Nanooks open up the CCHA season on home ice this weekend. Last year, UA went 8-4-2 at home, and should hopefully improve the scoring this year, and improve that record.

Greenham is still atop the stats list, just behind Faulkner from UNO, who has played about 50 less minutes and faced about 15 fewer shots, and should look to keep a steady defense. The question mark always comes with scoring, but I think that issue has been put to rest, scoring 2 goals on then number 3 ranked Michigan (and notably blanking them). The one fault I see was some issues I saw in the last game against RPI. The Nanooks had some issues with their feet, but they still kept pretty solid out there defensively. With a week to think about it, and all of the line experiments Coach Ferguson did thus far, I'm intrigued to hear of the resulting line combinations for the season. Unfortunately, I won't get to hear of them until I come back next week.

I won't be doing the Twitter updates like I had been this weekend unfortunately because of my trip. But I'll still try to get a recap of some sorts out there next week after I get back.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nanooks Pull in Two More - Recruiting update

The Nanooks recruiting effort has pulled in two more rookies, albeit they won't be joining the team until the start of the 2011 season.

Jeff Earnest signed his NCAA letter of intent (LOI) on October 17th, coming to us from Prince George of the BCHL. The 5' 11" 175 lb 18 year old forward is 16-3-3-6-23 on the stat sheet, and thats all his BCHL stat sheet has to go off of. pulled up no results for the guy either. But, the guy's from Alaska, so he must be good, right?

The other guy, Justin Tateson, a 6' 3" 195lb 17 year old defenseman, who actually signed his LOI back in September, is also in his first year of juniors. Playing for the Drumheller Dragons of the AJHL, he has posted 15-0-2-2-57 stats thus far in his first season. Nothing that really jumps out besides his 57 penalty minutes.....57! That's almost 2 2:00 minors per game! Save for a possible misconduct call or two that I'm overlooking, he looks like he might have a fetish for penalty minutes... Hopefully he'll shape up a bit, but I'm sure our coaching staff had something they liked about him that isn't apparent from his AJHL stat sheet.

For those that found the link that pointed to my blog regarding the 11-team CCHA schedule, I'm sorry but I was asked to remove the post. And understandably so, since I knew about it before the majority of the CCHA members did. Oops. But the scheduling may have to be revised as well for other reasons, so that model may be dumped anyway in favor a newer, shinier one.

Good stuff is on the way too during this off week here on the blog.

As far as games that are happening, ACC plays North Dakota this week, so that should be sufficient humor for the weekend. In WCHA action, Denver takes on Minnesota, who may be looking for revenge after what happened in Grand Forks last week... Michigan also takes on defending CCHA champs BU on Saturday, who got blanked by a different CCHA team last week. Hopefully BU's cranial-rectal inversion went well yesterday...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shoot out: Alaska Nanooks 1, Engineers 1

Well, I'm going to be extremely honest, the Nanooks didn't come to play until the 3rd period. I thought for the first two periods that we didn't attack the puck as well as we did in our previous games. Our defense played very well but our offense wasn't able to get it past RPI, who decided to stuff every player in front of their goalie,  making virtually every shot irrelevant.

In the first period, shots were basically even. RPI made a total 17 shots, with 4 blocked by the defense, 4 off target, with 9 shots on goal. UA made 16 shots but had 7 shots blocked by the defense, 2 wide, and 7 on goal. No goals were scored by either team in the first, as UA's defense played very well, and RPI's defense sheepishly continued to cram everyone in front of the goal...

The second period started off okay, the UA offense still couldn't get anything going their way, but had a real close call off of a rebound. Freshman Andy Taranto had a decent chance just to the left of RPI goalie Allen York that gets deflected out to just out side of the right face off circle that Joe Sova blasted and hit the post. That's pretty much the story of the 2nd period, missed opportunities. Andy Taranto had a wide open net to shoot at that gets deflected just wide, Dion Knelsen had a shot at the rebound that also came up short. The Nanooks attempted 18 shots in the 2nd, with 8 blocked by the defense, 3 off target, and Sova's shot pinged off the post. Compared to RPI's 15 attempted shots, with 5 blocked by the Nanook defense, 2 off the mark, and 8 on goal, with Greenham making 7 of the saves as #16 Brandon Pirri for RPI comes up with RPI's only goal of the evening. But the tale of the tape shines for Alaska, as they held RPI to just three shots in the last 8 minutes, foreshadowing their 3rd period performance.

As the 3rd period started, The Nanooks came on with the fire on, outshooting RPI 18-2 in the period. But it wasn't until the 18:24 mark that Joe Sova blasted one from the right point that the Nanooks were able to tie it up with a man advantage.

OT went much of the same. RPI got 5 shots on goal compared to UA's 3, needless to say, none of them found twine, and much to the crowds pleasure, it goes to a shoot out. How did the shoot out go? See for yourself...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Alaska Nanooks 4 - Robert Morris Colonials 2

A great offensive effort for Alaska tonight, somehow managing to get 49 shots on goal. Obviously, some were better than others, but hey, they got the job done.

