Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up - Nanooks Take 3 of 4 From Bemidji State

Big weekend for the Nanooks to wrap up 3 points to head into break. Watching Friday's game, I think the 'Nooks really deserved a better fate than a 3-3 tie. But the boys didn't play it close on Saturday's game and put the pedal through the floor in a 5-1 win in which the bounces were finally going the Nanooks' way.

First let's take a look at Friday's game, and what better way then to actually show you some highlights.

Matt Friese and Alec Hajdukovich hooking up again in the first period early, as the history for these two continues to mount. Last season, Alec assisted on Friese's first goal of his career. Then in Anchorage Friese assists on Alec's first career goal. Now Alec returns the favor again. It would go the other way again on Saturday yet again. Entertaining statistics when you think about it. Ward's goal for BSU was a snipe. Can't fault Cahill for that too much, Ward is the leading scorer on their team for a reason and he showed why.

Hochhausen's play off the turnover to go ahead 2-1 was a thing of beauty too. What a snap. He's an impressive kid, and I like the way he plays. He's got some grit and he grinds hard. Love it.

BSU's defensive captain Matt Prapavessis tied it early in the 3rd on the continued power play from an unfortunate call to Basara for cross-checking late in the 2nd. Needless to say, penalties were an issue this weekend as well, but for both teams. Langseth as a CCHA vet I kind of expected a bit of a looser game, but I thought the little things just kept getting whistled. At least it went both ways.

Anyway, Perry's go ahead goal was the raw definition of a bad beat. Parayko earned that, and the players recognized it and got up on the play quick. A read that Bemidji's defenders didn't make with the exception of one: Matt Prapavessis. He gets so knotted up in impending doom and just falls over. Now its a 3 on 0 from the blue line in on the goaltender. No chance. Morley to Perry with Hochhausen trailing. Pass-Shoot-Score. 3-2.

Sadly the 'Nooks allowed the late tie. From? Guess who? Matt Prapavessis. Nearly the same damn play off the draw from the beginning of the period. Same side, same shot, high glove, with 1:40 to go on the clock. Ugh... Cahill played a good game for the most part, and I know that's a tough shot to track through traffic, but its a play that needs to be made.

On to Saturday's game, here's some more highlights.

Just a dominant performance. Davis Jones owned the Beavers that night, stopping 25 of 26 on the night, and putting up the wall on all 8 power play tries the Beavers had. A performance that ultimately landed him the nod as the WCHA's Rookie of the Week. Hajdukovich and Friese hooked up again as this pair seems to be rolling along and clicking. Beautiful play by Perry for his second goal on the weekend just driving the defender wide and straight up outworking him to get to the net. Then a quick wrister top shelf for the 2-0 lead. Then in the second period, just getting on a power play off the faceoff draw, the puck trickles to the high slot and Quinn just ripped a rocket high glove side for the 3 goal lead. I had this tweet out there just after the goal was scored that summed it up nicely.

What a beauty.

 The d-men kept rolling as Colton Parayko caught a pass crashing the net from Colton Beck who forced a turnover in the corner off the forecheck, finds Cody Kunyk going to the net, but just misses him on the pass but Parayko was coming down and picked it up. Goaltender didn't even have time to react as Ray made the quick deke backhand to forehand to bury the shot and the 4th goal on the night. Then Shawn Hochhausen with the long stretch pass up ice to Nolan Youngmun who gets behind the defense with 48 seconds to go in the period to go up 5-1.

While that closed out the scoring, the 3rd period was not to be without its theatrics. Beaver freshman forward Philip Marinaccio, with just under 3 minutes to play, with the game already out of reach, pulled the dirtiest play you can pull as a hockey player - taking the blade of his stick and spearing Trevor Campbell in the family jewels. A play that got him immediately thrown out of the game with a major and a game misconduct, and a play that I hope gets reviewed by the league. As a man there is nothing you can do or say to anyone else that makes actions like that justifiable. You know what they say about karma...

To get back on a happy note, the 'Nooks take 3 out of a possible 4 points out of the weekend as the WCHA closes up for the holidays. The 'Nooks return home January 3rd and 4th against Minnesota State before embarking on the annual 2-week roadie to Bowling Green and Northern Michigan. Then 8 of the final 10 games will be spent on home ice as the 'Nooks look to turn it on in the second half and rack up some points.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Game Day Preview - Nanooks at Bemidji

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks (6-8-2, 3-7-0 WCHA) vs Bemidji State Beavers (5-8-5, 5-4-3 WCHA)
7:37PM CST (4:37PM AST) - Sanford Center, Bemidji, Minnesota

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($9): WCHA TV | Live TV: KFXF Fox 7

Twitter: @NanookHockey

The guys have made it to Bemidji, Minnesota for the final series of 2013 as they get set to take on the Beavers in their home rink, the Sanford Center, tonight and tomorrow. Alaska coming off a split, including their first win in the last 6 hoping to build momentum going into the break. Bemidji salvaged a pair of ties to a Michigan Tech team that seemed to outplay them a bit both nights.

Bemidji is a new team for me. I have not yet watched them play a full game, however I did catch the final period and one overtime win they had against Lake Superior State the weekend I was on the road with the 'Nooks in Ferris State. Bemidji is a solid team, they play strong in the neutral zone, not real fast in transition but methodical--they don't seem to make a lot of mistakes. Seems like their big downfall though is puck movement in the offensive zone, finding the passing lanes and getting guys open. These opinions/assumptions are based on about 40 minutes total of watching them play, these are merely just observations.

From the Nanooks side, I liked the way they played Saturday's game against Anchorage. They were aggressive, physical, and they attacked early. When they came out of the gate like that, the 'Nooks buried two goals on 'em early, and were outshooting 8-1 11 minutes into the game. The penalty trouble aside, the 'Nooks owned them early and late. If the guys can stay out of the box, and keep the same energy, they can take over the game.

Bemidji's scoring is pretty evenly spread, save for one forward who 13 points--11 of which are goals. Cory Ward, a sophomore is second in the WCHA in conference goal scoring with 8. He's also tied with Cody Kunyk in goals scored overall with 11. Could be an interesting kid to keep your eye on this weekend.

A pivotal series for the Nanooks if you ask me. No secret that they have struggled recently, but I'm hoping that slump is over. They looked solid in Anchorage. And if they can get it together, get a big sweep here to go into the break, they could be staged for a second half run and get themselves back into this thing. A 4 point weekend would get the 'Nooks up to 10 points in a possible tie with Anchorage and with 2 games in hand.

No word on goalies for today. With Saturday's performance, I can assume Cahill will get the nod. Jones has not gotten a start in a while either, but I think coach Ferg would stick with Cahill. More on that later.

Tonight's game will be broadcast live on Fox 7 in Fairbanks, in addition to WCHA TV

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Video Highlights of Saturday's 5-4 Victory

The video below is a compilation of highlights courtesy of CBS 13's Jaime Schwartzwald. His hard work and passion for Fairbanks sports is a blessing. Be sure to check out his top notch sports coverage every weeknight at 6 and 11 on CBS channel 13. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nanooks Battle Adversity to Even Governor's Cup Race, Take Down UAA 5-4

Well the first period looked like the Nanooks managed to get the transmission out of 3rd gear. Early on yesterday, I thought we were skating circles around them but moreso tonight. Another quick goal, this time for Beck. Then a quick second goal on a transition turnover created by Erickson, battled for by Friese who won the battle against Derek Docken and sent a saucer backdoor for Hadukovich who banged it home. Great play in transition for that group, and the start to what I though was a great night for Hajdukovich. He has really played well of late. And he gets rewarded with his first collegiate goal in the biggest regular season series of the year. Big one for him.

