Friday, October 28, 2011

Game Day - Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold

Game Info 
Live Audio: 820 Sports (Free) 
($10/month subscription covers both games) 
Live Stats: OSU GameTracker 
Twitter: @NanookHockey

After yesterday's game, a win seems even more crucial now than it did yesterday as the conference leaders are pulling away while the Nanooks still search for their first win in the conference. It's kind of unfortunate too, especially when you consider how much the Nanooks outshot and outplayed the Buckeyes yesterday in the latter parts of the game. You've got to give Cal Heeter credit. For a goaltender who's never beaten the Nanooks, he sure played like he wanted to. We'll have to keep the pressure on him again tonight, start digging for those 2nd and 3rd chances at the puck and get them to the back of the net.

I haven't received lines yet for Ohio State, but here's the line chart for Alaska.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Game Day - Buckeye Beatdown

Game Info
Live Audio: 820 Sports (Free)
($10/month subscription covers both games)
Live Stats: OSU GameTracker
Twitter: @NanookHockey

These Thursday games are a rarity, and they are really screwing with my schedule. I can't imagine what the players are feeling like. I'll bet though that they are looking forward to having a weekend off, save for travel. I pretty much covered everything from the scouting report posted earlier today. So, without further ado, here's the lines.

Scouting Ohio State

Bench boss Mark Osiecki came to Ohio State last season, bringing with him a renewed energy to the program, and a shot at success. After a so-so first year, posting a 15-18-4 overall record, Mark has brought in 12 new freshmen to renew that spirit and drive in the team. And so far, it seems to be paying dividends as Osiecki's Buckeyes sit in 2nd place in the conference this early in the season.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nanooks Rally to Tie WMU 2-2

Wow. Yet another horribly officiated game. I can not believe that someone else didn't see the same game that I did. I have a feeling that someone will be receiving a letter later this week to this effect. Seriously, you can't lower your shoulder and run our goalie without getting a penalty. Trevor Elias, I'm looking at you. That was a dirty play and everyone that saw it knows it. I can not fathom what the officials saw that made them decide not to call it. That deserves a second look, and I hope repercussions follow. That hit was blatant, and with clear intent to injure. Just classless.

You also can't take shots at Andy Taranto's head while he's down on the ice, and rip his helmet off without a contact to the head penalty. I don't understand that no call either. Now I'm not sure who actually did it, but contact to the head is a pretty well defined offense. I know a lot of it is new verbiage and such, but it doesn't get clearer than that. Good on Andy for not retaliating, that shows quite a bit of poise. Had that have been me down there, that might have been my last game for a while as I would have come up swinging.

On that note, unfortunately Ben Warda might have seen the ice for the last time for the next few months. Going hard behind the net and something happened with the planting of his foot, and he twisted awkwardly and went down. I believe the official disclosure will be something like "severe lower body injury", but he clearly broke something. It doesn't look good.

As far as the actual game goes, I thought the Nanooks actually played well for most of the night, despite playing short handed for approximately 1/3rd of it. They responded well in the face of adversity and coming back to tie the game after being down 2-0. Yaremchuk and Taranto had 2 solid goals. Yaremchuk almost had another one early on that was millimeters from crossing the goal line, hitting the inside of the post. The horn went off and all of that, but the puck didn't cross the goal line. After going to a video review, it was right there but no goal.

After overtime, the shootout did not go the Nanooks way. The initial goal by Beck was a good one, but Slubowski stood tall in goal for the Broncos. After seeing him play tonight, I suspect he'll start getting the bulk of the starts for WMU along the way this season. He's a phenomenal goalie. Definitely one to keep an eye on. I'm also going to have to suggest that Frank's nickname be established as The Big sLubowski. Or just "The Dude" for short.

The Nanooks have a short week to get ready for Ohio State. The team leaves Monday night for Columbus to get ready for a Thursday-Friday series at Nationwide Arena. They moved the games back to avoid conflict with a big football matchup between Wisconsin and the Buckeyes in the 'Shoe. I'd be interested to hear if any players take advantage of that and get to go to that game. That would be a pretty cool experience to be in one of the largest stadiums in the US packed with 100K+ people. I'd jump on that. Until then, I'll keep you posted on any further developments with followups from this game.