The first period went well. Not a lot of opportunities on either side. UAF amassed 15 shots in the first period compared to RMU's 8. Not a lot of those shots were really any good. 11 of the 15 shots came from the Nanooks' 5 on 3 advantage they had for just over 1:40. Some came really close, but a lot of it was a shoot it from the point and let the guys up front get it. Well, it almost worked, as Dion Knelsen had a great chance, but pinged off of the right post. Hate it when that happens. But unfortunately, the Nanooks' failed to capitalize and RMU returned to full strength, deadlocked at 0. There were a lot of things I didn't like seeing in the first period, namely missed passes and poor shots. Normally I would say look for the pass before the shot, but in the first 20:00, it wouldn't have mattered. They got the pucks to the goal, but couldn't  get it past the.....ya know....the guy with all the pads in front... Oh yeah, the goalie.

Luckily for us, our sharp-minded coach must have said some things in the locker room during the break. Nanooks came out of the gate with a mission...Get a goal. Didn't take long for that to happen either as captain Derek Klassen scored a perfect looking goal just 45 seconds into the game. Seriously, it doesn't get better than this. Klassen takes a pass through the slot from Brandon Knelsen on a 2 on 1, and taps it around out of the reach of Ostergard. He didn't have a chance. Nanooks go up 1-0.

Those Colonials didn't like that very much. Right off of the next face off they got aggressive, really challenging the puck and played a nice transition game. Maybe too aggressive... #25 Furman South of RMU took a 2:00 trip into isolation for tripping up Kevin Petovello at about the 5:00 mark. Unfortunately, the Nanooks couldn't capitalize on this man advantage either. In these two minutes, Alaska put 8 shots on goal, with only one of them having any merit. Nanook freshman Andy Taranto had a great shot at it, but missed the net by about a foot. With RMU back at full strength, they scored about two minutes later on what actually was a pretty good goal.

RMU forward Cody Crichton scored on the same thing that Dion Knelsen tried just minutes earlier. Crichton took a pass from Nathan Longpre, then went behind the net to pull an apparent wrap around, but quickly put the brakes on, came back around, and beat Greenham to take the game to 1-1 at 9:50 of the 2nd period. With all things right in college hockey, that should have been Greenham's 1st goal against of the season... But alas, garbage goals count too...

Good thing though, because that's exactly what happened next. Not even two minutes later, Alaska answered again with the first of two goals on the night from freshman Jarret Granberg. Granberg, who had 42 goals and 44 assists in his last season with the Brooks Bandits (he was Co-MVP of the AJHL that year too, ya know) scored his first goal of his NCAA career at the 11:11 mark of the 2nd period. Coming off a shot from Dustin Sather, Granberg skipped the puck just over Ostergard's right blocker to put the Nanooks back up front 2-1.

Then it happens, UA goes down a man as Aaron Gens gets called for hooking. Not really a huge deal, considering the Nanooks killed it off without a problem, but here's the gold nugget of this paragraph. As the penalty expires, Ostergard starts hitting his stick against the ice, as goalies tend to do, but shortly after his second whack.....he broke his stick...right off the handle. All of a sudden, I look down at him from my seat to see his stick flapping as he held it. He ripped off the broken part, which was a good 16" of the top handle, not leaving him much to hang on to. I thought this was a good opportunity to capitalize on the now crippled stick side, but alas, no goal.

But that's OK, 30 seconds later, RMU forward Cody Crichton would take a 2:00 trip to dunce-ville for tripping. Oops. Penalty was called at the 19:29 mark of the 2nd period. Nanook freshman Andy Taranto scores just 8 seconds later. Looked like Crichton was ready for a good break too, but that didn't last long. The goal scoring play started with Sova blasting the puck at the goal from the left point, catching the rebound was Dion Knelsen, but his shot gets deflected wide, but as its trickling towards the far faceoff circle, Taranto picks it up and puts in the net to pull the score up 3-1 with just 23 seconds remaining in the second. But that brings the high scoring second period to a close, as UA lit the lamp 3 times.

The 3rd period started, and Robert Morris didn't look very happy. They attacked the puck and started making some pretty hard hits. But one got away from them not long into the period as Jarret Granberg puts up his second goal of the night. It turned out to be a "right place at the right time" kinda goals, as Carlo Finucci passed it across the crease, and Granberg made a skilled back hand shot top shelf for the score.

Again, RMU wasn't very happy with that, and they came after it hard. Just 25 seconds after Tom Brooks came out of the box the first time from his 2:00 minor for checking from behind, he gets right back in after he's called for charging. He's actually lucky that it didn't turn into a 5:00 major, or a game misconduct, like UAA and RPI exchanged in the early game.

But, UA couldn't capitalize on these either. As much as I don't want to talk about the late goal that RMU scored, here it is anyway. With 53 seconds left, Denny Urban scored. There. But seriously, our defense got a little too relaxed in the closing minutes of the game, and gave up that late goal. Meanwhile, I'm crossing my fingers that Ron Meyers was going to take a shot on goal in the closing seconds to bring the total shots on goal to 50. Oh well, would have been cool to see.

Sadly, UA came up a dismal 1 for 8 on the power play. Oh well, makes that loss stick in more while we add a bunch of minuses to all of their stat sheets.

But anyhow, Nanooks take their first game of the Brice tournament 4-2 over Robert Morris. UAA currently owns the tie-breaker, should that become necessary. 1st tie breaker is goal differential, with UAA at 3, and UA at 2, UAA either has to lose or we have to make sure that we crush RPI tomorrow night...

