Friday, November 30, 2012

Game Day - Nanooks vs. RedHawks

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks vs #4 Miami RedHawks
7:05PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska

Live | Live Audio: KCBF 820 Sports

Live Video ($7): | Radio: 820 AM Fairbanks

Twitter: @NanookHockey

I feel as if I've neglected you this week, my loyal readers... Again, sorry for the lack of a pre-series post but life always seems to find a way to interfere. But I think this series is one that doesn't need much of an introduction. The RedHawks come into this game ranked 4th in the country, sporting one of the most dynamic offensive forward lines in college hockey today. Reilly Barber, Austin Czarnik have combined for 29 of the 85 total points that Miami has amassed thus far through 12 games. Coming off of a bye week over Thanksgiving, you have to wonder if the turkey will take its toll.

Historically, the 'Nooks have always fared pretty well against this team. Despite the scoring that Miami has dazzled the country with in recent history, only twice has Miami beaten Alaska in what I would consider a blowout (7-2, 5-0). The Nanooks have a history of splitting with Miami, so time will tell.

The Nanooks will don the gold jerseys tonight for the first time all season. Which is great, because I for one prefer them. The whites are a very nice sweater too, don't get me wrong, but the golds are just awesome.

John Keeney will also get the start in goal tonight. This will be a great challenge for him against Miami's offense. Colton Parayko is out for tonight's game, so Justin Tateson will be in the lineup as well. Watch my Twitter (@NanookHockey) for the full lines a bit later.

Go 'Nooks!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lead Swallowed in 3rd Period, NMU Edges SO Win

Dallas Ferguson elects to go with John Keeney in goal tonight as the Nanooks look to avoid another loss in the Black Hole... And Coach Ferguson looks for his first win against the NMU Wildcats in his career on his 40th birthday no less. What a great birthday present that would have been.

The first period had some chances as the Nanooks seemed to have the flow of the game in their favor, although the shots were tilted a bit in NMU's favor.

A lot of those shots weren't top quality scoring chances, but with 3 first period penalties on Alaska, all of them called on Tyler Morley. The Wildcats would capitalize on their first of three chances on what turned out to be a nice play as Reed Seckel made a no look backwards pass to the side of the net where Stephan Vigier was waiting. Keeney moved to the other post to cover the wraparound, but wasn't able to swing back to cover Vigier in time.

The Nanooks would answer right back 48 seconds later to tie it though as a strong 3 on 2 rush created by Chad Gehon up to Nik Yaremchuk. Yammer fed Nolan Kaiser who came up to fill the right wing spot and Kaiser rifled it for his first career goal. If you recall, we thought Nolan had his first goal last week in the Western Michigan series in the first game, but it turned out to be Huysmans. That's the downside when you have three Nolan's on the team all numbered sequentially (Kaiser, Huysmans, Youngmun as 23, 24, 25, respectively). This time, no question about it.

Then on NMU's lone penalty of the first period, Jake Baker goes to the box for holding, and just 8 seconds later, Tyler Morley who is well rested at this point gets one on the board from Trevor Campbell (his 3rd point of the series) and Josh Atkinson as the puck cycled the point after the initial faceoff.

Tyler Morley would get his 3rd penalty at 18:24 of the first period, as the Wildcats would get the remainder of that penalty call to start the 2nd period.

Into the second, no scoring came around but certainly some scoring chances on each side. The Wildcats had a strong showing against the Nanooks 4th line with a good extended possession. The Nanooks had some chances of their own with some quality chances on the rush. The Nanooks however unable to extend any of their possessions.

Then with 5:05 remaining, senior captain Adam Henderson puts a big hit on Jake Johnson, which was eventually ruled a 5 minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind. That opened the door for the second coming of the Wildcats infamous second period from a day previous, but the Nanooks definitely did not lean back on that kill. They pressured the Wildcats the entire time and held NMU to just three shots on goal that entire penalty. Taranto had a glorious shorthanded chance that Coreau wasn't able to contain. The rebound popped way up and came right to Tyler Morley who effectively had a wide open shooting lane, but Coreau came WAY out to make the save.

In the 3rd, NMU got a goal right off the faceoff after a media timeout as a defensemen blasted a shot in from the point. Reed Seckel got a stick on it midair and deflected it through the five-hole.