Also a big thanks and shoutout to all of the parents who made it up for parents weekend. Not the greatest result, but a fun weekend to say hi get to know a lot of you. I know I missed a lot of you as well, but there's only so much time! I look forward to meeting a lot more of you as the season goes on. As always, feel free to send me an email! Just click the link to the right and drop me a line!

UPDATE: The Post-game Press Conference is now up. For those of you who seem to be misinformed about what happened, feel free to fast forward to 4:30. For those of you who still choose to live with the blinds closed, don't worry I will try to get video for you.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Game Day Saturday - Resetting for Redemption

 Game Info
Live Video: AmericaOne
Live Audio: KCBF 820
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter: @NanookHockey 
Coach Ferguson proclaimed that the focus after last night was to reset and come back focused on 60 minutes. And no I'm not talking about the news show. Last night was not a great showing of Nanooks hockey, but there were some shining moments after taking a look at the stat sheet. For example, the Nanooks dominated the faceoff circles going 45-28, led by Justin Filzen 14-5 record. Filzen was the faceoff leader two years ago under Derek Klassen's captaincy before losing some significant playing time last season. Glad to see him get back to that level.

After last night, the lines remain nearly the same. After dropping Matt Gates from the lineup as a game time decision last night, Gator will get in the lineup tonight replacing Garrick Perry at the right wing spot on the 4th line. Trevor Campbell will also get the go for tonight after many suspected that he wouldn't after that costly penalty in the third period last night. The truth is, the Nanooks are down to six defensemen with veterans Michael Quinn and Cody Butcher sidelined due to injury. So not much of a choice there either way. I've stated already that I didn't think his hit had any bad intentions, and I'm glad that coach Ferguson didn't have to take any extreme measures to swap around players.

On the Western side of the ice, head coach Andy Murray has elected to swap goaltenders going with freshman Frank Slubowski who has yet to allow a goal in his collegiate career. Mind you his only game was against Alabama-Huntsville, but still an impressive stat. Also Dennis Brown will sit in favor of newcomer Matt Stewart on the blueline.

Without further ado, here are the full line charts...

The Snowball Effect: WMU Defeats Nanooks 4-1

Tonight seemed to be one of those situations where you get to the top of the hill quickly, and then the snowball starts to roll and get bigger and bigger until it eventually crushes something at the bottom. I will say though, that before I get any farther with this, the officiating in this game was about as bad as the Boston Red Sox this year.  Honestly, who call minor penalties to BOTH teams for too many men on the ice when the puck doesn't even touch anyone as it glances by the bench?  Also, Ronnie Meyers' breakaway that was eventually nullified was NOT offsides. I was right there on the line, he was on sides all the way. But anyway, I digress...

In the first period though, the Nanooks held their own, and capitalized on a chance as Granberg came out of the box (on a crap call, mind you) and perching his stick on the net mouth and buried a feed from behind the net courtesy of Carlo Finucci. Boom. Up 1-0. And from there on, the Nanooks seemed somewhat in control of the flow of the game. Of which didn't last too long

After the period ended though, that's where the snowball started to roll down the hill. Into the second period, the Broncos didn't take but 2 minutes to knot the game up with Ben Warda nabbing a goal. Visualize the snowball start to roll. Once the game started to go on, Western started to control the play by their strong extended possessions, and their controlled forechecking and backchecking.

With that snowball continuing to roll, the Nanooks really started to skate a little flat. They seemed to really have lost a lot of their drive after Western scored the tying goal, and before you knew it, the Broncos popped in two more before the end of the second period. That snowball is pretty massive and rolling pretty fast by now.