That began what was a series of unfortunate events for Alaska as they battled penalty call after penalty call. The first of the game a bench minor for too many men on a bad change. Blake Tatchell collects a rebound on a flurry in front of the net and scored to cut the lead to 1.

That would be the first of 9 penalties in the game, 8 of which gave Anchorage the advantage, Including a major and misconduct to Tyler Morley for a big hit behind the Nanooks net. Couldn't see who took the hit but he spent a bit of time down on the ice as Morley got the gate. A lot of people in the UAF crowd yelled for diving. I'm not personally a fan of making such assumptions but nonetheless it was a big hit and he got the boot. 

But the calls continued as penalty after penalty assessed against the Nanooks forced several 5 on 3 situations.

While the penalty kill stayed strong early, after the first 5 on 3 ended, Anchorage was able to get the tying goal just as both players were able to get out of the box. 

After seemingly being able to escape the 2nd period and salvaging a tie, I'm sure everyone was hoping that the intermission would allow the 'Nooks to regroup a bit, aided by a bit of an extended intermission as the clock started late. 

But the 'Nooks unfortunately found themselves down 4-2 early in the 3rd after 2 quick scores 33 seconds apart within the first 3 minutes of the 3rd. 

Coach Ferguson then called a timeout to rally the troops and regroup. What followed was a feat to behold. And it was the skill players stepping up and making plays. The first was Colton Parayko joining the rush as Basara pulled out his camping chair in front of the net. Parayko's stick skills force two defenders to chase, but he still managed to get it to Basara who just had Gunderson to beat to bring it to within one. 

Then Trevor Campbell springs Cody Kunyk who tears through the Seawolves D and finds Colton Beck staring at an open net. Tape to tape and Beck buries it to tie. A must watch highlight.

Then Cody Kunyk buries the game winner with 2:47 to go seals the game winner as the Nanooks earn their first win in 7 games, evening the Governor's cup series 1-1. 

Alaska heads to Bemidji next weekend with some momentum as the Nanooks try to stay in the mix with the rest of the league before heading into the break. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Gangchorage Escapes With a 3-2 Win

Sad day down here in Anchorage. The Nanooks whipped the Seapups in everything but the score in a surprisingly civil game among the fans. Didn't see any incidents. The UAF student section was noticeably louder than theirs, but not a lot of energy from ours as the game wore on.

As soon as Basara scored that first goal 15 seconds into the 1st, I thought the 'Nooks were going to run away with it. I expected the slump to be over, but not so much. Dylan Hubbs with the breakaway evened the scoring through the first including the snarky tug of the jersey to the Nanooks fan section and as he passed by the Nanooks bench.

I think the 'Pups got the better of the play throughout the second period as they took the lead on a goal John Keeney may want back. Coldwell took the shot and the puck was rolling on him a bit, just seemed like it took a funny bounce over Keeney's blocker on the power play.

Tyler Morley knotted it up before the end of the 2nd and it gave the Nanooks a lot of momentum to open the 3rd. But the boys just couldn't capitalize. And the 'Pups put the dagger in the net with their first of just three shots on goal they had during the entire period. This one 9:35 in. Nanooks were outshooting them 4-0 before that goal.

I'm sure the team is frustrated too as the Nanooks losing skid continues through 5 games, and 1-7 in their last 8. The boys played well enough to win, but just couldn't get it done. The fight was there, the urgency was there, but couldn't get one through.

The snake venom needs to wear off soon. This bite hurts quite a bit...

Monday, December 2, 2013

From Behind the Green and Gold Curtain - A Guest's Perspective

It is rivalry week for Nanook Nation, as both hockey and men’s basketball make the trek to Anchorage this weekend to take on the Seawolves of the University of Alaska Anchorage. I’ll let Britton get into the details later on in the week, but hockey takes on UAA at 7:07 PM Friday and Saturday nights, and men’s basketball takes on UAA at 7:00 PM on Saturday. Nanook sports fans can send the UAA athletic department a thank you note for scheduling hockey and basketball rivalry games at the exact same time on Saturday by using this link:

As one of many ‘Nooks living behind the green and gold curtain in Southcentral Alaska, I would like to offer a sincere thank you to those of you from Fairbanks who are making the trip to Anchorage this weekend. As we all probably have noticed, our hockey team has been in a bit of slump the last few weeks, and there is no better slump buster than smacking around our archrival on their home ice.

When you look at other rivalries around the country, the best rivalries are organic in their hatred for the other institution. UAF-UAA is somewhat unique in that it goes beyond the universities and into a deep-seated hatred that Anchorage and Fairbanks as cities have for each other. The closest example of a similar rivalry is Washington’s Apple Cup between UW and WSU. That rivalry pits the big urban school from Seattle against the smaller agricultural school in a tiny town on the border with Idaho; it is east vs. west, urban vs. rural, and almost two different ideologies competing against each other.

UAF vs. UAA is rural vs, urban, north vs. south, and a small town comfortable in its own skin against a city trying to be a suburb of Bellevue. As any fan of the Seawolves will remind you, Anchorage does have more people than Fairbanks. Because UAA puts more emphasis on its athletic program than UAF does, it isn’t too surprising that they own most of the all time win-loss records against the Nanooks. Let them have this one historical data point over us; for a school that hasn’t had a winning hockey season since Nirvana was topping the charts, letting them hold on to victories from the 1980’s is the least we can do.

Which brings us to this weekend. Drive or fly down to Anchorage, and support our great university. If you live in the Anchorage area, get down to Sullivan Arena or the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. Like any good older sibling, we’ve helped our younger brother move up in life. And also like any good elder statesman, sometimes you need to smack down an upstart. Remember, every Nanook in the Sully or WFSC means there will be one less Seawolf in the building.

Last but not least, be courteous to our fellow Alaskans. Their fans like to refer to us as UA_, dump bears, bearflanks, Caribou Tech, and bust out signs that says “You can’t spell failure without UAF”, among other things that can’t be mentioned on a family website. Remember that two wrongs don’t make a right. Stay classy and let them be tacky. Open the door for them, smile and make eye contact, buy them a beer in the beer garden, and let them take their comeuppance with dignity.

Remember, they’re Anchorage, but we are Nanook Nation. GO ‘NOOKS.


[Blogger's note] Jason is a UAF alumnus and current Anchorage resident. As president of the Southcentral Alaska chapter of the UAF Alumni Association, the Fairbanks-Anchorage rivalry runs through his veins. Feel free tocontinue the discussion with Jason in the comments. Thank you Jason for contributing.    --Britton

Weekend Wrap Up - Closing Out Tech

OK, so I don't think anybody had the 'Nooks chalked up getting swept at home by Tech in their preseason guesses. I sure didn't.