Into OT, the Nanooks had a chance to even the score as Andy Taranto butied what he thought was his 100th point. The goal was initially waved off due to contact with the goaltender. After a lengthy review, it looked like they couldn't get enough evidence to overturn it. From the broadcast replay, it looked like Taranto was pushed into the goaltender, but the officials only have the camera above the goal to look at. Shortly after that, Taranto was called with an extremely weak roughing call on a clean check against the boards. Regardless, the Nanooks were able to kill it off.

In the waning seconds of the Overtime period, Jarret Granberg had the Wildcats dead to rights as he connected with Cody Kunyk on the backdoor with a beautiful pass, but Jared Coreau made the save of the game right there. I couldn't believe that puck didn't go in the back of the net.

Into the shootout, Coreau stopped both Colton Beck and Tyler Morley, and Keeney was unable to make the save on either shooter for NMU.

The Nanooks return back to the Carlson Center for two straight back-to-back home series against Miami and Bowling Green. The RedHawks currently sit in 1st place in the CCHA as the Nanooks only close the gap by 1 point, and are back by just 2 points out of 1st place.

Friday, November 23, 2012

2 Goal Lead Erased By the Black Hole

For the second game in a row, the Nanooks hockey team let a 2 goal lead slip away. A sad but unfortunate truth as the Nanooks let the Wildcats right back into the game in Steve Thompson's first start in goal since the loss against Ferris State. A strong first period put the Nanooks up 2-0 with goals from Henderson and Granberg, but a poor defensive showing in the 2nd period allowed the Wildcats to surge ahead with 3 goals in just 5 shots on goal.

In the first, the Nanooks tilted play heavily in their favor for most of the period. The Wildcats top line logged a lot of minutes, probably 11 or 12 minutes in that period, but the 'Nooks wore them out. At 7:19, the Nanooks had some good cycling and got a shot to the front of the net that found Jared Coreau out of position. The puck found the stick of Henderson, who puts it in to an empty net.  Later at 15:43, looked like Trevor Campbell kept the puck in against the wall above the faceoff circle, and just threw the puck on net, that Jarret Granberg was able to deflect in. I didn't get a good look at the play but that's how it looked to me...

Down 3-2 in the 3rd, the Nanooks turned up the pressure, but a costly penalty at the end by
Morley had me biting my nails. Turns out it didn't matter as Taranto went beast mode and scored shorthanded on a play created by Jarret Granberg with strong defensive play, getting it back to Trevor Campbell with good vision to find Taranto streaking up, who buried the goal shorthanded to tie the game 3-3 with less than a minute to play.

A few seconds later, Daugherty took what Walt Kyle later described as a "dumb penalty" with just 5 seconds left in regulation gave the Nanooks an early start to a power play with Morley out of the box. However, a costly turnover to NMU captain Scott Macaulay caught Steve Thompson on a bad angle, leaving the side open, and Macaulay buried it for the shorthanded overtime game winning goal. Talk about a back breaker.

Aside from a few miscues in the second period, the Nanooks controlled the game. They held Northern to just 18 shots on goal through nearly 61 minutes,  but the four goals allowed mark is what sticks out.

The 'Nooks seek revenge tomorrow, and deserve a better fate. Would love to see the tide change...

How To Win In the Black Hole

The barn in Marquette will be known as "The Black Hole" until the 'Nooks can sweep the Wildcats, and this weekend presents a very good chance for that to happen. Dallas Ferguson in his post as head coach has faced Walt Kyle and the NMU Wildcats 13 times since 2008. The Nanooks are 0-7-6 in that time period. The Nanooks have won 4 of the shootouts, but nearly every game was close. Aside from one game, each of the Wildcats' win was by one or two goals. The only game that wasn't close was last season when the Nanooks surrendered 7 back in Marquette in a 7-3 loss.

But this is a new season, a new roster, and a new beginning. The 'Nooks are off to a great start, but not so much for NMU. The Wildcats are 1-5-2-0 in CCHA play this season, good for 5 points and last place in the conference. To add more turmoil, the Wildcats will miss Erik Higby on Friday's game serving a mandatory one game suspension due to the game disqualification he received for a contact to the head penalty against Ohio State. But, that's just the start...

Junior forward and the team's leading scorer Matt Thurber was ejected from Friday's game for contact to the head, but while he wasn't disqualified, coach Kyle pulled Thurber out faster than a Lamborghini peeling out at a traffic light. Citing a violation of team rules, Kyle said to the press "[Thurber is] out until I say he's back in." Wow... The curious side of me wants to know what exactly happened, but the other sympathetic side of me understands what its like to not have things going your way. Five of NMU's top nine offensive players will be out for this series, and one other player (Higby) will miss Friday.