At the bottom of the hill, about half way through the 3rd period, the Broncos scored goal number 4 just as that mythical snowball crashed at the bottom of the hill.  The goal came after Nanooks freshman defenseman Trevor Campbell took an unfortunate penalty that found him hitting the showers early. In an unfortunate series of events, Trevor checked a player tight who appeared to lose his footing. As he fell, Trevor's momentum continued to drive his opponent into the boards from behind. I'm not 100% convinced that it was purely intentional. I know Trevor has some hard hits to his credit, but I don't think he intended for that hit to happen like that. And as a result, both he and his team paid for it. Listening to the post-game press conference afterwards (I wasn't able to attend this time around...) you could tell that Coach Ferguson was not happy in the slightest about that penalty.

The Nanooks almost got some good scoring chances off of it though, too. But eventually WMU was able to generate a shot, and they were able to get one through to net the final goal of the game.

Coach Ferguson went on record to say that he wasn't happy with how his team responded to adversity tonight. However, this proves to be a good learning opportunity here early in the season for a lot of the new guys to learn from. Tomorrow, look for the guys to rebound, and look for vengeance. If you're a Western fan, expect tomorrow's game to have a much different result.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Game Day Friday - Points on the Line

Great showing at the coach's luncheon earlier this afternoon. Good comments from both coach's and good responses from Western head coach Andy Murray to the onslaught of questions. His experience should really bode well for this Broncos team.

I was really impressed with their skating on Wednesday. As I said in my post, I really respect this team and I think our rosters match up very well. Should be an interesting series.

Game Info
Carlson Center, Fairbanks AK
Western Michigan Broncos vs. Alaska Nanooks
Live Radio:
Live Video:
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter: @NanookHockey

Without further ado, here's the lines for tonight's game.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Scouting the Broncos

If there is any team out there that I had to say matched the Nanooks, it's Western Michigan. They've got a roster full of talented upper-classmen, and nine freshmen primed to make an impact for the Broncos this season.

Junior goaltender Nick Pisellini returns to his spot between the pipes, so far going 1-0-2 backstopping a blowout, and two back-to-back ties against a talented team in Union. Last season, the Nanooks clashed with WMU right out of the holiday break and caught a fresh and hot Jerry Kuhn in net after Pisellini found himself sidelined due to injury.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nanooks Win Card Game, Defeat UNO 4-1

I was wondering how UNO would respond after taking one on the chin Friday night against UAA. They definitely played more aggresively, but I think their young roster just weren't able to keep pace with the depth on the Nanooks bench.

That was pretty apparent when Colton Beck was left unchallenged at the front of the net, and if you give a guy like him any room chances are you're gonna pay for it. And that's exactly what happened. Taranto found Beck in front, and Beck got a shot on Massa, but he made a good save but left a juicy rebound and Beck had no problem finding twine. Too bad he can't get a goal AND an assist on the same score line, but Taranto and Gens were equally deserving.

Less than a minute into the 2nd, Aaron Gens took a tripping penalty but as it was winding down, Nik Yaremchuk made the shot of his life. That rising slapshot from just inside the blue line very easily was the goal of the tournament. Watching it from the booth down on the ice was just unreal. Given the location of the shot, and the lack of traffic in front of him, I'm surprised that the goalie didn't get the save, but watching the replay that puck just barely snuck in under the crossbar just over the goalie's left shoulder. But it was just a great opportunity. That's what he had there tonight. That's what he earned there tonight. Hell, if he takes that shot 10 times, he might miss 9. But not that shot. Not tonight...

Anyway, props last night went to Meyers and Thompson. Tonight, props go to Nolan Youngmun for his first collegiate goal. Younger picked off a pass in the neutral zone and had a 2 on 1 chance with Adam Henderson in toe.  Nolan looked for the pass but hit the defender's skate and right to the back of the net. Great play by the freshman from Anchorage.

I also have to retroactively give props, last night Garrick Perry scored his first goal, also unassisted. I recapped it, but didn't throw in the fact that it was his first collegiate goal! Sorry!

