Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nanooks Win the Shootout and the Governor's Cup after a 4-1 Loss

Well ACC got the first goal again tonight, but didn't stop at just one. After scoring four unanswered goals through the first 40 minutes, the Nanooks had some serious soul searching to do. And although they played a fantastic 3rd period, they had just one goal to show for it. A Cody Kunyk power play marker off the rebound that would be the game's final goal.

I hate the fact that it goes to a shootout to decide something this big. It's one thing for an extra point in the conference standings. But another entirely for a title between two archrivals. I'm not in favor of it, but I'll never get my wishes for a best of 3 or 5.

But I'll take it. ACC played a good game. But the shootout experience for the 'Nooks earned the cup victory, the 10th for the Blue and Gold to ACC's 8.

Getting Ready for Game 2 - View from the Locker Room

View from the locker room

Sticks all taped and ready to go.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Nanooks Rent a Mule, Beat the Crap Out of It 5-1

To quote Erik Drygas "What the hell was he thinking?" I have no clue.

With 6 minutes remaining in the game, UAA coach Dave Shyiak got a little desperate and pulled Gunderson for an extra skater to help boost an offense that wasn't even close to producing. You'd think if you pulled your goaltender with that much left on the clock, an empty net goal would be inevitable.

I fail to understand his logic for making the call to pull him that early. But, I'm not a coach, he is. Granted, I don't have a 62-126-24 record either.

Tonight, Colton Beck and Kevin Petovello each add a pair of goals. Andy Taranto with a goal and an assist to round out the top 3 performers for the 'Nooks. Brad Gorham with his only career goal tonight for the junior. Tomorrow, the Nanooks will head down to Anchorage at around noon, get a pre-game meal in and bring their mules back out on the ice for another 60 minute ass kicking.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hide Your Water Bottles

With the CCHA regular season in the rear view mirror, all that's left through the windshield is Anchorage, and the brake pedal might as well be an afterthought.

Since the Anchorage Community College is about the only community college in the nation with D1 hockey, a lot of their "fans" feel empowered to throw a bunch of numbers out there and spew whatever nonsensical verbiage comes to their mind. Diarrhea of the mouth, if you will. It will be pretty interesting if their water bottles will be tethered to the bench. That would be a pretty funny gag.

Nonetheless, I am pretty saddened that I will miss seeing the first Governor's Cup series in quite a while. I'm still in Oregon taking care of some loose ends relating to my mother's passing and won't be back in town for a while.

That said, I'll leave the comment section completely open for anyone to publicly claim superiority. However, after all is said and done, to the victor go the spoils.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spartan Stomping

After a bit of a heartbreaking loss on Saturday against Lake State, the last conference home stand comes against a scrappy Michigan State who is vying for wins. Spartans head coach Rick Comley is about to retire after an illustrious and a rather successful career, having coached several college student athletes such as the Miller brothers Drew and Ryan, who are playing for Detroit and Buffalo in the NHL, respectively.

With both credit to coach Comley and his Spartans, I hope our guys take no mercy against these guys and paste ‘em on our home ice. At the very least for some momentum and some confidence going forward into the playoffs. 

At this point, I'm not making any prognostications to any playoff implications, etc. Going at this one game at a time will be the most important thing. Looking ahead won't do any good with the conference points race as close as it is, especially with almost every other team having 2 games in hand to decide our fate. 

In a very similar situation, MSU has struggled to find consistency in their season. After taking Miami down on a Friday at home in a huge 7-4 upset, the 'Hawks came back with some stomping of their own, and took the Spartans down to size with a 4-0 rout. 

Same against the Wolverines, especially in the Big House for the "Big Chill" where the Wolverines stomped MSU in the ground 5-0 in front of a crowd of over twice the total population of Fairbanks. Since then, the Spartans have defeated them twice. The list goes on. The last time we saw them, we lost a game and tied and won the shootout in the midst of a controversy over one of their goals being ceremoniously waved off. 

That said, I will be missing my first home games of the season traveling to the lower 48 for a bit of a family tragedy. Hopefully the guys can string together a good run and bring back the Governor's cup for me. 


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Nanooks Force a Tie in the Soo, Take the Shootout and 2 Points on Friday

What'd I tell ya? When the opposing defense stifles your top lines, its the grinders that get it done. I'm not exactly sure what fire was lit in Chad Gehon's skates lately, but I hope he can keep it going. While neither of the goals are credited to him, but he was responsible for making them happen. Creating turnovers, and finding the open guy, he got it done.