While this isn't panic time yet, the reality is the 'Nooks have lost 6 of the last 7. 4 straight losses now mark the most with coach Ferguson at the helm, and the odd thing is over this past 4 game streak, the 'Nooks are averaging 3.5 goals allowed per game. A lot of which have been big plays. A team that once prided themselves on defense have been able to produce much more offensively this season, but seemingly foregoing what they've been known for since coach Ferguson took over.

I think part of that is goaltending. The three that have started thus far have not had that breakout game to really emerge themselves as the starter. All three have started at least two games now, with Sean Cahill getting his first action between the pipes this past weekend. None of the goaltenders have really had that impressive standout game that we've been bit by. In close games that the Nanooks have lost lately they've simply lost the goaltending battle. And in those tight games, it comes down to which tendy can make that one extra save. Sadly that just hasn't been our guys.

I'm also a bit disappointed with our fans the past few games. I realize the student section was missing a few due to the holiday, but with over 2,000 fans in the arena it was dead quiet at points this weekend. There were 7 fans from Michigan Tech that made more noise than our entire damn arena. They even tried to get the student section riled up and they just sat there...!!! It hasn't been that long, but the days of the Carlson Crazies when I was a student have apparently faded.

As an aside, I have to give props to those guys for buying every stuffed husky Fred Meyer had for sale. The official count I was told was 42, just shy of $400 worth. That was a pretty classy move.

On a positive note, there is still a lot of hockey left to play. And what better way to break a slump then to spank your rival and make them cry in their own house! It's rivalry week as the Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup series returns to a 4 game series and begins this coming weekend in Anchorage. Last I had heard, there were 3 motor coaches booked with members of Nanook Nation headed down to the Sully, and they usually get up for this series. Should be a fun one down there.

I have a guest submitting a post tonight for the rivalry, should be a fun change of pace to read someone new.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Nanooks Drop Game 1 to Michigan Tech 3-2

The Nanooks got off to a great start to jump the Huskies with an early goal on a beauty of a shot from JD Peterson. Now, Peterson didn't get the goal, put he placed the shot on Coply to hit his right pad, where the puck landed beautifully on Tyler Morley's stick off the rebound with a wide open net for the early 1-0 lead which last through the end of the first, a period largely dominated by the Nanooks defense controlling Tech's blue line.

But the second started very differently, as the guys kept getting trapped during their breakout. Tech had the play covered, as the took away the centering pass and kept a guy low. Petan was that guy. Twice. Once for their 1st goal, and for their 3rd. Almost identically the same play. 

Shane Hanna split the two with a snipe from the point for the first of his career. Good play that developed on the rush, as the play came back to the point after a flurry on the initial rush. Very nice shot to be honest, I can't fault Cahill for that either who looked good in his first start of the season.

Garrick Perry closed the scoring for the evening getting a shot through the short side under the blocker of Copley. Kind of a weird play that nobody was really sure what had just happened. From my angle, I didn't see the puck in the net until Copley moved enough to see the puck sitting under the rubber where the netting meets the base of the goal frame. The officials discussed it, and the puck definitely went in but just like me it caught everyone else by surprise as well.

The 'Nooks had the better chances in the 3rd to tie the game, but Copley came up big on golden chances from Tyler Morley and Cody Kunyk. On Morley's pseudo-breakaway, a lot of us thought that he actually scored before he got railed into the net. Turns out Tyler went across the goal line before the puck did. Again, the 'Nooks played well enough to win, but they weren't quite ready for the pressure that Michigan Tech came out of the 2nd period with.

Hopefully game two goes a bit differently and the 'Nooks can catch their stride. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Comeback Falls Short Ferris State Completes the Sweep, Remains Unbeaten in WCHA

Davis Jones got the start in goal tonight for Alaska, but game two started just as the first did. 3 goals from Ferris State early forces the Nanooks to fight back from behind yet again. All 3 goals fairly quick plays from Ferris who was just given too much room in the zone. I only got to see the highlights after the 1st period was over, thanks to the hotel WiFi after I made it to Green Bay.

But just like last night, the Nanooks again dialed up the pressure and turned the game around yet again. A late period penalty to Zach Dorer for hooking at the end of the 1st gives Alaska a power play to start the 2nd with a great opportunity to jump start the offense to get an early goal. And getting that goal they did as Cody Kunyk made a great pass through traffic to Parayko in the high slot creeping down, sniping one past Motte to cut the lead to 2 just 22 seconds into the period. 

Cue the momentum changing penalty as Atkinson was called for holding while fighting for the puck, but it only added fuel to the fire as Parayko dished a sharp outlet pass to a breaking Cody Kunyk who buried his 1st goal and 2nd point of the game one-on-one with CJ Motte shorthanded.

Just over 5 minutes later, the Nanooks had the Bulldogs chasing and out of gas after Garrick Perry and Michael Quinn made great plays to keep the play alive and trap the lines. Some smooth single changes got Kunyk free on the ice, who cut in front of the goal on a shot from Perry that Kunyk redirected through Motte's pads to tie the game up at 3.

Garrett Thompson for Ferris State banked in the ultimate game winner from behind the goal, getting some puck luck and a bounce off of Jones' right skate and into the net. 

A series of unfortunate results as the Nanooks hit a hot goaltender. The guys played well enough to win, despite getting down early in both games. Ferris was outmatched for the final 40+ minutes both nights, but the Nanooks need to find a way to start at that pace and dictate the flow of the game from the start. Looking at all of the facets of the game, from transition through special teams and O and D zone play, the Nanooks won each of those battles with the exception of the one stat that matters - goals. And in close games like this, the usual difference maker is the goaltender and CJ Motte is debatably the best in the country right now. 

With that, Ferris State's unbeaten streak extends to 8 games, and remains undefeated in WCHA conference play and further distance themselves from the rest of the conference. Meanwhile Alaska remains in a tie for 7th with 4 points. Granted, the Nanooks have two games in hand yet to play this season. Of which the final series of the season will be a rematch at the Carlson Center against Ferris State on February 28th and March 1st back in Fairbanks. 

And the Carlson Center will get the ice back in after the holiday bazaar this past weekend as the Nanooks return home for their first series in a month versus Michigan Tech. Somewhat unfortunate for the Nanooks as the next two home series both fall on holiday weekends. Next weekend against Michigan Tech over Thanksgiving, and then Minnesota State comes to town New Year's weekend. 8 of the last 10 games on the year will be in Fairbanks though to finish the season. A lot of travel in the middle, and starts and finishes at home.

Tonight I'm sleeping in Green Bay getting geared up for the Packers/Vikings game tomorrow. Should be an interesting one there as the Nanooks pack up and loads the bus in Big Rapids to get to Chicago for their return flight in the morning. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ferris State's Empty Netter Ends the Nanooks Comeback Efforts

Nanooks found themselves down 4 goals early in the 3rd period, but with 3 goals of their own, the guys found themselves in comeback mode, but it just fell short.