Colton Beck capitalized on a turnover in the Nanooks offensive zone, and Massa didn't even have a chance. A quick stick plus high shot equalled goal number 4. Easy equation, really. Unfortunately, the math for the tournament win isn't quite as easy. ACC scored 9 goals, Nanooks scored 9 goals. However, UAA was a +7 in goal differential, the Nanooks were +6. So, the hardware gets to live in Anchorage, but congrats to them. Seriously. I thought they played a great couple of games, and they look like a pretty good team. Should be pretty interesting to follow them this season and see how things pan out come February.
EDIT: So this new Blogger format is really starting to aggravate me. I somehow turned on some approval type of process, and this post got stuck Saturday night. I went to look for comments tonight and starting freaking out about what happened to the post. Sorry for getting this out late. At least I know where to check now.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Game Day - Nanooks Versus Mavericks

Saturday, October 15
4:05 p.m.    Alaska Anchorage Seawolves vs. Mercyhurst Lakers
                    Live Video    Live Stats    Live Radio
7:05 p.m.    Alaska Nanooks vs. #15/16 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks
                    Live Video    Live Stats    Live Radio


Fairbanks (KXFX Fox 7) - Tape delayed
Alaska vs. Mercyhurst, Friday at 11 p.m. AKDT
Alaska vs. Nebraska-Omaha, Sunday at 4 p.m. AKDT

Anchorage (GCI Channel 1) - Live
Alaska Anchorage vs. Nebraska-Omaha at 5 p.m. AKDT
Alaska Anchorage vs. Mercyhurst at 4 p.m. AKDT

After a first night win, the Nanooks are looking to pick up the pace and drive the nails into UNO's coffin. After watching the game between UAA and UNO, I expect this game to get pretty physical, and a much quicker pace than the Nanooks played last night, which is exactly what coach Meisner alluded to in the post game presser.

I can't imagine that UNO is too happy about their goose egg against ACC last night, either. However, their main disadvantage is as clear as their roster; 15 of the 20 players dressed for UNO are either Freshmen or Sophomores. Should be interesting to see how their experience, or lack thereof, will play into rebounding for game 2.

But anyway, here are the lines for both teams. No real change for UA, except that we'll see Greenham between the pipes. Other than that, same lines. As for UNO, John Faulkner isn't even dressed. Massa gets the start and Faulker will suit up in a shirt and tie and sit and enjoy the game from the crowd. I can't imagine Dean Blais is very happy with him after yesterday...

Nanooks Sink the Lakers 5-2

First off, a big tip of the hat to Steve Thompson and Ronnie Meyers tonight. Thompson got his first start in 2 years and came up big with the win. He looked quite solid throughout the game. He allowed a pair of goals, one which I thought I'm sure he'd like to have back. I'm glad that coach played him tonight, given the situation. I thought he played very well, had so great saves, directed pucks to the right areas off of shots. Good composure, he didn't get too frantic. He had a puck flip on him and took a funny bounce over his glove and between his legs and into the net. Don't worry too much about that one Steve, you're not the first goaltender to wear a Nanooks uniform and have that happen...

And to Ronnie, way to bury it buddy. Last year, Meyers came so close to a handful of shorthanded goals, yet never had the luck for the goal horn to follow the shot. Starting off his senior year, he's 1 for 1. Nice work, cowboy.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Game Day - Nanooks Versus Mercyhurst

Sitting here in the announcers booth at ice level, watching the UAA game has gotten pretty interesting. The Seawolves were able to rattle John Faulkner's cage a bit, and they say scoring comes in bunches. Sure enough, UAA popped in 3 in about a span of 5 minutes.

Shifting focus to the Lakers, Tonight's game will be broadcast on the radio via 820am in Fairbanks, and online via the free feed. I've been assured that the issues have worked themselves out, so we should be set to go there. You can also stream the video of the game from It costs a few bucks to cover some of the operational costs The games will also hit Fairbanks airwaves on KFXF Fox 7 on a tape delay courtesy of the MLB playoffs...

Nanooks head coach Dallas Ferguson will start Steve Thompson in net tonight. Which is good, historically the Nanooks have dominated the Lakers in recent years, so if Steve-O can get his feet wet, and if he allows a goal or two, it shouldn't be a huge deal. But anyway, without further ado, here are the lines.