While this isn't credited as a win per se, it was a step in the right direction from last weekend. Tonight, the guys have another 3 points to play for, and getting all of them would mean a tie for 5th with Ferris State. While Ferris does have some games in hand, their last 2 series against Notre Dame and Ohio State could mean some lost points for the Bulldogs.

But alas, it's time for crunch time, and the guys need to put some goals on the board tonight. They had their chances last night, but couldn't find twine. Last night, I thought they did a particularly good job of getting second chances. After the initial shot, they collected the rebound and kept things going, kept the puck moving. I like that, and I'd like to see more of that tonight. If they can do it enough to tire the defense and put Kapalka on his toes, good things will happen.

Speaking of good things, did you hear about Anchorage? Yeah, they still suck. Excited for the Governor's Cup series yet? Get pumped.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Headed to the UP to Take Care of Business

I don't think I need to say that the importance of these last 2 series is high. With 12 points left and 5 points removed from a first round bye (6 for home ice in the 2nd round) and with these last two teams nipping at the heels, the guys need to punch it and drive their way into the playoffs.

Can the Nanooks still make the NCAA tournament? Possibly. While the outlook isn't great, the possibility that a team above us could fall, and depending how the boys in Anchorage finish, and how we do against them, could stamp fate's ticket. But, winning the last 6 games of the regular season is obviously going to be critical.

That said, I wonder what coach Ferguson's strategy will be heading into this series. As Sunday's game against Ferris went on, I noticed Cody Kunyk kind of strayed from his centering position and started attacking the puck more in the offensive zone, which is exactly what led to his 10th goal of the season that night. The question is, was that instinctive, or a guidance from the coach. Petovello has done this through out the season, roaming the offensive zone trying to make a play, but I think the difference here comes down to experience. Kevin has a lot better and making better decisions without the puck than Kunyk has throughout the early part of the season, but that seems to have changed. Cody has made a lot of improvements changing his game, making better positioning decisions in terms of attacking the puck and creating turnovers.

But guys like Kunyk, Petovello, and other top line guys in Granberg, Taranto, and Beck are not going to seal a game for us. It's going to be the guys on the deeper lines and their contributions that are going to play into the outcome. Our top lines can compete with the rest of them, and keep the game even, but it's guys like Gehon, Klassen, Finucci, Meyers, Filzen, Hohl, etc. whose scoring can make the difference.

Look at the Ferris State series back in Grand Rapids, the 4-3 OT win for the Nanooks was made possible by a goal from the 3rd line, as Klassen buried the second goal of the evening from Meyers and Gehon to put the Nanooks up 2-0 at the end of the first period.Without that goal, the game may not have ended in our favor. It may as well have ended as a 3-2 loss in regulation with everything else remaining the same.

If you look at the 4th game against Michigan, the last of the series at Yost, the game might have ended 4-2 if that Gehon-Filzen-Hohl line didn't get that goal on the rush. It's up to these lower line guys to, at the very least, start creating momentum and getting the play going their way, getting the defense on their heels and making them work, wearing them down.

Michigan's D held, give them credit, but we aren't facing a defense like Michigan's for the rest of this regular season. Not even a defense in the top 20 in the nation left on the agenda, so the opportunity for these lines to add some scoring is there. And getting these lines going and getting some goals and getting the strategy in their minds heading into the playoffs could be the key to make a run for it.

The scoring strategy remains the same, generating offense by moving the puck in the offensive zone, and creating some shooting lanes. Obviously you have to shoot the puck to score, but after they take that first shot, regaining possession and getting those second and third chances are where the goals are at. The guys had their chances against Ferris State, but Pat Nagle played a hell of a series, and the guys are going to have to face another good goaltender in Lake State rookie Kevin Kapalka. He's been somewhat inconsistent this season, but he's appeared to have gotten on a bit of a roll as of late.

Throughout the first part of the season, the Lakers struggled, to say the least. Their offense wasn't shut out, but they couldn't slow down the other team from scoring. They allowed 10 goals in a series against Michigan, 6 in a single game against Denver, 8 in a series against Notre Dame, the list goes on. But a series of exhibition games throughout a tour of Ontario in early January seemed to have most importantly tuned their defense, and likely Kapalka's confidence.