Third Star: Carlo Finucci
Second Star: Derek Klassen
First Star: Jarret Granberg

I'll also throw Andy Taranto in here as an honorable mention, as he took my vote.

Notably missing from the Nanook line up tonight were sophomore Cody Butcher, sophomore Adam Cardwell, freshman Justin Daigle, and sophomore Derek Bradish. I was also under the impression that Thompson was going to get the nod for the start, considering the warmups, but apparently not...

I definitely think some adjustments to the roster can be made. Cody Butcher really should be put on the power play D line. Both of his goals on the season are from the point on the power play, that of a true sniper. Sova looked good, but a lot of his opportunities went either wide or were deflected.

Interesting fact of the night. This is the first time since we dismembered Wayne State 8-2 in 2002 that we have put this many shots on goal...

Any how, tomorrow's game against RPI should be a good one. Be there at 6:35.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lines for UA vs RMU

Here are the lines for tonight's contest


L1 N. Yaremchuk, D. Knelson, A. Taranto

L2 K. Petovello, D. Klassen, B. Knelson

L3 C. Finucci, J. Granberg, D. Sather

L4 C. Gehon, J. Filzen, R. Meyers

D Lines

L1 J. Sova, A. Gens

L2 B. Molle, K. Odegard

L3 D. Molle, S. Enders

G1 Greenham

G2 Thompson

G3 Rundell

Apparently they are going to go with Greenham tonight instead of Thompson. He should get some ice time though. I'm glad they mixed some of the D lines up tonight. Putting the rookies with the upper classmen. Notably absent from the lineup though is freshman D-man Justin Daigle. Hopefully I will have a reason for that a bit later.

Sitting here watching the mostly empty Carlson Center cheer. An even number of RPI and UAA fans surprisingly. Apparently flights to Fairbanks from New York are pretty cheap right now... That, or their fans are just simply rich...

On another note, I'm told that the boards and the plexiglass at the Carlson Center are going to be replaced at the end of this season. It's bout time....

Also worth mentioning. The new intro video by Mike Martinez, the creator of the space bear intro that got featured on G4's Attack of the Show, is set to debut tonight.

Nanooks face RMU at 7:35PM. Tune into Twitter at for live, in game updates.

Gotta love hockey night in Fairbanks...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who uses Engineers as mascots? Alaska vs. RPI preview

Engineers? Really? That's almost as bad as a Seawolf. But at least I know what an engineer is. With the least intimidating mascot in the college hockey world, the RPI Engineers got in to Fairbanks last night, getting ready to take on UAA and UA this weekend in the 2nd annual Brice Alaska Goal Rush.

Last season, RPI posted a 10-27-2 record in NCAA play, sporting a defense that allowed a whopping 3.38 goals against per game, while the offense was held to just 1.95 goals scored per game. The only team that Alaska and RPI played last season that we have in common was the Miami RedHawks, about a month and a half apart. Miami swept RPI, with Miami scoring a combined 10 goals across two games, compared to RPI's 2 goals. Quite the difference. Alaska split with Miami, winning 2-1, and losing 5-0 at Steve Cady Arena in the 08-09 season.

I wasn't able to dig up any RPI vs UA history, so this may be the first time that Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will ever face each other.

Based on their production last season, look for the Nanook defensemen to shut these guys down. I liked a lot of what I saw in the Kendall tournament in defensive pairings. The Molle brothers look sharp paired together. Their passing clicks and they know what each other is doing with the puck. Great guys to have on the ice in the transition game. Unfortunately Justin Daigle didn't play in the Kendall tournament last week. Not sure what kept him off the ice, but hopefully he'll be suited up this week. His aggressive coverage skills should pair him up with Joe Sova on the PK unit. Sova and Gens should still be paired on the number one defensive line. Enders and Butcher make a great pair on line two, but once the Nanooks get in the groove, look for Justin Daigle and Kaare Odegard, two of our rookie defensemen, paired with Enders and get some ice time. Derek Bradish and Cody Butcher would be a good pair to see as well.

Our forwards will hopefully keep their average of over 4 goals per game this weekend (3 GPG, if you don't include the exhibition game). Chad Gehon, Andy Taranto, and Jarret Granberg have really been good in the offensive zone for the 'Nooks, posting a combined 9 points across all 3 games so far this season, with Taranto having a 3 point solo performance in the Mercyhurst game.

Forward lines should stay pretty consistent. Line one with captain Derek Klassen, asst. captain Kevin Petovello, and Brandon Knelson. Not sure what the official line numbers are beyond here, but line predictions with Ryan Hohl, Carlo Finucci, and Justin Filzen. Dion Knelson, Andy Taranto, and Chad Gehon. Granberg, Meyers and Sather. With the odd-man being Nik Yaremchuk, who has proven to be a very versatile forward.

Hopefully the Engineers can engineer some good goal scorers. It's going to take a pair of them to beat Greenham. Although, with Greenham taking the spot between the pipes last weekend at the Kendall classic, after Ferguson said at the banquet that Steve Thompson would get the start in goal, maybe Thompson starts in both of these games. Maybe Scott made a deal. But it worked out, as he won the Kendall Classic MVP award, and earned the CCHA Goalie of the Week.

Nanooks win it 3-0.