You can tell their frustrations seem to be mounting as well, Northern has 176 penalty minutes so far this season, or 14.7 minutes per game. Now I know the Nanooks have their fair share too, but the part that hurts the Wildcats is that they're 57th in the country in the penalty kill at 74.5%, averaging out to about two power play goals allowed per game. From an overall defensive perspective, NMU averages 3.08 goals allowed per game total, 2nd worst in the CCHA. This series could be a good chance for the Nanooks 15.5% power play, which has started to click recently, to really find their stride and burying the puck.

Now as far as the actual game is concerned, the Nanooks should have the edge in zone play. Watching tape from the NMU/Ohio State series, the Wildcats have suffered from a poor passing game in the offensive zone. I don't know if its just a lack of vision, or good defensive reads by the Buckeyes. Probably a combination of both, but the Nanooks defense as solid as it is, I don't have too many worries about these guys wreaking havoc offensively, especially with the aforementioned lineup issues.

Where NMU excels is the transition game. Walt Kyle's teams over the years have always been good at controlling the neutral zone, and that's still true with this year's team. They will take advantage of mistakes and turnovers and start it back the other way. A number of their goals this season have come on odd-man rushes created on the backcheck, so making smart decisions with the puck, and clean passing in transition are keys to watch for.

Despite the history between these two teams especially in The Black Hole, the Nanooks are the better team. And if the 'Nooks play their game and keep their offense going, good things are going to happen.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Western Michigan Surges in 3rd Period for 3-2 Win

The Nanooks seemed to pick up right where they left off last night, hanging the shots and scoring chances on the Broncos. A few pressure situations resulted in a couple of penalties to WMU. The Nanooks capitalized, but just missed the power play goal as the player was skating back into the play. Tyler Morley banged one home for his 4th point on the weekend. Good hustle with the stick down around the net to find it, good heads up play.

In the second, the Nanooks seemed to start a bit flat offensively as they couldn't get much going. But later into the period, the intensity picked up quite a bit and a lot of arms were getting raised as the penalty box doors seemed to revolve on each side of the announcers booth.

But one of those power plays, Andy Taranto found Cody Kunyk wide open just outside the slot to capitalize on the power play to go up 2-0, taking the lead to the locker room.

Into the 3rd, last nights roles were reversed as Western rallied off two quick goals to tie it up 2-2. Then with just over 4 minutes, Henderson was flagged for a phantom minor penalty. Western called timeout and drew up the play, and they capitalized right at the tail end of it to go up 3-2.

The 'Nooks then faced another hardship late as Taranto was called for holding with 59 seconds up on the board. So if the 'Nooks were to get it done, it was going to have to be short handed. And they almost did it, but Frank Slubowski played lights out tonight and just flat out robbed the Nanooks tonight. Golden scoring chances around the net abounded again, but Slubowski kept them out of the back of the net. Sometimes just leaving me saying "!" His 40 save performance resulted in a first star performance on the night.

The other story here tonight is the loss of Garrick Perry and Colton Parayko both during the first period. Perry had to be helped off the ice after getting called for tripping, and would not return. I know he's had knee troubles in the past, but hoping those injuries didn't just come back to haunt him again.

Colton Parayko also went off during the first, but not sure why. When he left, I thought it was due to equipment, but my worries increased after I never saw number 4 on the bench again for the rest of the game. When I asked coach Ferguson during the post game presser, he didn't have anything to comment on at the moment, but hopefully it won't keep them sidelined much longer. Still not 100% sure on Nik Yaremchuk, hopefully he'll be available to go to Northern next week. I'll try and check in with the coaching staff this week and see who will be traveling to Marquette.

Speaking of Marquette... Dallas Ferguson's Nanooks are 0-7-6 against the Wildcats in the past 5 years including playoffs. But as captain Adam Henderson said, "that's all in the past"...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Nanooks Go Beast Mode, Trample WMU 6-1

The Nanooks looked pretty sharp in their camo jerseys. Interesting design, but I can dig it. They're up for auction online as well if you're interested in picking one up. Starting bid on those is $250, which seems a little steep but I know those jerseys aren't cheap either.