First period got off to a good start I thought. The Nanooks had good energy and controlled play early but fell victim to the Ferris State transition game and got back on their heels a bit., Gerald Mayhew made a good play across the blue line. J.D. Peterson made a good play to check Mayhew in my opinion, but the puck took a Ferris State bounce right on the stick of Domenic Panetta. With Peterson out of the way, Panetta just had Keeney to beat from low of the faceoff circle and he won that battle high glove side on Keeney.
Motte with a big save on Colton Beck in the 2nd period

2nd period the 'Nooks finally got some power play chances to work with after Cory Kane had a big hit on Cody Kunyk in the corner. I agreed with the call. Kunyk was not hurt, but the onus of the hit is on the hitter, and Kunyk's back was clearly turned. But sadly, two quick transitions for Ferris State late in the period less than 3 minutes apart. Robinson on a breakaway, and Binkley with a a hard shot on a 3 on 2 rush that Keeney couldn't get the arm closed soon enough as the Nanooks find themselves down 3 goals heading into the 3rd.

Ferris got up early on a slapshot from Chad MacDonald from above the faceoff circle. Then it was all Nanooks from there. Colton Parayko got a good rush started after Hajdukovich made the play at center ice to stop the transition. He made a great pass behind the defender Connor Schmidt to find Marcus Basara, who made a backhanded snipe top shelf over the blocker of Motte to break the goose egg.  There was blood in the water now, and the Nanooks just kept coming. Cody Kunyk made a phenomenal snipe of his own to the same spot about 5 minutes later with a great move to cut to the slot. That would mark point number 100 for his career.

Then just a minute and 15 seconds later, Tyler Morley brought the game within reach with about 8 minutes to go on a nice feed from Campbell. The Nanooks started bringing the house, but seemed to be in a bit of a panic, as none of the players seemed to want to keep the puck on their stick. When adrenaline gets pumping, and the pressure rises the need to get rid of the puck quickly but they had space to work with but couldn't settle it down.

Then an empty netter as Babinski breaks free of Quinn and puts the puck in the empty net with 38 seconds to go ends the Nanooks hopes at a comeback. They did it once against Mercyhurst, but couldn't get the elusive 4th goal tonight to get the win. Nanooks finish the game outshooting FSU 44-32. 34-18 in the final 2 periods.

The Nanooks return tomorrow for the final game of the series and look to end Ferris State's unbeaten streak.

Game Day - Nanooks Take On Bulldogs

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks (5-3-2, 2-2-0 WCHA) vs Ferris State Bulldogs (8-2-1, 5-0-1 WCHA)
7:07PM EST (3:07PM AST) - Ewigleben Arena, Big Rapids, Michigan

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($9): AmericaOne | Live TV: KFXF Fox 7

Twitter: @NanookHockey

So the blog has made it to Big Rapids this morning, seeing the first signs of snow flurries so far on this trip. Got in to Ewigleben arena this morning for the Nanooks preskate at 11:00AM and the guys looked pretty good. Seemed to have a lot of energy and they look ready to go. 

Ferris is an interesting place for hockey. The rink is pretty small and intimate. It seats roughly 2,000 people but the ceilings are maybe 20 ft. high. If that. With bleacher seating that wraps around one side of the rink and maybe 15 rows. The highlight is definitely the press box, though. And hopefully a couple of Nanook wins.

Ferris definitely has some skill players to keep in check, but I think the 'Nooks have more firepower in the top lines. Definitely going to be a good series to watch, that's for sure.

30 Second Clip from Morning Practice

Alaska Nanooks

F1 36 Colton Beck - 37 Cody Kunyk - 24 Nolan Huysmans
F2 12 Garrick Perry - 27 Tyler Morley - 9 Marcus Basara
F3 7 Josh Erickson - 14 Brandon Morley - 11 Alec Hajdukovich
F4 16 Joey Davies - 15 Shawn Hochhausen - 17 Jared Linnell

D1 6 Michael Quinn - 4 Colton Parayko
D2 22 Josh Atkinson - 18 Trevor Campbell
D3 8 Justin Woods - 10 J.D. Peterson

G1 39 John Keeney
G2 30 Davis Jones

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Nanooks On The Road Again to Face Ferris State

The boys are on the road again this week, taking on Ferris State in Big Rapids, Michigan. The blog is tagging along on this one, meeting up at practice on Friday. A pretty big and fun trip for me. I'm writing this from my hotel in Grand Rapids, about an hour south of Big Rapids. The team got in today and made it to Ferris State at about noon. I just got back from the Grand Rapids Griffins game after they destroyed Milwaukee 5-0. It wasn't really even a game. Went to the Red Wings game at Joe Louis on Tuesday, and will go again tomorrow before making the trip north to Ewigleben arena on Ferris State's campus, a rink that makes the Patty Center look like an NHL rink.

Ferris State has been doing quite well thus far this season, currently on a 7 game unbeaten streak, of which 6 of those games have been at home. During that streak, they've averaged 4.3 goals per game and allowing 2.4 per game. That +1.9 goal differential is 3rd best in the last 7 games, next to Minnesota and Boston College. That's pretty good company to be in. Now, the other thing to consider is that the combined records of the 4 teams that they have played is 15-24-7. Read into that what you will.

The Nanooks are coming off of a bye week after an already long trip home from Sault Ste. Marie got a little bit longer after their bus broke down. D'oh! More than 40 hours later, they got home very early Tuesday morning, and a week later they hit the road again. So not really a bye week as it turned out, but a weekend off, which is good for morale anyway.

The Nanooks have had decent success in Big Rapids, splitting with them in the only series early last season. Steve Thompson had a shaky game in net allowing 6 goals in just 24 shots, but the defense didn't help him much either. Offense had 43 shots on goal that night, but was stymied by CJ Motte in goal. Sean Cahill started the next night and got his first win, as Tyler Morley had one of the prettiest dangles in front of the net to get the game winner that you'll ever see. I remember that one like it was yesterday.

Ferris remains the only unbeaten team in conference play with a 5-0-1 conference record. Last week (I know I forgot to recap, my bad) was the first time the Nanooks had lost on Friday and the first time they won on Saturday. Granted, it was also the first games outside of Alaska.

Should be a good series. I'm hoping the 'Nooks can build off of that last win and keep momentum going. Hoping the bye week doesn't hurt those chances.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bounces Go Lakers Way, Nanooks Fall 4-1

Yesterday's loss to the Lakers mark the 3rd loss for the Nanooks on the season and their second loss in a row. But for the first road trip of the season, I was impressed with the legs and the energy the Nanooks had after their 26 hour roadie and 3,967 miles between the two cities.

I thought the 'Nooks had good legs in the first and second, and honestly took it to LSSU for the first 32 minutes, including a beautiful play by Nolan Huysmans with a great read by Trevor Campbell as Nolan made the steal at the blue line, and got around the defender. Campbell read the play from the slot and started bombing down ice to get in the play forcing a 2 on 1. Then Huysmans made a great no-look saucer pass over the defender's stick, fooled Kapalka who over-committed and Campbell made a phenomenal quick tap to the top shelf to go up 1-0 six minutes into the 2nd period.

Then a quick turnaround off a center ice turnover sent the Lakers back the other way on a 3 on 2 that pinballed through traffic before Alex Globke put it in the back of the net for his first of two on the evening. Things just started spiraling after that.