A few RPI and RMU fans have actually emailed me asking about media coverage. All of the Alaska Nanooks home games can be heard live on KSUA, webstream at
And live high-quality video streams can also be purchased through B2 Networks for around $7.

And of course you can always follow my Twitter feed at for live in-game updates.

I've got some great information to share after the games this weekend during the off week. Including next years tournament's participants, CCHA game scheduling changes for the upcoming season, with 11 teams (the first news post with official information).

I'm also sad to say that I won't be able to do the live in-game updates on Twitter for the Ferris State games on the 30th and 31st, since I will be out of town, but hopefully the new information for next season should make up for it. But a game preview and recaps will still be posted.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Game preview: Alaska Nanooks vs. Robert Morris University

This weekend is the Brice Alaska Goal Rush, and our first official NCAA home games. Friday, we take on RMU, and UAA takes on RPI.

So the Robert Morris Colonials... Interesting. Believe me, there isn't much to say here. Last season, they were blown off the ice by SCSU, Ohio State, and of all teams....Merrimack. Yes, they were defeated 3-1 by Merrimack, a bottom-of-the-barrel Hockey East team who were crushed (twice) by UND last week. They were beaten by Ferris State as well, who is a team that Alaska has not lost to since 2002.

Obviously, this is the last year of the now defunct College Hockey America conference, and RMU is being swept into Atlantic Hockey. The interesting part is, this is (apparently) RMU's first time ever playing the Nanooks, so I can't cite precedent here. But the interesting part is last season in the CHA championship game, against Bemidji State, RMU took them to OT, and they ultimately lost to the team that took their automatic bid and drove through the NCAA tournament all the way to the Frozen Four. Sounds slightly impressive.

Well, I've got nothing else. Maybe I'll have to steal (*cough*, Ummm.. use) some info from UAA's blog once Donald get his preview up of "Cigarette University".

Prediction: 4-0 Alaska

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nannoks Move Up

Naturally, after defeating the (previously) number 3 team in the season, the Nanooks have moved up 15 spots in INCH's power rankings. Mind you, this is their first official power ranking poll of the current season, but their pre-season rankings pegged at #30, which my keen math skills tell me that puts UAF at spot #15. More interestingly, Michigan only dropped 3 spots to number 6.  Apparently the guys at INCH think that embarrassing our southern rivals, after suffering a disappointing shut out at the hands of the Nanooks, keeps them in the top 10. I realize that a lot has to do with Michigan having such a power house program, or whatever, but its the same as the BCS in college football. Top spots aren't given to the most skilled teams, rather the most "prestigious"teams that rake in the most attendance/money. Any college football fans out there remember Utah from last year? Yeah, an undefeated team that deserved to be in the national championship game, but barely earned a bowl bid, and used their opportunity to crush Alabama 31-17. Same story from last year pretty much in hockey-land with Bemidji State making the Frozen Four, expected to finish at the bottom of the ladder.

Enough ranting about biases, back to good news. Nanook netminder Scott Greenham earned CCHA Goalie of the Week honors after stopping 43 of 44 shots and posting a shutout against the 3rd ranked team in the conference. Well done, Scott. You earned that one.

I was kind of hoping that Andy Taranto would have picked up the rookie of the week tab, but Derek Grant at MSU had a great weekend as well, but put up slightly better numbers. Collectively, I'd like to see all of our rookies earn a spot on there at least once this season.

Nanooks are 2-0-0 with the Brice Alaska Goal Rush this weekend at the Carlson Center. Show up and show your Nanook pride. Game previews to come.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nanooks Take Second Consecutive Kendall Classic

A great outing by the Nanooks as they come up 2-0 in the Kendall Classic tournament, blanking the University of Michigan 2-0, and routing the Mercyhurst Lakers 5-1. The Nanooks came out hot against the Wolverines, skating well, checking well, and keeping pucks out of scoring areas. I was really impressed with our defense, namely Joe Sova and Aaron Gens. All of our guys really stuck it to the Michigan forwards, forcing turnovers, and neutralizing the rush attacks.

I've talked about all of our rookies before, but its worth mentioning again that this freshman class of hockey players is unlike any others we have seen. Last year's outing really helped our recruiting efforts, and a huge applause to our coaching staff for scouting out and picking up some real quality players. Last year was pretty good too, coming up with Justin Filzen, Joe Sova, Meyers, Bradish, etc, all of which are really starting to shine.

Our upper-classmen are really appreciating all the help they are getting. Last night against Mercyhurst, freshman Andy Taranto and senior Dion Knelsen really clicked, with each of their goals coming off of assists from the other, and both of them coming up with 3 point nights.

And Scott Greenham, what a showing. This guy shouldn't have a single goal against him, but its going to take the same kind of trash goals and redirections in front of the crease to get the job done against him. Right now, his total stats reflect 65 shots against, coming up with 63 saves with only 2 goals against, 96.9% save percentage with only 0.66666666... goals against average across all 3 games so far, posting 1 shutout. Greenham is now 5-0-1 as a starting goalie.

On a similar note, the Nanook defense have killed every penalty so far this season, killing all 12 chances by our opponents.  Our offense is also averaging 4.33 goals per game, and have capitalized on 5 power plays of 17 chances, for a 29.4% power play scoring, well over the sub-10% mark from last season. Definitely something to build on for the season.