Well I'll do my best to recap the game based on what I heard from Bruce Cech, and what I'm getting from my followers on Twitter. Big thanks to Amanda McColley for picking up the tweeting for me tonight. Kind of hard to keep fans up to date from 33,000 feet in the air, but with the marvel of in-flight WiFi I wasn't completely left in the dark.

The first period had some chances going both ways, but the Nanooks seemed to have the majority of the quality scoring chances. And perseverance on the play pays off as Granberg's pressure took the puck away and sent it the other way as Granny went stride for stride with freshman Nolan Huysmans, and Jarret put that puck on a platter with a sweet saucer over the defender across the slot, and Nolan buried that chance.

In the second, the referees gift wrapped a few penalties for the Broncos, and put bows on a couple of power plays as early Christmas presents. The 'Nooks would kill the first one, but not the other as Chase Balisy buried his 3rd of the season.

The 'Nooks had the first 3 penalties called on them through the first 27 minutes of the game, but a penalty to DeKeyser at 7:13 of the 2nd period after tripping up Colton Beck would give the Nanooks their first power play chance of the game. However, they were unable to capitalize.

But, just a few moments later, Andy Taranto with a total beauty. Going in 1-on-3 over the blue line waiting on his teammates to come in on a change from the bench, but trying to just keep the play alive, he played the puck off the boards, it came back to TO's stick, and he backhanded a beaut over the glove of Frank Slubowski to go up 2-1 unassisted.

But Kaare Odegard was called for sort of a phantom call on a great hit as the officials flagged him for indirect contact to the head with a high stick. No big deal though as the 9th ranked penalty kill took care of it, and Odie would get even on a play set up beautifully by Nolan Youngmun going around wheeling behind the net, dishing the puck in front of the net back the other way, finding Odie wide open on the point fresh out of the box. Blasted it, and like that, the 'Nooks are up 3-1.

As the 3rd period was starting, the plane I was on was landing in Seattle and I'm trying to get the radio feed to stream in on my phone, but not having a whole lot of luck. I finally get it going shortly after the puck was dropped and all I heard was goal horn. It was an interesting moment of excitement. Shortly after that, I realized the score was now 5-1 after the always entertaining Bruce Cech exclaimed that the 'Nooks buried goals 13 seconds apart in the first 30 seconds of the 3rd period. While that doesn't quite eclipse the 8 second record mark set years ago against BGSU, that is the quickest mark in this current season, and quickest that I can remember in recent history. I remember a game a couple of years ago where two goals were scored 11 seconds apart. It's certainly been a while though.

Those two goals were ratcheted off by Nolan Huysmans (his 2nd of the game), and Nolan Kaiser, the 1st of his career. Also, best wishes to Nolan and his dad, who I understand went through his final surgery this week. Here's to the Kaiser family, hope he's on the road to recovery and doing well. I'm sure getting that goal helped dad feel a little better! Hopefully he remembered to nab the puck. Tape it up and send it home!

Moving on further into the 3rd period with about 9 minutes left on the clock, senior center Jarret Granberg extended the lead to miraculous-comeback levels, now up 6-1 as the 'Nooks now move back up to 2nd place in the CCHA standings once again with the chance to at least get to tie Notre Dame for 1st place as they're off tomorrow after sweeping Michigan at Yost.

Well I'm on my last flight now, up at about 34,000 feet on my way from Seattle back up to Fairbanks. I'll be back in the booth calling tomorrow's game on the PA as usual. Thanks to Ben Nelson for covering for me. Mexico was nice and warm, Fairbanks is not. -27 as of this writing at the Fairbanks airport. But, with the 'Nooks on fire like this, it might just warm up!

Game Day - Nanooks vs. Broncos

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks vs. Western Michigan Broncos

7:35PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska

Live Stats: | Live Audio: KCBF 820 Sports

Live Video ($7): | Radio: 820 AM Fairbanks

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Television: Friday: GCI Channel 1 Live at 7:30 p.m. (Anchorage markets only); 
Replay (Statewide) GCI Channel 1 Sat., Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. 

Saturday: GCI Channel 1 Live at 7:30 p.m. (Anchorage markets only); 
Replay (Statewide) GCI Channel 1 Sun., Nov. 18 at 10 a.m. 

The Nanooks come into this series without just 1 loss in their previous 5 games. Last weekend, John Keeney backstopped the Nanooks to a 1-0-1 (SOL) record, earning goaltender of the week honors in just his first conference series starts.