Ready for the Rush

This weekends tournament poses a a great opportunity for the Nanooks for two formidable opponents to challenge them before the start of conference play. I'm really glad that these tournaments exist at the start of our season, it makes it nice to go to Los Anchorage early while its still relatively warm in this state, just so I can get out of the town safely before people get desperate enough in the downtown areas that I have to worry about my own safety...

Safely back in Fairbanks, and with the arrival of the teams from Mercyhurst and Nebraska-Omaha, hockey is on tomorrow's agenda. And both of these teams pose a threat to recapturing the Goal Rush title.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nanooks Take Down Clarkson 3-1

Looking to rebound after the loss to St. Cloud, the Nanooks came to the Sullivan with a mission. Win. And win they did. In a game of tight checking and low scoring chances, the Nanooks prevailed in their first ever game against the Golden Knights of Clarkson University.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Game Day - Lines for Saturday

To win this game tonight, the Nanooks need to play mistake free. Turning pucks over and missed passes need to be eliminated, and let the systems go to work. They were working last night, for the most part, but Mike Lee wasn't giving anything up easy. Tonight, pucks and bodies need to get to the net and sticks need to be on the ice to put 'em in.

After last night's issues with the radio feed, The Voice will be broadcasting through Clarkson's online internet feed. Hopefully the kinks with 820AM's broadcast will get sorted out soon. Everyone involved apologizes to all of our listeners.

Some changes to the lines for game 2. Cody Butcher and Matt Gates will sit out, and Garrick Perry and Trevor Campbell will get the nod for game 2. Trevor Campbell has been a guy for me to watch. After seeing his speed in practice, I'm intrigued to see his speed in game. Garrick Perry is pretty much the same way. Should be an interesting story line there during tonight's.

Without further ado, here are the line charts for tonight's game.

Scenes from the Kendall Classic

Some good photos shared by a Nanooks fan, known online only as mmf. If you wish to check out more of his shots, see the link at the end to check out his gallery.

Nanooks Lose Tussle with St. Cloud in Game 1

Entering the arena, the energy in the air was apparent. With a new Nanooks team and a new season, everyone seemed anxious to hit the ground running. And nobody was about to let St. Cloud stand in the way of a 1-0 start. Except maybe St. Cloud...

In the first period, the Nanooks really started applying the body, and tried mightily to stamp the glass around the rink with the faces of the Huskies. I should have checked the glass after the game, but I'd say they did a pretty good job of that. No penalties out of any of that in the first 20 either, which is great and honestly quite surprising considering what followed. A lot of missed passes though as the period went on, but part of that can be accredited to good defense by St. Cloud, who did what they could to stifle the Nanooks' breakout. The other part was just a lack of familiarity and chemistry among line mates, something to be expected early on but somewhat excessive in my opinion.

In terms of scoring, St. Cloud capitalized on an opportunity after an extended Nanooks possession. It really was kind of a bummer after the Nanooks were taking it to St. Cloud in their zone. But their top line came back up the ice after a long shift and got bodies to the net, and Nic Dowd was able to get one off a rebound past Greenham, whose been quite sharp in the regular season opener. St. Cloud was able to get Greenham moving and occasionally out of position, but the D lines really helped him out.

The Nanooks were able to come right back and bury an answering goal a few minutes later, making the most of a power play chance as Nic Dowd sat two minutes for cross-checking. Aaron Gens is really they guy responsible for this one, carrying the puck into the offensive zone with authority and finding Cody Kunyk open on the wing. Aaron's puck possession here is really what sparked this play. He got close enough to the net to really get the defense drawn to him, and off of Cody who patiently waited open on the back door, waiting for a lane. Needless to say that once the pass came through, Cody had no problems finding the now-open net to tie the game.

The second period was quite a different dynamic as turnovers and penalties abounded the Nanooks. Fortunately, no power play goals were tallied, nor were their very many opportunities for St. Cloud to take advantage of on the power play. The problems came on the backcheck while the Nanooks were trying to transition. However, two key turnovers gave two skilled Husky forwards full access to Scott Greenham behind the D for a pair of scores. Very unfortunate that the bounces go that way, but the Nanooks look to turn things around to start the 3rd.