The Nanooks will have some more opportunities to build on next week as Alaska enters the 2nd annual Brice Alaska Goal Rush in the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, as they take on CHA teams Robert Morris and RPI.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Alaska Nanooks 5 - Mercyhurst Lakers 1

The Nanooks really took it to the Mercyhurst Lakers tonight, coming up with two back to back wins in the Kendall Hockey Classic against Michigan, and the Lakers. I was under the impression that Steve Thompson was going to get the nod to sit between the pipes, but Greenham comes up with the start.

The first period ended 0-0, with close to even shots (7-11), as both teams played pretty well on both sides of the puck. The Nanooks were a little on the sloppy side on offense in the first, but the blue liners shut the doors on all of Mercyhurst's chances, who came up with a few quality shots that Greenham came up big to stop.

The Nanooks came out in the second, and did they come out BIG, scoring 4 goals in 20 minutes, scoring twice on the 5:00 major power play that was called on Mercyhurst forward Scott Pitt, who clocked Derek Klassen against the boards to punch his ticket to the penalty box. Capitalizing on the 5:00 5-on-4 the Nanooks come up with 2 goals, one of which was a pretty pass across the front of the crease from Dion Knelsen to Andy Taranto, who redirected the pass right to the back of the net for Alaska's first goal of the evening. Dustin Sather also credited for the assist as well. 1:33 later, the Nanooks netted their second goal on the power play opportunity as Cody Butcher blasted one from just outside of the right faceoff circle off a pass from Andy Taranto. Joe Sova is also credited with an assist.

After the conclusion of the power play, the Nanooks up 2-0, some penalties are exchanged, but a bad penalty call against Andy Taranto for goaltender interference, as he got shoved into the crease and subsequently into the goalie by Scott Pitt. Bad bad call on that one. Taranto pleaded his case, but the ref was late for his optometrist appointment, and didn't hear anything Taranto had to say.

With Andy Taranto in the box, Dion Knelsen had a great poke check to steal the puck at the Alaska blue line, and had a shorthanded breakaway opportunity that, sadly, came up short. Great heads up play by Dion, but Ryan Zapolski sniffed his dekes out and saved the breakaway shot.

But, just 47 seconds later, and back at full strength, Dion made Zapolski pay for blocking his shot. Coming off a pass from Taranto off the boards, Dion skated about 12 feet in front of the crease from right to left, then after taking a quick look at the goal, he looked away, and backhanded the puck past Zapolski's right side at the 12:31 mark into the 2nd period. A truly sweet goal by the 20 year old senior.

After that goal, the Nanooks played strong, and time finally dwindled down, but an icing call on the Lakers brought the faceoff back into their zone with just 4.5 seconds left in the 2nd period. Then, as Robin would have said it, "Holy snipe, Batman!" as Ron Meyers made a hell of a backhanded shot off of the faceoff win that Max Strang wasn't quite ready for. Although Filzen technically won the faceoff, the goal was tallied unassisted at the 19:59 mark of the 2nd period. Needless to say, the center ice face off was all that was left of the 2nd period, with a 4-0 score.

The third period started, and you could definitely tell a bit of a jump in their skates, and skated quite hard. Once they got the puck into the Nanook zone, their grinding efforts paid off, albeit with a garbage goal. At the 3:11 mark, Mercyhurst's Kevin Noble took a shot that went high over the left side of Greenham, but Laker forward Derek Elliot caught the pass with his chest, who in true garbage fashion, lunged his chest forward to put the puck past Greenham. The play went under video review, then after looking at it for a minute, the referee called it a goal. Not sure of the official rulings in the case, but I know you can't use your hands. As far as I'm concerned, Scott got another shut out.

But in any case, with the score now 4-1, the Lakers start feeling a sense of urgency, and start challenging the Nanooks defensively, having 3 shots on goal bundled together by the Lakers that Greenham came up big to stop. But Alaska ended their hopes at the 9:20 mark with a goal from Scott Enders from just above the left face-off circle off of a clearing pass from Dion Knelsen. A very nice precision shot with a lot of bodies in front of Mercyhurst's goal, the puck flew through the air and met twine with nothing in its path to lead by 5-1, which will be the final score.

So Cody Butcher gets the game-winning goal in the second period, and Andy Taranto will earn the Player of the Game honors. Across both games, Nanook goalie Scott Greenham comes up with a total of 43 saves on 44 shots against for a total of .977 save percentage and 0.5 goals against average of both games in the Kendall Classic.

Rookie Notes:
After the 3rd goal by the Nanooks, head coach Dallas Ferguson changed the lines up a bit, to get a good look at our rookies, and did we ever. Both of these guys I didn't get a chance to really cover in my initial impressions after the Blue/Gold game, but their showings this weekend really calls for a few comments on these two guys.

Andy Taranto
The leading goal scorer in the USHL a year ago, Andy Taranto really showcased himself tonight, netting a goal and 2 assists for his first 3 point night with the Nanooks. He really has a hockey players instincts. He had two other goal scoring opportunities in this game that came up just short. He was inches away from an uncontested goal early in the 3rd and Max Strang fell over outside the crease, but he fanned it unfortunately. Taranto nearly came up with a hat trick, but came up just short, but he has plenty of chances to really prove himself.