WMU comes into the series with a 5-2-1 record, ranked 9th in the country with a 40th ranked offense, and an 8th ranked defense through 8 NCAA games thus far. Their only win versus a ranked team was a split against the Fighting Irish in South Bend, a 3-2 win Friday before falling 4-0 on Saturday. The Broncos also swept Canisius at Lawson, a team the Nanooks fell short to defeat in the Kendall Classic back in October.

Frank Slubowski remains the Broncos starting goaltender, who was 1-1-1 against the Nanooks last season. The Nanooks had some good results in the last game these two teams played last season, scoring 4 goals in 18 shots, and Scott Greenham with effectively the game of his career, keeping WMU off the board and earning him the player of the game honors with 37 saves on 38 shots.

The Nanooks will also be wearing camouflage jerseys this weekend in light of military appreciation week that the Nanooks athletic department is putting on. After this weekend, the jersey's will be auctioned off online to benefit the team. Each jersey's starting bid is at $250.

Should be an interesting series. Unfortunately, I'm going to miss tonight's game due to travel (I'm actually writing this on my layover in LAX), but I'll be giving a recap for Saturday's game, and I'll try to include some tidbits I hear from Friday. So I invite everyone to use the comments section of this post for discussion to bring everyone up to speed on Friday's game. The Twitter feed will be going, but it won't be me behind the keyboard this time around, so keep an eye on that for live in-game updates tonight.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nanooks Superior Effort, 3 Unanswered Goals Capitulates Ohio State 3-1

45 shots on goal, and a lot of power plays and penalty kills each way gave a lot of ice for the Nanooks, who looked like the faster team which helped catapult them into second place in the CCHA rankings with 10 points, just 1 point behind Miami who earned the shootout win over NMU tonight.

The Nanooks had some great momentum going in the first period, largely outskating the Buckeyes for most of the period until the officials seemed to take it away. A phantom call on Cody Kunyk as he was playing solid defense down low in front of Keeney, but officials saw him check someone from behind who actually just kind of fell down. If they were going to penalize Kunyk, should have gotten the other player for embellishment.

Shortly after the power play started, Campbell got up close and personal and caught an Ohio State player by surprise against the boards. Officials called that boarding. Needless to say Ohio State scores on the 5 on 3 power play, they're not that bad...

Then at the end of the period, Odegard and an Ohio State forward were getting into it around the net, then the official decided to call Odie for slashing... So the Buckeyes now start the 2nd period with a 5 on 3 power play...

The Nanooks did a good job to kill it, but Ohio State had their fair share of chances. But there for a bit, it seemed that the Nanooks couldn't get much going, until the Nanooks had a goal called as Colton Beck flew into the zone and centered a pass that went off of Kunyk's skate and in. Originally called a goal on the ice, but after going to review, they saw Cody sticking his skate out to deflect the puck which was deemed a kicking motion and waved off.

Now with seemingly noting going our way until Ohio State ran into a bit of penalty trouble of their own. 5 straight calls against the Buckeyes helped the Nanooks get going offensively as the officiating seemed to start to even out. About 11 minutes into the period, Matt Johnson drove Cody Kunyk into the boards pretty hard from behind. A pretty dangerous hit, but the officials saw that one all the way, and called a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind.

However, the 'Nooks weren't able to capitalize on that at all as the Nanooks seemed to trail off on that chance and let it slip away. But another call to Martell late in the 2nd for roughing seemed to rev the Nanooks' engine as they seemed a bit more up on the play. A clearing attempt back into the Nanook zone, Colton Parayko noticed Ohio State going for a late change. Parayko ripped a long pass up to Taranto who was waiting at the far side of the blue line. Racing into the zone, TO and Beck worked to crash the net as an Ohio State defender is nipping at the heels just slightly behind the play, and Beck able to make the shot off of the pass through the slot.

In the 3rd, the Nanooks started off about even with Ohio State with some good action going back and forth early, but the revolving penalty box door struck again as Brandon Martell went to the box, then just as that penalty expired, Cody Kunyk was sprung on a breakaway and hauled down by Sam Jardine, and the two went down to the ice funny, and it looked like Kunyk's skate caught Jardine's wrist  just above the glove, who bled pretty bad as he left the ice and the game to be attended to by the medics. Hope he's OK. Never like to see that happen.