And they put the hammer down trying to get back, that's for sure. The Nanooks didn't allow a single shot on goal for the first 13 minutes of the 3rd period, even through three power play chances for St. Cloud, they weren't able to crack the Nanooks defense. Some stellar back checking by the 'Nooks gave them some prime chances to set up in the offensive zone and generate chances. But in the end, it was the Huskies netminder and the eventual player of the game Mike Lee that stifled the Nanooks offense tonight. Just as Scott Greenham reached the bench to start a 6 man cycle, the Huskies intercepted a pass and sent Drew LeBlanc rushing the other way and was able to bury the empty netter to make the final 4-1.

Overall, I wouldn't say it was a bad game for the team. Some unfortunate individual mistakes ended up costing 2 goals, and some interesting penalty calls both ways put more time on the ice for the special teams units than straight up 5 on 5. I'd like to see the guys rebound to night and come out ready to go against Clarkson. Starting the season 0-2 is not how I'd like this Anchorage trip to end.

After watching most of the Clarkson/UAA game last night, I was rather impressed with Clarkson's speed and determination. A lot of their players, especially number 12 Nick Trembley and 19 Julien Cayer will just flat out fly to the puck. It's actually quite an impressive thing to watch. Cayer is a draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, and believe me, it was a good pick. Keeping an eye on these two tonight will be paramount. Cayer put a pair in past Gunderson and UAA last night. I'd like to not see that happen tonight...

Keys to the game: quite simple. Play mistake-free. Last night, the Nanooks succeeded in the possession battle, but weren't able to get any shots through. I was really impressed with the power play last night and the way that the guys were moving around. All of that movement can really pay off. With the Nanooks 1/4 on the power play last night, and hopefully they can further capitalize against a Clarkson team that gave Anchorage 7 chances with the man advantage.

That's all for now, make sure to check in a bit later for a game day post from Sullivan Arena. I'm going to finish my coffee here at quite possibly one of the best coffee shops in the state (Kaladi Brothers), and try to dig up some more video on Clarkson.

I've also been told that GCI is broadcasting our games on GCI channel 1 live statewide, and live online (ignore the "Next game against North Dakota" message, and click the red button to watch the game). The game is also being aired tape delayed on Fox 7 in Fairbanks due to baseball playoffs. I was told that there were some problems after the game got underway with the online radio feed last night for Hopefully they can get things worked out and get that going for the game tonight.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Game Day: St. Cloud State - Kendall Classic Game 1

Not a bad day here in Anchorage. A little warmer than in Fairbanks, but still as cloudy and dry. The first line sheet turned in for this year is filled with interesting combinations. Some young blood sprinkled in among seasoned veterans. Check the charts below to keep track. I'll put numbers in the first set here, but keep track of the roster for numbers if you want them in future posts (including tomorrow). 

Tonight's games will be on the radio on 820 AM in Fairbanks, as well as online at (click the "Listen Live" link in the top menu, and the subsequent big red button to grab the streaming file. If your computer doesn't know what to do with it, just open it with iTunes and you should be good to go). The games will not stream video online this time around, your only bet for video is if you're in Fairbanks on Fox channel 7 later on this evening after the Baseball playoffs are over.

But be sure to tune into my Twitter feed (@NanookHockey) during the game for live updates.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Let's Get This Hockey Train Rolling

Well after that 8-0 romping, I'm pretty excited to get this season underway with some quality games this weekend. I will say that, in defense of the Northern Alberta team, it could have been a lot worse. Shannon Szabados (for the record, it's pronounced "za" (like zap)-"bah"-"doss"), a veteran goaltender and former Olympic gold medalist played her heart out for the Ooks. She made some very impressive saves that not very many goalies can make. She stood on her head that night and stopped what very easily could have been 4 or 5 more goals. Having seemingly 5 forwards and a goaltender doesn't really bode well against a team playing at a completely different level. Kudos to her though for sticking it out. But it goes to show you how well a goaltender, even as good as she is, can stop the puck with little to no help in front of her.