At the end of the first period, shots on goal were 7-6 in the Nanooks favor. 12:12 into the 2nd period the Lakers registered their 8th shot on goal which made it past Jones. The Nanooks were up 16-8 at that point in the game. And the gap would further close from there as the Nanooks couldn't get step back on the gas pedal. Then by the end of the second period, the 'Nooks found themselves down 3-1. Then the 4th goal dagger pounded into the Nanooks hearts 5 minutes into the 3rd.

The other thing to point out here is the Nanooks were 0 for 8 on the power play. Now Michael Quinn did put one past Kapalka late in the 3rd, but the officials took a look at it and waived it off. I have no idea why. I must have watched the replay a dozen times myself looking at the positioning of Nolan Huysmans who had the screen in front. I'm assuming here that they called no goal because he was in the crease, but Nolan did not impede the movement of the goaltender which by rule is allowed.

73.1 Interference on the Goalkeeper - A player of the attacking team may stand
on the goal crease line or in the goal crease, or skate through the goal crease,
unless, in the opinion of the official, the player is physically or visually
preventing the goalkeeper from defending the goal.
PENALTY—If a goal is scored, it shall be disallowed. Faceoff at the
nearest neutral zone faceoff spot.
The issue I have here is the word visually. Every team in hockey is planting a forward to screen the goaltender while attacking. And Kapalka reacted to the shot so he did see it at some point. As an official, how do you call that? If they ruled that Huysmans visually prevented Kapalka from making the stop, that's the most inconsistently ruled play in college hockey.

I hope the boys use the emotional fire from this and unload on the Lakers tonight. If they can stay on the gas, they can take the Lakers down.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Nanooks Fall Short 2-1 to NMU

I thought NMU played with some better pace tonight, which may have caught the 'Nooks by surprise.

Tyler Morley knocked home the first one on a great give and go with Perry after Garrick made the steal just inside the Wildcat blue line. But NMU had 2 unanswered as the progress the Nanooks were making with penalties was all of a sudden reversed. 

8 Nanook penalties tonight, again in key moments when they hurt momentum the most. 3rd period especially when you're trying to make a comeback then 3 penalties one after the other put a big damper on that. I was hoping, like many, that the momentum from the three successful PK's would generate the momentum but the Wildcats deserve a little credit at least for weathering the storm. Although it wasn't much of one. 

The biggest downfall was the lack of flow to the game. And that goes for both sides, although perhaps more noticeable for the 'Nooks. Too many missed passes and turnovers tonight for Alaska to win the hockey game. 

With 4 power play chances, the 'Nooks put just 4 shots on net. Errant passes, poor entry, and a lack of movement makes it hard to create scoring chances. That should be an emphasis going into Lake State next weekend, who just got their world rocked by Wisconsin 8-1 for their first loss of the season. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Nanooks Take Down Northern Michigan 5-4

OK I respect the fact that the 'Nooks got up 2-0 early. But why step off the gas??? If you can shove it down their throats, do so! As soon as the guys got the second goal, 4 of the cylinders in the hemi v8 cut out and all of a sudden it's sluggish hockey. Shots were 6-1 Alaska with about 6 minutes to go in the period, and they get the next 3 including a goal on a rebound.

That theme continued through the start of the second period as Northern tied the game until Luke Eibler railed Garrick Perry into the boards. He was a bit slow to get up, but the 'Nooks responded, picked it up and got northern on their heels and forced them to take a couple of bad penalties in a row as the 'Nooks banged home a pair of 5 on 3 power play goals for the 4-2 lead and tallied a 3rd as Hochhausen notches the 1st of his career on a great steal at center ice by Huysmans coupled with some smooth stick handling in the zone for the setup. 

But the Wildcats got on their toes and set up for an interesting ride as they closed the gap with two goals off of two miscues by the 'Nooks. One on an extended possession by Northern as they used puck control and safe passing to wear out the defense and forced them to over-pursue the puck carrier. As a player it's a difficult situation to be in after you've already been out there for 2 minutes and you're trying to defend a 3-2 shell, you can only take away the lanes for so long before you have to try and make a defensive play to clear it. Unfortunately that didn't swing in the 'Nooks favor as they got a puck through that pin balled into the goal. 

Then a costly penalty to Erickson late had them pull to within a goal but the D held strong and played well enough in front of Keeney late to help him out. 

Nice win for the boys tonight. I was impressed with the scoring but a little disappointed in the lack of consistent effort throughout the game. If you let off the throttle, you open the door for them to climb back in and that's exactly what happened tonight. Twice. Let's hope the boys can put 'em down hard tomorrow and get a sweep on parents' weekend!

'Nooks are now 4-0-0 on Fridays. 3-0-2 at home, 4-1-2 overall. 

Hajdukovich, Hochhausen, Brandon Morley, and Jared Linnell all notched their first career points this evening. 

Cody Kunyk remains at 98 points for his career. Thought he had an assist on Beck's goal but they changed it to Parayko. Probably because he's taller. 

Game Day - Nanooks Take On Northern for Parents' Weekend

Game Day

Parents' Weekend

Alaska Nanooks (3-1-2, 0-0-0 WCHA) vs Northern Michigan Wildcats (2-4-0, 0-0-0 WCHA)
7:07PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($9): AmericaOne | Twitter: @NanookHockey

As a fan of hockey, this series always piques the interest as the NMU series is always tough. Granted, the 'Nooks didn't have a lot of success with Northern over the years, but after sweeping the Wildcats at home a year ago I think the guys are getting over the realization that they're really not any different from other opponents.

But that being said, there is history to be written this weekend as the 'Nooks play their first ever WCHA conference games at home against a familiar CCHA rival. And while we got the better of Northern last year, they are a much different team this year. Hard to tell at this point if better or worse, but their defense returns a lot of experience in front of a net that leaves a big space to fill with Jared Coreau foregoing his senior season to sign a deal with the Detroit Red Wings. 

To put it bluntly, they've struggled to score. 6 games into the season and scoring 13 goals for just over 2 per game is not a winning formula when your defense is allowing around 2.7 goals per game. The latter is about middle of the pack for scoring defense in the country, just about where you want to be and a hair above the Nanooks at 2.8. 

The 'Nooks have had quite the opposite problem. With 21 goals at this point--especially considering that half of UA's opponents thus far were ranked--the boys are averaging 3.5 per game good for top 15 in the country. However, being at the top of national statistics is not always a good thing. And with 135 penalty minutes in 6 games--3rd most--something needs to change. I'm probably not the first person you heard from that has said that the 'Nooks have been slighted. Majors that should have been minors, as well as minors that weren't even penalties in my book have been rampant throughout the games that I've seen thus far. 

But the officials aren't going to change their minds, and that's all in the past. Coach Ferguson has stated it to the players, but its fairly obvious that the guys just need to be more responsible with their hits and checks. And if they get a penalty, chirping to the officials isn't going to make it any better for the team as the game goes on. There is simply a new look at how existing rules are enforced and the game is going to be called tighter. I can complain all I want, but in the end its better for everyone. And the coaching staff will keep steering the guys in the right direction to play the right way.

After splitting time last weekend, John Keeney will get the start in goal tonight. While Jones may start tomorrow, I thought Keeney looked absolutely phenomenal in the second game against Mercyhurst. Positioning and rebound control was stellar and all but one goal of the three he allowed, I can't fault him for. And if he only gives up one a game that he could have stopped, we're doing pretty good and I didn't even mention all the shots that he stopped but probably shouldn't have. Keeney had a solid game Saturday, and apparently a great week of practice so I'm told so he'll earn the start tonight as the boys look to impress their parents in the crowd.