But to make matters worse, he was called for holding as he pulled Cody Kunyk down to avoid the score. The Nanooks weren't able to capitalize on any of the power plays per se, but just as Jardine's penalty expired, Trevor Campbell intercepted an attempted outlet pass at the blue line by, who got the puck to Adam Henderson down low. Hendo threw the shot on net, and Granberg was sitting open on the door step who got a beautiful deflection on that shot to tip it up over the shoulder of Collin Olson to go up 2-1.

Now with the lead in hand, Nolan Youngmun nearly gave it away with two back to back penalties, the first a minor for high sticking, the second a 5 minute major and game misconduct for roughing. With just 5:55 left on the clock, most of the final minutes were to be played shorthanded. But the Nanooks superior defense had Ohio State slowing their game as they couldn't get anything going in the Nanooks' zone.

Then a neutral zone interception by Michael Quinn had Adam Henderson springing up his step as he got a shot on goal shorthanded, and collected his own rebound for the 'Nooks first shorthanded goal of the season to ice the victory 3-1.

Another game with the 'Nooks tallying over 40 shots on net, but this time 3 goals find their way to the back of the net, and the Nanooks move to a 5-3-2 record and taking 4 points this weekend to get up to 10 CCHA points thus far in the season. Again, putting them in second place just behind Miami. The Nanooks return home next weekend to take on Western Michigan who also went 1-0-1 this weekend with Bowling Green.

Should be a good flight home for the guys, who have come up with a big win in Columbus this weekend.

Go 'Nooks!

Goaltending Battle Results in Tie and Shootout Loss

I recall a line in one of the Mighty Ducks movies from years ago, where the new coach enters the locker room and poses this question "how long does it take to score a goal?" then throws the puck and sticks it in the bulletin board at the other end of the locker room and exclaims "less than a second". This is the story of the first 15 seconds of the 3rd period in a sense, as plays can turn around so fast. Now, I have to state that I didn't actually see the play, which makes it a little difficult to recap, but what seemed like an innocent pass turned into a speed play the other direction as Ohio State forced a 2-on-1 that the rookie John Keeney couldn't contain.

Speaking of John Keeney, I thought he played outstanding yesterday, but the defense in front of him was very solid as well, unlike the unfortunate outcome against Canisius during his last start. But I thought that our offense played well despite the lack of goal production. The 'Nooks got their chances, but it was a war of attrition out there and it took odd-man chances to get goals around defenses that both played very well.

The Nanooks penalty kill is also playing outstanding. No goals allowed in 8 chances last night, and 35/39 on the year, best in the CCHA and 10th best in the country. Puck pursuit has just been insane. Passes and loose pucks are never safe, and its amazing how many players make big plays when shorthanded. No shorthanded goals yet this season, but not allowing goals is obviously the priority.

In the shootout, Colton Beck missed just his 4th shootout attempt of his career. He's now 8/12 so far for a .667 scoring percentage, making every goaltender cringe. I'll just say what you're all thinking - Hjelle got lucky.

John Keeney will get his third start tonight after his 33 save performance yesterday. A great move if you ask me, and with a little coaching Keeney could emerge as the starter going forward... But time will tell.

Go 'Nooks!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Game Day - Nanooks Seek Revenge in Columbus

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks (4-3-1) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (2-2-2)
Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio - 3:05PM AKST

Live Video - BuckeyeVision ($)
Live Internet Radio - Bruce Cech -
Live Stats - Game Center

The Nanooks seek revenge against a Buckeyes team that outscored us 8-2 in our previous two game series in Columbus last season about this same time. The Nanooks are a much different team this season however, but so is OSU. Much about the same, in fact. OSU is also running a goaltending-by-committee approach after losing Cal Heeter to graduation. Brady Hjelle and Colin Olson both sit pretty much dead even with each other at 1-1-1 with .927 and .926 save percentages respectively,  and each with a 2.27 GAA. Doesn't get any closer than that. The lone difference being that Hjelle has faced a total of 2 more shots than Olson has between 3 games played. You really can't make that up...

Ohio State also seems to be struggling a bit offensively, only putting up 11 goals in 6 games for 1.83 goals per game. The Nanooks have scored 19 goals in 8 games for a 2.38 goals/game average, but allowing 22 for 2.75 against explains the 3 losses. Of course the 6 goal against game with Ferris State doesn't help that average any.

The interesting part about this Ohio State team though isn't in the statistics. It's in the roster. Of 27 guys dressing for the Buckeyes, only 10 are either juniors or seniors. 10 sophomores and 7 freshmen round out this very young roster. And only one of those upper classmen (Alex Carlson) has a goal to their credit.