Chad Gehon
Holy cow this kid has wheels. Though he was held off the score sheet in the Mercyhurst game, the Nanook freshman scored the initial goal in the game against Michigan. He has a lot of potential for the Nanooks this season. His speed and his vision will definitely come in handy this season. I've see a lot of good things from him so far, he was skating against Louie Caporusso at one point yesterday. Remember, Caporusso had nearly 50 points last season, and was a Hobey Baker award finalist, and our freshman forward didn't give him any space to work with and, obviously since Michigan didn't score, Caporusso was held without a point, which is very much a rarity.

So I'm listening to UAA get destroyed by Michigan as I write this. It actually makes me feel fuzzy inside. A team that Alaska shut out yesterday is dismantling UAA currently with a score of 5-1 early in the 3rd period. Barring an absolute miracle of UAA scoring 9 unanswered goals, the Nanooks will come back home with their second Kendall Classic title.

Good luck to UAA blogger Donald Dunlop justifying this loss...

Game Preview: Mercyhurst

For the second time in two seasons, UA will play Mercyhurst in non-conference action. This time, in the final game of the Kendall Classic tournament.

Last year in the Brice Alaska Goal Rush tournament in Fairbanks, Scott Greenham got his first NCAA start against the Lakers behind Chad Johnson and backstopped the Blue and Gold to a 5-0 shutout. and I don't expect anything less this year.

Yesterday, in game 2 of the Kendall Classic, UAA was able to defeat Mercyhurst 5-3, as the Seawolf defense did a great job of underachieving, giving up 3 even strength goals. UAA's power play made the difference, capitalizing on 2 of 6 opportunities. I guess UAA was able to hold Mercyhurst on their near double digit power play chances, as UAA buried themselves in the penalty box, cumulatively spending nearly a full period down a skater.

I don't expect Mercyhurst to be much of a challenge in this contest. Head coach Dallas Ferguson has already affirmed that Greenham will be sidelined in favor of freshman Steve Thompson to get some time between the pipes.

Prediction: 5-1

Barring the miracle of UAA defeating Michigan tonight, the Nanooks should come home with their second consecutive Kendall Classic title.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Alaska Nanooks 2 - Michigan Wolverines 0

How the mighty have fallen. Ranked #5 in INCH's national Division 1 hockey rankings, and #1 in most of the CCHA polls, Michigan falls to the might of Scott Greenham, and the Alaska Nanooks.

Tonight was a great night for the Nanooks, coming out strong and skating right with the Wolverines all throughout the first period. Michigan had 3 scoring chances pass by that they weren't able to capitalize on, but no complaints here, as the Nanook defense holds up as we were outshot 12-3 in the first period.

The second period started off a little different. We picked up offensively, and after some grinding behind the net, at the 10:10 mark, Ron Meyers passed it in front of Bryan Hogan to an unattended Chad Gehon, who shot it past the left side of Hogan for the Nanooks first goal of the game. Justin Filzen also got credit for the assist. After the goal, the Nanooks did not back off, holding UM to just 3 shots on goal all period. A strong defensive and offensive stand for Alaska throughout the second period.

The third period took off right out of the gates with both teams skating hard. But it wasn't even 30 seconds into the period that Klassen was called for tripping. During that penalty, UM was only able to put one shot on goal, as Steve Kampfer got robbed by Greenham on a pretty decent opportunity. With Klassen out of the box at 2:24, the Nanooks got back to work.

Coming off a shot on goal in the Nanook zone, Joe Sova took it down the ice, which set up a 3 on 2. Now let me set this up for you, since the signal cut out so bad. Hogan keyed in on Brandon Knelson to his left, thinking that Sova was going to fake a shot, as he tends to do, and pass it to his forward, who had a stride on Chad Langlais. So Hogan bit to the right, and Sova blasted one past the left side of Hogan just outside the slot area to make it 2-0 (unassisted)(Correction: Credit for this assist on this goal was given to Scott Greenham, who earned his first career assist).

After the next faceoff, there was not another stoppage for the next 13 minutes, as Michigan spent most of the time trying to get past the stingy Nanook defense. That didn't happen. The Wolverines got lots of shots on goal, but not a single one made it through the brick wall known as Scott Greenham. Some were better than others, sure, but that didn't really matter. At the 17:16 mark, UM had a player flagged for interference, which I surely thought was going to be a tripping call for knocking down Dion Knelson near the net, but since Dion was playing for the puck, I suppose thats a better call.

So the Nanooks get a break and go on the power play, and are able to keep it in UM's zone for most of the 2 minutes. Brandon Knelson has a great chance to score a goal that pinged off the right goal post, just an inch to the inside and he would have had it, as Hogan didn't have much of a chance at it either way.

The power play ended with just 44 seconds left, and after UM gains possession, Hogan headed for the bench for the extra skater. But UM came up short, but so did a shot toward the empty net by Kevin Petovello, which was picked up about 5 feet short of the goal line, but Ron Meyers poked it away from Tristin Llewellyn, and back to Joe Sova up towards the point, who wound up for a shot that bounced off of Louie Caporusso, the rebound of which was picked up by Petovello, who swung and missed the puck entirely, as the clock ticked down the final seconds of the game. Once UM got the puck back, there wasn't enough time to even make it back to center ice as the horn buzzed to seal the Alaska's first shutout against Michigan.