No word on the official lineup just yet. I know Youngmun, Larson, and Coyne are still out to injury, but Justin Woods was in full practice this week so hopefully he'll get a chance to suit up. Be sure to follow me on Twitter throughout the weekend so you'll get the full lines and pre-game starters before they're announced on the ice.

Go 'Nooks, and we'll see you at the Carlson Center!

Friday, October 25, 2013

'Nooks Rally From 3 Goal Deficit to Win 5-4

Good comeback for the'Nooks tonight. I'll admit, even I had doubts after Mercyhurst went up 4-1 in the second period. I was a little beside myself to tell you the truth. Passing was terrible, and the breakout was nowhere to be found for a lot of the game. But the 'Nooks beared down and went to work, overcoming the odds to equal the largest defecit overcame in regulation under coach Ferguson. 

After jumping out to an early 1-0 lead, the Nanooks seemed to not be ready for Mercyhurst to pick it up. The Lakers started coming and the 'Nooks just didn't bring enough to stop 'em at first. 

Give Mercyhurst credit. They played with a lot of intensity and clearly used their flight time to study up on some video. They had the Nanooks breakout read pretty well, and feeding on turnovers like their mothers owned a bakery. I couldn't believe what I was watching. 

However, the 'Nooks shook it off and started to play tough, grind-it-out hockey and just flat out went to work. And in the 3rd period, it was the Beck and Kunyk show that was on full display. Beck rattled off two including a shorty, both from Kunyk. And Kunyk nabbed the game winner from Beck with 1:39 to go. 

Overall, a solid effort in the comeback from a situation the guys probably shouldn't have been in. But with perseverance and grit, the boys came back and earned the win. 

John Keeney will start in goal for the 'Nooks tomorrow, which was planned from the beginning to rotate the two this weekend. Look for the two of them to push each other all season. 

Western Recap, Mercyhurst Preview - It's Hybrid Post Friday

So I didn't realize that I didn't post the wrap up right after the game on Saturday, so this will be an abridged wrapup of the Goal Rush, and a preview of the Mercyhurst series. My apologies for the oversight. Fortunately most of the Western game that's written below was saved from Saturday

Saturday night, the first period kept the same pace the Nanooks exerted Friday. Good, fast energy with good intensity. Getting the benefit of the early power play that the Nanooks would capitalize on as both teams would ultimately exchange power play goals throughout the first period. Kunyk with a wrister down low over Slubowski's glove. Huysmans made a nice play down low around the net to get the puck through the crease to Kunyk who was left alone. Oops. 1-0.

Hargrove for Western with a slapper from the top of the faceoff circle high over Jones' blocker to tie it 1-1. A hard shot even for a veteran goaltender to stop with that much traffic in front. But another goal on the power play for Western on the weekend.

The 2nd period had some more great hockey riddled with some unfortunate penalties that seemed to swing the momentum both directions. Quite honestly the officiating in all 4 games this weekend was questionable at best. Nonetheless the second period went scoreless, and Hargrove put another one past Jones on a costly turnover behind the net.

Now behind 2-1, the Nanooks would play call and answer for the remainder of the period as Nolan Huysmans knotted it back up just over 2 minutes later. This was one of those plays that you know, as a fan, that a goal is coming. You can just feel it. I was a little worried for a minute, but the 'Nooks had Western chasing their own tails as they couldn't stop the puck from moving. Michael Quinn got the puck from Kunyk on the point and he took a shot on net that Huysmans got a tip on just in front to tie it again.

Conveniently right as Huysmans scored the goal, CBS 13's Jaime Schwartzwald was conveniently standing next to Nolan's dad Harry in the stands. Right after the celebration starts, you'll see Jaime pan to him as he's applauding his son. Cool moment. Nice work Jaime. That's just before the 2 minute mark in this highlight video that Jaime put together.

I met Nolan's parents last season for the first time during the Governor's cup series, really nice family. I'm glad they were able to come watch their son bag a goal.

After Berschbach scored for Western again to go up 3-2, Tyler Morley's line with Perry who deked through the Western defense so fast, they didn't even see what was coming.  Perry got the initial shot that looked like it would have gone in anyway, but Morley added the insurance, tapped it home and probably owes Perry some form of liquid refreshment after that.

Both defenses played well in overtime. I thought Western had a couple of good chances that developed early in the extra frame, but Jones stayed solid. Parayko wristed the lone goal in the shootout for the Nanooks to win the tournament, as both Western and Alaska were tied at 1-0-1 records on the weekend. This marks the second year in a row that the Nanooks have won their own tournament, and have won four times out of the six total the Nanooks have hosted.

If you didn't hear the news, Air Force and Penn State will be next year's field for the Goal Rush tourney alongside Alaska and UAA. The Hockey Classic in Anchorage next season will feature Wisconsin and Maine facing off against both Alaska teams. But there's a lot of games between now and then.

Two of those games comes this weekend against Mercyhurst which will be hosted at the Patty Center due to the AFN convention in town, which has the Carlson Center AND the Big Dipper booked solid through Sunday. Should make things interesting as every advertisement I've seen has had "sold out" appended to it, as the Patty Center can't even accommodate all of the season ticket holders, let alone an actual student section.

Students will have the added benefit of the Nanooks Tailgater going on next door at the Student Recreation Center, where the game will be projected on a huge screen with food and drinks, but without the benefit of harassing the visiting goaltender. Life is about sacrifices, sometimes.

The Patty Ice Arena serves as the Nanooks' practice rink during the week, but that is where games were actually held full time until the Carlson Center opened in the early 90's. Between the seating and the standing room on the balcony, the Patty seats about 1,300 people at totally packed shoulder to shoulder maximum capacity. Which is less than half of the average attendance at the Carlson Center and not even the number of season ticket holders. So expect things to be a little... strange.

But the good news is, when that building is packed. It is LOUD. And since we won't have a goal horn, or much of a sound system, we need the crowd to be loud!

Since the guys are playing in the old building, I suppose it would be appropriate to wear throwback jerseys. And that's exactly what the boys are doing. Essentially the current  jersey with replaced decals in the old styling. Looks pretty good if I do say so myself.

Should be a fun weekend of hockey. While I think the guys can sweep Mercyhurst, they shouldn't overlook them by any means. I just hope the walls of the Patty don't fall over in the process.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Game Day - Nanooks versus Western Michigan

Game Day

Brice Alaska Goal Rush, Day 2, Game 2

Alaska Nanooks vs Western Michigan Broncos
7:07PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($9): AmericaOne | Twitter: @NanookHockey

Kind of nice to have a true championship game in one of these tournaments to be honest. Not having to worry about tie breakers, and all of that nonsense. 

But the Nanooks have another tough test tonight after Western demolished Anchorage in a penalty-ridden 6-2 win yesterday. Frank Slubowski is a monster in net and the 'Nooks have seen him before. After hanging 5 goals on him in just over 2 periods last season, the guys should know that he's not unbeatable.