The Buckeyes played Bowling Green two weeks ago to a 1-0 25-save shutout win for Brady Hjelle before Saturday's 3-3 tie and shootout loss. According to Mark Osiecki, the Buckeyes are pretty battered after three straight road trips to start the season, electing only to practice twice during their bye-week to allow some of the guys to heal and rest up.

On the Nanooks side, the team left for Columbus on Tuesday night, arriving mid-day Wednesday. Not travelling this go around is Sean Cahill, who stayed behind. John Keeney will get the start in net Friday with just his second collegiate start. Steve Thompson will serve as the EBUG. Garrick Perry also gets his skates laced up again in his second game of the season after missing some time due to an injury. Nik Yaremchuk still remains sidelined, although it sounds like Nik might be back sooner rather than later. Time will tell with him. 

This series should be fun to watch!

Here's the lines for the Nanooks 

F1 Granberg - Morley - Taranto
F2 Gehon - Henderson - Youngmun
F3 Beck - Kunyk - Huysmans
F4 Dumond - Perry - Hajdukovich

D1 Quinn - Parayko
D2 Odegard - Campbell
D3 Tateson - Atkinson

G1 Keeney
G2 Thompson

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Comeback Stalls As Lakers Win 4-2

Try as they might, the 'Nooks could not buy a goal tonight. With 50 shots on net, Kevin Murdock probably sealed his bid for goaltender of the week after this series. It was just unreal to watch, the 'Nooks would get a shot on net, get the rebound and it would go nowhere. Rinse and repeat that 48 times and you have tonight's game in a nutshell. At least it wasn't for a lack of trying.

Anyway, the first period started tonight very fast. Both teams were really full of energy and had a lot of jump to their step. Also very offensive as the Nanooks racked up 35 attempted shots, with 19 of them making it on net. The Nanooks had their offensive chances but couldn't break through as Murdock was on top of his game again.

With Max Dumond in the box, Laker captain Domenic Monardo capitalized on the opportunity with a wrister past the blocker of Sean Cahill from the right face off circle. Nanooks had a man advantage opportunity of their own a few minutes later, and was able to put 7 shots on net, but couldn't get one through.

The second period was much the same way. The Nanooks controlled play, got a ton of shots and chances but couldn't buy a goal. Play started to get a bit chippy out there after Lake State got up by 2 goals. 9 penalties in total were called, but most of them offsetting. LSSU did get a goal scrambling in front of the net by Dan Radke.

In the third, Kevin Czuczman extended the lead for the Lakers to 3-0, but the Nanooks weren't done yet. Andy Taranto broke the goose egg with just over 5 minutes left to play. Then with 1:38 to play, Sean Cahill came off the ice for the extra attacker. Then after a timeout, Adam Henderson draws up a beauty of a faceoff play as he feeds Andy Taranto who rips it right off the post and in with his second goal of the night to bring the 'Nooks within 1. But with Cahill still on the bench, the Lakers were able to ice it with an empty-netter by Dan Radke for his second of the game.

A tough loss at home to close out parents' weekend. The post-game social at Tubby's was a little glum, unfortunately I wasn't able to stay long. For those families I didn't catch up with, thanks a lot for coming and supporting your son and the team. I know it means a lot to them, and I hope you had a good time while you were in town.

The 'Nooks hit the road for Ohio State this week, who went 1-0-1 at Bowling Green this weekend, and falling in the shootout. The Nanooks are now in a 6-way tie for 1st now, but again, very early in the season. It's always a race, but getting off to a good start sets the tone later in the season. Hopefully the offense can put a few more up on the board next weekend, but as long as its more than Ohio State can put up I'll be a happy guy. Go 'Nooks!

Game Day - Nanooks vs. Lakers, Round 2

Game Center

Alaska Nanooks vs. Lake Superior State Lakers
11/3 7:05PM - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, AK

Live Video ($7) - AmericaOne Sports
Live Internet Radio - Bruce Cech -
Live Stats -
Twitter (@NanookHockey)

Tonight the Nanooks look to complete their first sweep of the final CCHA season. As I alluded to last night, I'm hoping the Nanooks can put pressure on like they did early in the first period, but it should be a battle. Coach West alluded in the post-game presser last night that Lake State forces you to earn what you get, which is very true. But the Nanooks are the same way. If it weren't for that bounce last night in the first period, Cahill would have had his first collegiate shutout.