Player of the Game honors were rightfully earned by Scott Greenham, stopping 23 of 23 shots for a 100 save percentage, and no goals against. Again, that marks Greenham's 3rd shutout in 5 starts, and becomes the first goaltender in Nanook history to go undefeated in the first 5 starts.

Tomorrow, the Nanooks, with Steve Thompson in goal, will face Mercyhurst in game 2 of the Kendall classic, which, assuming we win there, will likely earn Alaska their second straight Kendall Classic title.

UAA is playing Mercyhurst as I write this, and tomorrow they have high, but misplaced and unlikely hopes to defeat Michigan in the final game of the tournament.

Way to go 'Nooks, you've earned this one.

Preview for the Mercyhurst game to come tomorrow...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Michigan, a subjective preview

I am going to put aside my existential rage for a moment and get down to business.

Michigan is for sure a tough team, currently ranked #5 on INCH's preseason rankings. But this is a team that can be beaten. The Nanooks did it last season. In the first meeting in November of last year, Michigan came to Fairbanks and were defeated in the first contest 4-1. My my my, was that a big win. First year head coach Dallas Ferguson takes down Red Berenson's Wolverines. Granted, we lost the second game 3-2, but that may prove my point. We might actually win the first one.

I've been following Michigan's Twitter feed for the last few days. While not on tourist trips to Alyeska resort, they have actually been in Anchorage since Wednesday, so they have had a few chances to play, and a bit of time to get over the jet lag.

One of the big advantages that helps us, is Michigan's loss of one of their top scorers, Aaron Palushaj. Not sure where he went, but he's not on the team. Which is a good thing, because it was his passing skills that got Michigan 2 of the 3 goals in the second game last year. But we can't forget about Louie Caporusso.

As a sophomore last year, he was a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist right alongside Chad Johnson. He posted a 49 point season last year, netting a team leading 24 goals and 25 assists. In the CCHA semi-finals last year, which is our most recent encounter with the guys in the ugly blue helmets, the 'Nooks skated right with them all the way. The Nanooks posted the only even-strength goal of the game, as all 3 of Michigan's goals were scored on the power play. And all 3 of the goals that they scored, Caporusso had a hand in it, finishing with 1 goal, and 2 assists.

That proves my point though, we can not give Michigan ANY chances. They were great on the power play last season, especially late in the season, as they showed us in Detroit. Last season, the Nanooks posted a tied-for-third-best 88.1 power play kill percentage (ironically tied with Michigan), but Michigan's strong(er) power play percentage bested us in that game.

Minimizing mistakes is key. Don't lose the puck, control the pass, stay out of the penalty box, and playing disciplined, strong hockey will win this game for the Nanooks. We can keep up with them, and we're heavier than them (actually, heavier than almost everybody). And in my opinion, we can beat this team.

A David vs. Goliath story maybe, but not as fabled. Michigan isn't as tough as they look. We've beaten them before, and we can beat them again. A team that averaged 1.94 goals per game last year, worst in the CCHA, posted 7 goals in 3 games against against the Wolverines for a 2 and 1/3rd goals per game average.

My take: I see this panning out one of two ways.

Nanooks win 3-1 in regulation, or the game ties at 2-2 through overtime, and Nanooks win in the shootout 2-1 to win the game.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Photos from Last Night's Game

Photos courtesy of Mike Fisher. These and other photos from the contest are available from Mike's photoblog.

Alaska Nanooks 6 - SAIT Trojans 1

First of all, before we get started here, I just want to say that I want our old announcer back. Seriously. A skater has to be on the ice to score a goal. The goal scored at :31 seconds of the second period, he gave credit to Brandon Knelson, who, upon further thought, was not even on the ice at the time of the goal. His brother Dion got the goal. Not to mention the new guy lacks the enthusiasm and vocal prowess

So my 6-0 prediction was actually pretty close, but I should have stuck with my instincts and not gone with the shutout, and I would have been dead on.

The game, expectedly, started off fast and pretty sloppy. Passes were missed, and turnovers were made by both teams. But the Trojans, coming off of their 9-0 loss against UAA on Friday, were looking for vengeance. They were skating hard, fast, and roughing up our players. For about the first 8 minutes of the first period, I counted about 5 penalties that probably should have been called. Then, at about the 10:30 mark, Trojans Brad Plumton (#7) was called for his first of three penalties for interference. Then, 27 seconds later, sophomore Cody Butcher (#24) took a pass at the right point from assistant captain Kevin Petovello, then buried the puck in the back left of the net to make it 1-0 with 9:40 remaining in the first. Brandon Knelson also was credited for the assist on the play. So the Nanook season starts off 100% on power play scoring. If only that could stick, right?

Well it wasn't long after that, that another power play opportunity came and gone for the 'Nooks as Trojan Sean Goodwin (#19) was called for holding at 13:23 into the first period. But it wasn't but 5 minutes later that our Nanook captain Derek Klassen capitalized off of a missed shot from Brandon Knelson that bounced back off of the end-boards and there was nothing between Klassen and a goal but air as Trojan goalie Ryan Nieszner was WAY out of position. Needless to say, Klassen buried one to take the score up to 2-0 to end the scoring in the first period, which ultimately became the evening's game winning goal.