Kapalka and his Lakers have gone 3-1-0 in their last 4, including a series sweep of the Northern Michigan Wildcats. All 4 of those games were on the road before returning home this weekend with the Nanooks coming to town.

This trip is also one of those ridiculously long trips that most teams hate about coming to Fairbanks, but in a much different way for our guys. For those that don't know, Sault Ste Marie, MI is very similar to Kansas City in how the border between Kansas and Missouri actually bisects the town. While Kansas City spans two states, Sault Ste Marie spans the border of two countries, right on the border of Michigan and Ontario, separated by a body of water connecting Lake Superior to Lake George and Lake Nicolet. While I'm unaware of the Nanooks' specific travel plans, in years past its often included about 10-12 hours of flights and layovers to get to Green Bay, Wisconsin, followed by a 6 hour bus ride to get up there. While Sault Ste. Marie has an airport, it appears to be the difference of about $750 per ticket to fly right in, versus going the long way through Green Bay.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nanooks Fall 3-2 as Ferris State Completes Sweep on Super Bowl Sunday

The biggest game of the NFL concluded about one hour before the puck dropped at the Carlson Center. As North Pole native Daryn Colledge and the rest of the Green Bay Packers hoisted the Super Bowl trophy that bears the name of the legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi, the Nanooks were in the locker room preparing for a game of their own.

I will apologize in advance for the brevity of this post, but seeing this series unfold as it did stings a bit (not to mention I have an early morning tomorrow). Ferris State is a good team with one of the best goaltenders in the country, and although the Nanooks tested him at times, they couldn't put one past him when it counted.

Getting some penalties called (call them what you will), the 'Nooks found themselves in a 4 on 4 scenario that turned out they didn't want to be in. 2 bang-bang goals for Ferris State put the 'Nooks down 2-1, which Dustin Sather would equalize with his first of the season to put the Nanooks back in it going into the locker room before the 3rd period.

The game winning goal for Ferris State came on a heartbreaking play. Greenham made a mean save on a point blank save, but the puck came to Mike Fillinger behind the net who took a good shot to bank it in the net off of the inside of Greenham's pad.

With the loss, the Nanooks now firmly sit in 6th place with 12 points remaining on the table. The Nanooks make the long trek to Soo in Michigan's upper peninsula to take on the Lake State Lakers before returning home to close the CCHA regular season with a series against the Michigan State Spartans.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Bulldogs Bite the 'Nooks 2-1

After stepping off the plane just over 24 before stepping on the ice, Ferris State didn't seem to have any jet lag at all like I thought they would.

The first period got off to a bit of a different start, there was a bit of back and forth action, with some good pace and quality scoring chances. But with about 2:30 remaining, Greenham made a hell of a save on a bit of a breakaway by Eric Alexander, but Fillinger was there behind the net to collect the rebound and got it out front to Travis Oullette who buried his third of the season past Greenham under the glove. While the Nanooks had their chances, especially on two power play chances, they couldn't get any past Nagle as the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead to the locker room.

The second period, while a number of chances were generated, the Nanooks just couldn't bury any. Nagle really had a sharp game through the first two periods (and the whole game, really). With about 12 minutes left, the Nanooks had some momentum going but couldn't capitalize. Matthew Kirzinger took a pas from linemate Mike Embach, and danced around the Nanook defenders and buried the goal. It really was a good goal. But thats when the emotions started to drain. The life seemed to get sucked out of the team, but one guy noticeably played with some fire and intensity every shift, and he got rewarded.

With time running down in the third, and the Nanook net empty, Jarret Granberg was rewarded for his efforts, and aside from the goal, I thought Jarret really had a great game all around. He played with an intensity that nobody else matched. And he was always looking to make a play. Now I'm not saying the other guys didn't play well, but Jarret definitely caught the eye.

Tomorrow though, the guys are definitely going to have to put some serious pressure on Nagle. Ferris' defense rides on them keeping bodies away from the net and giving Nagle space to work. The 'Nooks disrupted that in the third and eventually got one in. As the game went on, you could tell Nagle was getting tired and getting slower. Keeping him working, and making him move is going to be key tomorrow.

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us, and while my Packers jerseys have emerged from the closet, tomorrow night it's all about Nanook hockey. With this W, Ferris moves to sole possession of 5th with a 2 point advantage over the Nooks in the standings. See you at the game tomorrow.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Game Day Saturday

Definitely a key series for the Nanooks going forward. From the initial line charts, it appears that Bulldog net minder Pat Nagle may ride the pine pony tonight as Taylor Nelson looks like he may get the start. While that is unconfirmed at the moment, since we won't know for sure until the starters are turned in. 