I haven't seen the lines yet today, but I would expect that Cahill goes again tonight. I thought he played really well last night, and deserves another start. I know it's gotta be hard on a guy like Steve Thompson, but while standing on your head and taking out two tough teams in Merrimack and North Dakota, then allowing 6 goals against Ferris State it's kind of hard to have confidence as a coach in that situation. 

As I said, it should be a battle tonight. But I think the Nanooks have the better team and should come out on top with a better offense and special teams. But we won't know until the final buzzer. Until then, go 'Nooks! See you all tonight at the Carlson Center.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Last Minute Push Again Pays Dividends as the 'Nooks win 2-1

Well, if you were writing a book, you couldn't write it any better. Two weekends in a row in locations separated by over 3,000 miles, the 'Nooks last minute push gets it done again. This time, Colton Beck buries the game winner with 11.0 on the clock with his parents watching in the stands. It was a great play crashing the net as Michael Quinn put the puck on net and Colton Beck got a stick on it and buried it.

Persistence pays off as the Nanooks took it to the Lakers early in the first period, catching LSSU on their heels. But they couldn't buy a goal if they wanted to. Kevin Murdock played a phenomenal game in the absence of Kevin Kapalka making 37 saves, and had a goose egg going through the first 49 minutes of the game. But it was Chris Ciotti who caught a lucky bounce off of his skate with just the 4th shot on goal on a play created by Domenic Monardo as his puck possession around back of the net caused the 'Nooks D-men to over pursue a bit, as Monardo let an open pass to the front of the net go that just happens to hit Ciotti's skate in the right place. Even after a review, they determined that it wasn't kicked in. That's hockey, and tonight was definitely a defensive battle.

The equalizer came from Colton Parayko pinching down, and it looked to me like it went off a defender's stick. There was a lot of traffic down low so it was really hard to see how it actually developed from the booth down low, but the important part was the puck hit the back of the net. Again, persistence and getting pucks to the net creates scoring chances, or in some cases like this creates a bounce that gets shined upon by the Hockey Gods and results in goals like these.

I thought the 'Nooks got off to a great energetic start, but a lot of that energy seemed to taper off. Early on in the first the 'Nooks took it to the Lakers, outshooting them 13-3 at one point. I'm not sure where that went, but the Lakers didn't seem to be doing anything different. Just the Nanooks weren't hitting some of the passes, and the puck just didn't want to cooperate at times bouncing over sticks and such. I hope they can get back to that groove to start tomorrow and keep putting that pressure on and getting scoring chances. If that pressure kept up early, the outcome of tonight's game would have been a little bit different. On a separate note, Sean Cahill played outstanding tonight. We should see him earn a start tomorrow night after that performance.

Tomorrow, the 'Nooks look to sweep the first CCHA series of the last season in the conference at home after tonight's 2-1 win, which ties them for 1st in the CCHA at the moment. Hope to see everyone at the rink tomorrow. Bring the brooms.

Game Day - Nanooks vs. Lakers

Game Center

Alaska Nanooks vs. Lake Superior State Lakers
11/2 7:05PM - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, AK

Live Video ($7) - AmericaOne Sports
Live Internet Radio - Bruce Cech -
Live Stats -

This weekend, the Nanooks look for revenge against a strong LSSU Lakers team that knocked us out of the playoffs last season. Seems like we've caught the Lakers at the right time as well as their starting goaltender Kevin Kapalka wasn't able to make the trip due to injury. The Lakers are also without some key scorers in Kellan Lain and Colin Campbell.

Coming off a home series split against a tough Michigan State team, you can expect a seasoned well-coached team like LSSU to come in hungry for points. But with Kevin Murdock in goal, I like the Nanooks chances this weekend.

On the Nanooks side, Nik Yaremchuk did suffer a pretty serious injury last week on the road, how long it will keep him out of the lineup remains to be seen. Other the other side of the ice, JD Peterson remains out due to an arm injury, but coach Ferguson remains optimistic that he might be able to get back into the lineup here in the next couple of weeks.

Sean Cahill gets the start in net tonight for the 'Nooks after earning the win in the second night against Ferris State. Will definitely be interested to see him get some reps at home and see how he performs at the Carlson Center. 

It's also parents weekend here, so for those parents that enjoy reading the blog feel free to come up and say hi at the post-game social tomorrow night. I'll be around!

Go 'Nooks!