For the 'Nooks, hard to say what the gameplan is. The Nanooks' staff has elected to withhold line charts until the required release time. Likely a game time decision to be made for somebody. 

Be sure to keep up on Twitter for live coverage during the games. It promises to be a good one tonight.

Nanooks Take Down Denver 3-2 in OT Thriller

As a fan of the sport of hockey, that was a fantastic game to watch. Good effort and pace all the way around tonight by both teams. Denver has a very complete team and play very well in all zones and in all situations, but the Nanooks were the better team tonight. 

The flow of the first period was very fast, and the 'Nooks had a lot of offense generated. Even though the shots favored Denver, the chances favored the 'Nooks. But Denver capitalized on a costly defensive mistake around the net. Good on Jones for earning the start tonight, but you can't leave your rookie goaltender out to dry like that against this type of team. Those opportunities won't be missed. 

But the guys didn't get down at all, they kept attacking and created some great chances but couldn't find the back of the net. But they forced Levin to take a penalty in the last minute and start the 2nd with an advantage. 

In the second, the Pioneers capitalized on another favorable bounce as the puck took a long ricochet off the linesman's skate and collected for a goal. The 'Nooks had the clear and were set to make an odd man rush up the ice until the linesman failed to hop it. 'Nooks were caught up 3 on 1 at that point and they took advantage. 2-0. 

But the Nanooks were awakened. They responded and turned the game right around, started pressing harder and asserting their play. Then with less than 15 seconds in the 2nd, Tyler Morley made a nice play in front of the net not just to force the puck free, but to tie up two defenders to give Basara a chance to bury it, and he did. Nice goal for the freshman.

Then on the power play, on an extended shift, Colton Parayko finds Cody Kunyk near the back door on the power play. Coach Ferguson said in the post game conference that he was screaming at the guys to get off the ice. Nice patience by Kunyk as well letting Sam Brittain get down and get the shot high to tie the game.

Then Garrick Perry's overtime game winner seemed to cap the apparent theme for the night: perseverance. The Nanooks stuck with it all game, even down two goals, they stuck with it and kept fighting. Perry did the same thing, his first shot went in to the skates of the defender, and the puck was fortunate to settle down right in the slot and Perry beat Brittain low blocker side.

Tomorrow, the 'Nooks take on Western Michigan who pasted Anchorage 6-2. Not sure how to gauge them, because quite honestly, Anchorage played a terrible game. Hoping the 'Nooks get the laces tight tomorrow and takes it to the Broncos.

Great attendance and energy for the fans tonight, let's hope it gets rockin tomorrow. Go 'Nooks!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Game Day - Brice Alaska Goal Rush - Nanooks vs. Pioneers

Game Day

Brice Alaska Goal Rush, Day 1, Game 2

Alaska Nanooks vs Denver Pioneers
8:07PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($9): AmericaOne | Twitter: @NanookHockey

Back at home, the 'Nooks look to recover from the 4-1 loss to Quinnipiac back on home ice as they take on Denver, a 2-0 team coming off of a sweep against Merrimack last weekend in non-conference play. As I posted last week, I thought the 'Nooks had good effort in the loss but it took a rough 1st period for the guys to realize that the team that they watched play Anchorage was not the same team that played them Saturday night. Watching the game a second time from different angles makes that even more apparent. 

The guys have Denver to contend with tonight, and the Pioneers are no joke. Gwozdecky may have been fired, but its not like Denver is in a bad spot. Their head coach Jim Montgomery even thanked Gwoz at this afternoon's Face-Off Club Luncheon. Multiple times.

Can't blame the guy, after nearly two decades of leading that team to a number of NCAA tournaments, including 2 national titles in 2004 and 2005. 

The last time Denver visited Fairbanks was back in 1992, when the Nanooks split with them at home with a 7-2 win, followed by a 7-3 loss.

A few line changes for tonight as the Morley brothers get split for the first time this season, centering their own lines. Brandon is flanked by Perry on the left and Erickson to the right. That should be a good gritty line. Tyler has Larson on the left and Basara to the right. The top line goes unchanged while Friese and Davies join the lineup for the first time centered by Hochhausen.

Atkinson and Campbell, as well as the Parayko and Quinn pairings are back to intact. Kaiser and Peterson round out the defensive corps.

The roster sheet also has David Jones starting ahead of John Keeney tonight. Not sure if that's accurate or not, but make sure to follow me on Twitter for tonight's starters and in-game updates.

Go 'Nooks!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Nanooks Fall 4-1 to Quinnipiac

That's going to be a tough one to swallow. Poor play by the 'Nooks early in the game buried them down two goals before they could get their legs under them and pull themselves up. Quinnipiac did not look like they did against Anchorage, but if the 'Nooks played their game it was very winnable.

First period was pretty sloppy from my perspective. I don't have the greatest angle on things here, but the 'Nooks couldn't create plays at all in the offensive zone. Quinnipiac took every passing lane away, forcing the puck carrier to make plays and couldn't.

The 'Nooks started getting more creative with their play, and got some chances late but as soon as momentum started to swing in the Nanooks' favor the official calls Tateson for a high sticking minor as he was checking the puck carrier, who was a clear 6" shorter than he was. Then Kunyk gets called for elbowing and now its 5 on 3 for the Bobcats and they get another power play goal. Then another call for Atkinson for interference on the final faceoff of the period as the timer expires.

If it weren't for the effort in the second period, this would be a lot less nice of a post. I'll at least be honest with you. Not like I wasn't before, that is...

Anyway Nanook boys played a tougher game in the second, bagging a power play goal as Huysmans put away his second of the year. Parayko with the initial shot on goal as the goalie couldn't cover it. Huysmans found it and poked it home to cut the lead to one, but a mental mistake on the Nanooks part as the puck was cleared near the net  to the left wing side as Connor Clifton pinched in from his defensive spot to bury a slapper to put the lead back to two. But the 'Nooks certainly played more disciplined hockey that period, no question.

Third period lead out with the Nanooks setting the pace early. A couple of quick chances early had the Bobcats on their heels before Colton Beck was called for a slash. But that didn't slow the 'Nooks down, they sped up. Quinn had some strong stick work at the blue line forcing a turnover and got a stride on Matthew Peca who fell asleep at the wheel. Quinn's rush in the zone forced Peca to trip him up, which equalized it 4 on 4.

Back to 5 on 5, the 'Nooks had some chances to close the gap again as Parayko, Morley, Beck, Kunyk, and Larson all had chances around the net, but none could find their way in. And after another Brandon Morley penalty, the Bobcats poured some more salt in the wound and put home another power play goal to close the scoring 4-1. But in 6 periods of hockey played this weekend, the 'Nooks have committed 73 minutes in penalties, nearing a total of 4 periods worth in just two games. If they stay out of the box, its a different game.

Don't get me wrong, Quinnipiac beat the 'Nooks tonight. They exposed some holes in the Nanooks' transition game that I'm sure will get addressed in practice. But that was not the same team that played Anchorage last night. They were much more sound defensively and played much better around their own net.

As far as the tournament goes, if Air Force beats Anchorage by less than 8 goals, the 'Nooks win the tournament. But Anchorage has to lose, not tie the Falcons. Should be interesting.