Ronnie Meyers is back in the lineup this weekend, after sitting out last weekend against OSU recovering from an injury, and getting him back should be a boost to the guys momentum with his high energy. 

Without further ado, here are e lines for this evening. 





Ferris State




Pre-Game Distractions

I gotta admit, having a Friday night off from everything was kind of nice. Although I did write the preview, and a bit late, I admit but having the night "off" was a bit relaxing.

I did want to start with something that completely slipped my mind earlier this week, and as a consequence, the video appears to no longer be online...

Jamie and the crew at KXD13 put together an awesome story of the group that profiled the group that brings the humongous Nanook to life at the Carlson Center before each game for the players to skate through as they come on to the ice. I'll have to see if I can get my hands on the video and post it for all to see...

And lastly, Nanook recruit Michael Hill set the franchise goal scoring record for the Santa Fe/Topeka RoadRunners last night, scoring his 29th goal of the season and 60th of his career. Michael and his golden stick will be in action yet again tonight at 4:05PM AKST. Audio (free) Video ($7)

Remember, games are tonight and tomorrow at the Carlson Center at 7:05PM. The Nanooks have an opportunity this weekend to make a move up the conference standings, as Western Michigan got caught looking ahead last night, losing in a shootout to Bowling Green. While Western plays again tonight, all 6 points remain at stake between Ferris State and the Nanooks this weekend, and it's going to be a playoff-type atmosphere for the Nanooks.

“You’re getting really close to the end of the season, so you anticipate close games, playoff-type hockey. That’s got to be our mindset going in,” Head coach Dallas Ferguson said in an interview with the News-Miner. “Every game is not going to be like [last] Saturday, where we get good fortune and a lot of pucks going into the net. It’s going to be tight, close-checking games and we’ve got to be prepared to play in those types of games."

For those out of town, be sure to catch the game via any of the online channels. KSUA (Audio, free), AmericaOne (Video, $7), Twitter (Text, free, interactive).

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ferris State in Fairbanks - Revving Up the Scoring Engine

With the Nanooks' offense kicking it in to gear, its time to rev up the RPMs in the engine. Pat Nagle is just as stingy of a netminder as Greenham is, and the guys will have to get into high gear in the offensive zone to get pucks past Nagle.

Ferris State boasts a stingy defense surrounded around him too, just like I mentioned before. The difference is a Bulldog offense that has plummeted to the 5th worst in the country at 2.21 goals per game. Granted, the Nanooks are still technically considered bottom tier, but that is certainly picked up. Going back to the Notre Dame series, the 'Nooks have scored 15 goals in their last 6 games, 2.5 goals per game, or 10 goals in the last 3 games, 3.33 goals per game. Certainly better than the 2.35 goals per game average the Nanooks have posted thus far.

The difference has been the rise of guys like Nik Yaremchuk, and Cody Kunyk, who have added immense depth to the Nanooks roster. 8 Nanooks have registered 12 or more points, and Carlo Finucci isn't far behind with 9. While those numbers aren't necessarily the highest in the nation, they do indicate that the lines have a lot of balance. Last year, the Taranto-Knelsen-Sather/Yaremchuk line accounted for nearly 70% of the team's total scoring between them. Not so much the case this year. The guys are playing with and without the puck very well. Although they haven't scored a lot of goals, they aren't allowing very many, either. Going against Pat Nagle and the 7th ranked Ferris scoring defense will be a test for the Nanooks in the offensive category. Getting some strong goals, and even some solid scoring chances would be a great indication of offensive production heading into the last part of the season.

While I don't see this game being very high scoring, I don't imagine Ferris comes out with a win this weekend, especially after getting hung up in travel issues with the snowstorm (hence the delay to Sunday...), I won't bet against Greenham, who has been quite hot as of late. Nagle is a great goaltender, but that 6 goal spark Ohio State let up last week hopefully should feed some momentum into a Nanook offense that's needed a bit of a horsepower boost. I guess Kunyk remembered the nitrous last week...