Looking ahead at the future, Clarkson and St. Cloud State lie in the cross hairs in front of us and both of them should be a pretty good test.

The St. Cloud Huskies have been consistently in the top 5 in the WCHA these last few years, and have made their way into acceptance into the new NCHC with North Dakota, and those other teams. Safe to say I don't think that they will be a top 5 team any more... Somebody has to lose...

The interesting part, the Nanooks will be the first opposition that the Huskies will see this year, opting not to schedule an allowed exhibition game. Which some teams choose not to, but with both Spanchorage and Fairbanks running up the score on squad from Alberta, at least the Alaska teams have a grasp of their systems and line chemistry coming into this tournament.

Their leading scorer, Drew LeBlanc (just don't dare pronounce the "c", its silent, unlike their trolls online) returns for his senior season. Drew tallied 39 points last year in a season that ended with two losses--including one heartbreaker in overtime--to the eventual national champions in the first round of the WCHA tournament. Listed at 6' 195lbs, this USHL product and now team captain is a force to be reckoned with. Now he's not the kind of guy though that will take the puck and try to blast through coast to coast and score, he's going to hang around in the offensive zone and try to catch the defense in a spot where they forget about him and Drew will position himself to make a play. The Nanooks D will need to keep tabs on him and keep him in check. But then you've got to watch out for guys like Cam Reid and Jared Festler, who are just as sly and capable of finding twine.

The interesting wild card is their junior netminder, and co-captain Mike Lee. Andy Taranto's former team mate from the Fargo Force has had quite a career with the Huskies thus far. During his tenure, he has shown some interesting spurts of inconsistency between being cool and calm one game, and flying all over the place the next. However, as last season progressed Mike started earning the majority of the starts and really maturing in net for the Huskies.  Carrying a 2.77 goals against average and a .910 save percentage from last year, Mike very well could be a tough egg to crack for the 'Nooks this weekend. It will all depend on their defensive strategy, which as the story goes with this team, they just choose not to defend. Whether that's at the level of NAIT, I don't know. I haven't had a real chance to see them play a real team (ACC doesn't count).

While accustomed to playing the nerds at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell, Clarkson is a relatively unknown team outside of the eastern time zone. A team not known for their outlandish scoring, but for their outlandish penalties. After leading their conference with over 18 minutes in penalties a game last year, it will be interesting to see how many power play opportunities they give to Anchorage and us, respectively. Their top returning scorer coming back this year sophomore Allan McPherson who notched just 23 points in 36 games for the Golden Knights. Not bad, but not the greatest of numbers you'd like to see from the person leading your team in scoring. But it was enough to tie him for 42nd in the conference in scoring last season.

Clarkson will be an interesting game. They have a brand new head coach in Casey Jones. And they've been known to take down some pretty big name teams in recent years, too. They even took down their Kendall-mate St. Cloud last year 6-2. As the number three seed in the 2008 NCAA East regional, they knocked off St. Cloud State 2-1 (I'm noticing a trend here...) to advance to the second round. They eventually lost to Michigan that year, but an impressive outing to say the least. Clarkson went 15-19-2 overall last year and 9-12-1 in the ECAC to finish 7th.

If the Nanooks can capitalize on their power play chances that Clarkson will likely give them, this one shouldn't be too bad.

The games this weekend will be broadcast on Fox 7 in Fairbanks (tape delayed due to baseball playoffs). You can also catch Bruce on the radio at 820AM in town, or on by clicking the Listen Live link in the menu bar, then clicking the big play button in the middle of the page to listen to local sports broadcasts. I'm assuming GCI will be planning on airing the game on GCI channel 1 statewide, as well as their usual internet feed, but I'm not seeing it on their normal streaming page. But who knows.

If you choose to read more, feel free to venture behind enemy lines and check out Donald's write-up over at the UAA blog posted earlier today.