The second period started off very well. Passes were connecting, and plays were going well, and just 30 seconds into the second period, Dion Knelson had a SWEET shot on a 3-on-1 opportunity that SAIT goaltender Ryan Nieszner had no hope of stopping. Coming off a center ice steal by freshman Andy Taranto (#29), who passed it forward to fellow freshman Nik Yaremchuk (#7), and you saw my review of him from last week, he was definitely aware of his surroundings and as the defender came up on him, he fed it to Dion who netted his only point of the night, which unfortunately the hat trick I predicted didn't happen, but oh well... Just after this play, SAIT pulled Ryan Nieszner from the game after 3 goals against (18 saves of 21 shots), and replaced him with Tommy Tartaglione.

Seemingly, after going up 3-0, the Nanooks seemingly eased off a bit, and passing accuracy dropped, and predictably turnovers increased. It wasn't very long before the Trojans finally got on the board when Mike Ullrich tipped Brad Plumton’s shot over Scott Greenham's left shoulder to net their first goal in SAIT's trip to Alaska, and cut the score to 3-1 at the end of the second period.

I'm sure Dallas Ferguson had some things to say to his players during the break, because the Nanooks really tightened up defensively in the 3rd period. They held the Trojans to just 3 shots for more than half of the period, and only 5 throughout the 3rd period. They picked it up offensively as well, playing 14 minutes and 31 seconds of the 3rd period were either in the neutral, or Trojan's zone. But it wasn't until SAIT took two back-to-back penalties to give the Nanooks a 5-on-3 power-play for 1:41. But just 23 seconds later, junior forward Dustin Sather took a pass from right to left across the front of the crease from Andy Taranto and beat Trojan netminder Tommy Tartaglione for the Nanooks 4th mark of the evening.

Now with one of the Trojans out of the box, the Nanooks are still working on a 5-on-4 powerplay with 1:23 left, and just 26 seconds after the face-off from the previous goal, junior forward Ryan Hohl buried the puck on the right side of Tartaglione off of a pass from Cody Butcher with 3:17 left in the 3rd period. Freshman Jarret Granberg also got credit for the assist.

With the Trojans back to full strength, the Nanooks scored again just over a minute after the previous goal. Sophomore forward Justin Filzen got on the board with just 2:01 remaining. With assists coming from Dustin Sather and Ryan Hohl, Justin Filzen took a good shot from straight in front of the goal and put it right in the 5-hole. Sather did a good job blocking Tartaglione's view of the shot, and by the time he saw the puck, it was too late. Nanooks go up 6-1, which will stay that way to the end of the game.

Scott Greenham looked sharp in his first start after assuming the number one goalie position, stopping 20 of 21 shots for a 95.2 save percentage with just 1 goal against. On the same note, the Nanook defense picked up right where it left off last year, killing all 5 of the Trojan's power play chances.

The Nanook power play looked much sharper than last year, capitalizing on 3 of 8 chances for a 37.5% power play scoring.

Stars of the game
3rd Star: Andy Taranto (2A)
2nd Star: Ryan Hohl (1G 1A)
1st Star: Brandon Knelson (3A)

The Nanooks put their mettle to the test next week as they face #5 Michigan on Friday at 5:05PM in the Sullivan Arena. The Nanooks are one of four teams partaking in the Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage this season, going against Michigan (CCHA), Mercyhurst (Atlantic), and our rivals to the south, the UAA Seawolves (WCHA).

Last year, the Nanooks defeated Northeastern (2-2 tie, win in shoot-out), and UConn (5-0) to win the Kendall Classic title. They hope to retain that title next week as UAF enters non-conference play.

I will try to make it to Anchorage next weekend to live-blog the game, but I'm not making any promises at this point. Check back for updates.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Slight Change of Plans

At the request of the UAF Athletics Department, I will be using their official Twitter feed for posting game updates tonight and throughout the rest of the season. Which, in all reality, is probably a good idea since a lot of hockey fans get to the information from, and will only do wonders for the blog.

So my apologies to all of those that started following me on @NanookHockey, but all things considered, the official @AlaskaNanooks feed is where the game updates will be posted. I will still be using the other account, but mostly just for banter that I probably couldn't post on the official feed.

See you at the Carlson Center.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Game Preview: Alaska Nanooks vs. SAIT Trojans

Tonight, the Nanooks take on Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Trojans in the Carlson Center. SAIT provided canon-fodder for our rivals to the south last night. UAA took out the Trojans 9-0 last night at the Curt Menard II Memorial Sports Center. The Trojans are looking to come up here for vengeance, but I'm sure they are going to leave disappointed.

The Trojans have been the ACAC (an independant Alberta based athletic conference (Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference)) champions for the last 3 years. The ACAC is a member oexf the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association. According to SAIT's website, they have won the Canadian Colleges National Championship 6 times. Leading up to last night when I listened in on the Trojan-stomping UAA was taking part in, I was assuming that they would actually be a veritable opponent. I don't think I have ever been more wrong about anything.

I have been asked through the week if I had any thoughts about how the game will go. Well I would expect us to dominate as much as UAA did. Hopefully our scoring improves from last year and we could actually amass 9 goals. I'm never one to expect a shutout, but in this case, I don't expect much from SAIT, especially with their morale as bruised as it is now.

W 6-0

Dion nabs a hat trick in this one.

Be sure to follow Twitter tonight (or refresh this page and keep an eye on the feed along the right) for live updates from tonight's game.