OK enough car references. As I already mentioned earlier this week, the games have been pushed back a day. If you already had a ticket for Friday's game, those tickets will be honored on Sunday. So don't party too hard for the Super Bowl (which Green Bay wins, just throwing that out there...) and don't get too hammered before heading to the Carlson... Games start at 7:05PM both nights. See you there.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday News Day

Due to the epic snow storm raging down in the states, Ferris State has had to reorganize their travel plans, and as a result, Friday's game is now being moved to Sunday, so the series will be Saturday & Sunday, both at 7:05PM AKST. I recall another sporting event going on Sunday, but can't seem to put my finger on it... Oh well, hopefully its not that important, and shouldn't conflict. The normal coach's Face-Off luncheon normally scheduled for Friday has been cancelled this week.

Secondly, it was announced yesterday that one of our senior alternate captains Bryant Molle has been named a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award.  This award prides itself on the four C's: community, character, classroom, and competition.

Taken from their website:

The acronym “CLASS” stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®.

The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award celebrates the loyalty of seniors that honor a four-year commitment to their university. The Senior CLASS Award® recognizes these student-athletes for great achievement during competition and in their community while staying in school.

Fans can vote for this year's winner online.

A lot of things to go over....

Scott Greenham has been selected as the goaltender of the week for the first time this season by the CCHA after the sweep of Ohio State. The junior from Addison, Ontario had an amazing series this past weekend and its nice to see him honored for it. Scott has a 1.98 goals against average with a .927 save percentage to boot, and he'll be going against Pat Nagle from Ferris State, who is the only other netminder in the CCHA with a sub-2.0 GAA at 1.96. I wouldn't expect this next series to be a high scoring affair...

I'm a bit late to the party on this, but Ronnie Meyers has earned a select spot in Nanook skaters' history, nabbing a finalist nomination for the 2011 BNY Mellon Hockey Humanitarian Award. The award is given away each year at the NCAA Frozen Four right along with the Hobey Baker. Some call the Hobey Baker the Heisman of college hockey, the epitome of college hockey awards. While the Hobey certainly rewards the accomplishments of players on the ice, the Hockey Humanitarian rewards those for what they do off of the ice. Meyers is part of a contingent of Nanooks who volunteer at the Denali Center every Monday, playing games and various activities with senior citizens. During November, he donned a mean mustache, and lead the team in a worldwide fundraising effort known only as Movember. Ronnie and the team raised well over $1,000 dollars to fund the fight against prostate cancer. The Hockey Humanitarian award is not an award for the best hockey player. It's "The annual award to college hockey's finest citizen."

Cody Kunyk has won the race to 20, nabbing his 20th point in a 3 point game against Ohio State on Saturday. Cody is the new leading scorer for the Blue and Gold, now heading into the second weekend of this home stand against Ferris State.

While the series in Michigan against Ferris earlier this season was a pretty close battle. Last years match in the Carlson Center was the first home sweep of the season for the Nanooks. The Nanooks have not lost a game against Ferris in Fairbanks since 2002. History is on our side, here...

Moving farther down the calendar, the University is hosting a Seawolf Taco Feed in what can only be described as one of the funniest slogans ever. "What's a Seawolf? It's what's for Dinner!". The fish itself is an Atlantic Wolf fish, flown in from overseas. It's the closest thing anyone can find to the mythical creature, and I hear its pretty tasty. The meal itself coincides with game 2 of the Governor's Cup series played down in Anchorage. During the food fest, the game will be shown on a big screen in the Patty gym. A partitioned "wet" section will also be accomodated, with a cash-only bar. Tickets are $20 for the whole package, you can pick one up at any remaining home game.

For those who actually wish to go to Anchorage, the title sponsor of the cup Alaska Airlines is offering a discount between Fairbanks and Anchorage for travel dates between 27th and 29th. Just enter the discount code EC7406 at when making your reservation. UAF Student Activities is also chartering buses down to Anchorage. You can sign up at the UAF Student Activies Office in the Wood Center. The cost is $30, which nets you a ride down to Anchorage, a ticket to the game, a t-shirt, some noisemakers, and a pretty hefty discount at one of Anchorage's hotels. The bus leaves early Saturday morning from the Patty Center, which will get you into Anchorage in time for the game, and take you back to Fairbanks on Sunday. I've heard that a ton of students have signed up, and are drafting a waiting list to try to get yet another bus involved. About 85 students made the trip last year, and I know that they are well over that now. The Sullivan is going to get themselves a real student section. They just won't be rooting for the home team...