Game Day - Nanooks vs Quinnipiac Bobcats

Game Day

Kendall Hockey Classic, Day 2, Game 1

Alaska Nanooks vs Quinnipiac Bobcats
4:07PM AKST - Sullivan Arena, Anchorage, Alaska

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($9): AmericaOne | Live TV KFXF Fox 7 Fairbanks

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Line Charts: Alaska | Quinnipiac

Yesterday, the Seapups got the better of the Bobcats in a fairly gritty affair. I thought Quinnipiac played a cleaner game. Better changes, better plays, but ACC outplayed them in effort. Can't blame QU too much, considering the game ended at about 3:00AM EST. 

The Nanooks had a good night against Air Force, but in a bit of a weird way. The result obviously favored Alaska but they weren't as dominant as the score showed. I'm obviously a biased guy in that sense, but Air Force couldn't contain the Nanooks in the offensive zone. They had chances to clear, but the skill players took over and made the difference.

A few lineup changes tonight as J.D. Peterson, Trevor Campbell, and Nolan Youngmun will sit for the 'Nooks tonight as Justin Tateson, Nolan Kaiser, and Alec Hajdukovich will get in for the first time against the 10th ranked Bobcats.

Brandon Morley and Jared Larson will switch sides on Tyler Morley's line. Linnell and Perry will also swap lines, as Perry will join Erickson and Basara. The Nanooks were down to 10 forwards late in the game yesterday, which was kind of a blessing in disguise as coach Ferguson was able to mix and match some players together to see how they fit together. 

Basara had some good work up with Kunyk and Beck but there might be a bit of a learning curve for Basara to get used to the compete level at this level of hockey. Basara was a stud in juniors but I'm not convinced that he's fully up to speed yet. But I think he'll shape up to be a stud before the season is out. 

 For the Nanooks as a team tonight, they need to be better on offensive zone possession. They did well building chances on the rush, but too many times possession ended after the initial shot. Sound positioning to get rebounds, and making smart decisions with the puck to prevent turnovers. If they can keep it away from the Bobcats, they will lure them out of position, get them frustrated and force them to make bad decisions. They over-pursued Anchorage forwards yesterday, just hoping they make the same mistakes today. 

Go 'Nooks! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nanooks Ground the Air Force Falcons 6-1

The first period tonight was a bit of a weird one in my opinion. When the Nanooks had possession, they did rather well as the 3-0 lead would indicate, but with a total of 19 minutes in penalties in the first 20 minutes--5 and a game (10) assessed to Brandon Morley on a hit that was shoulder to shoulder but could have been called boarding at best--doesn't bode well for puck possession.

Obviously starting off quick with a goal 12 seconds in gets things started off on the right foot. Huysmans was good to stay where he was as the Air Force player recovered the puck from the crease and tried to clear it to himself but Huysmans was right there, snagged it and bagged it. Love the positioning there. He's a good compliment to Beck and Kunyk now that Taranto is scoring goals for the Aces these days.

Then Cody Kunyk with that magic wand that others call a stick made a few waves as Air Force defenders couldn't seem to touch him. Every stick lift and poke check they made, Kunyk kept it on and put on a show. Then buried it. Great play, great hands, should be a fun highlight to watch later.

Then with the Morley major, Michael Quinn hooked up with Jared Larson on a breakaway shorthanded goal with some nice mitts to get the goalie to bite before sliding it around his pad for the 3rd of the period.

2nd period much the same as the Nanooks kept the foot on the gas. Although it took a while to break through, Kunyk had one of the most beautiful high-to-low deflections that I've seen in a while. Parayko ripped one high from the point and deflected it just inside the faceoff circle to the goaltenders left. A phenomenal goal.

This was Kunyk's 9th multi-goal game of his career, and his 5th goal in the Kendall Classic tournament.

But Air Force answered just 23 seconds later as a crowd formed in front of Keeney, and Michalke got Air Force on the board with essentially an open netter. Then the 'Nooks answered right back 17 seconds later as Garrick Perry buried a rebound off of Parayko's shot on the rush. Goalie had to sprawl to stop Parayko's shot. Had no chance at Perry's.

Basara capped the scoring in the 3rd with his first goal of his collegiate career. Another crowd in front of the goaltender as he found the loose puck and buried it for the goal. In the books as an unassisted goal.

A bit of a weird game in the end. It was the most major penalties I've seen called in a single game. A lot of people have asked me in the arena about the Atkinson hit at the end, and I don't think that was intentional at all. He intended the hit after his pass was picked off. But Timar saw it coming and ducked  to the side just before impact. They went leg to leg, and Timar needed some help off the ice. Hope that he's okay. I wouldn't wish injuries on even my worst enemies.

Good on the Nanooks for staying disciplined defensively, Air Force had some good chances to get some goals but the Nanooks had 18 blocked shots on the day, as they put the Falcons down 6-1.

Anchorage plays Quinnipiac here in about 15 minutes from this post. Will be nice to get a read on the Bobcats offense after losing 11 seniors from last season.

Go 'Nooks!

Game Day - Nanooks Take On the Air Force Falcons

Game Day

Kendall Hockey Classic, Round 1, Game 1

Alaska Nanooks vs Air Force Falcons
5:07PM AKST - Sullivan Arena, Anchorage, Alaska

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($9): AmericaOne | Live TV KFXF Fox 7 Fairbanks

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Line Charts:  Alaska | Air Force

Tonight, Jared Larson said it best as the Nanooks begin their quest for a championship. I've said it before, I'll say it again: This team is more focused and motivated team from a year ago. And seven new Nanooks will don the jersey for the first official game of the season. The Linnell-Erickson-Basara line that was so impressive in the exhibition game is back together again tonight.

Not sure what about these three that clicked so well last week, but I want to see more of it this weekend. You probably can't tell, but I'm excited... And the Morley brothers will team up with newcomer Jared Larson who compliments those two really well with his size. That's half of the lines for tonight right there. As expected, John Keeney reassumes his role as the starting goaltender, and Davis Jones listed as the primary backup behind him.

Should be a good game tonight. For those of you following online, the line charts for both Alaska and Air Force are linked above for your analyzing pleasure.

Go 'Nooks!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Game On! Nanooks Regular Season Opens in Anchorage's Hockey Classic

It's finally here... The return of college hockey, and the Alaska Nanooks as the "greatest game on the planet" nears its first puck drop of the collegiate season. Three seniors, seven juniors, nine sophomores, and eight freshmen seek their stamp on Alaska Nanooks history in the inaugural season as a member of the WCHA.

For those of you that don't follow me on Twitter, the government shutdown has left the Air Force Academy (all of the service academies, really) without an operating budget. Meaning all travel had been officially cancelled. Just last week, the Air Force/Navy football game in Washington D.C.--a nationally televised rivalry--was on the brink of cancellation until United Airlines stepped in and donated a jet to get the Falcons to D.C.

Obviously football is not their only sport, and their hockey team found themselves in a similar situation until our friends at UAA stepped in to help split the cost with the Air Force Academy Athletics Corporation, a non-profit that operates financially independent of the Academy to the tune of about $11,000.

So with Air Force officially in town, we are all systems go for tomorrow. The Blog packs up and ships down south to cover the tournament in the morning. Promptly after the routine Buffalo Wild Wings trip, I'll head to the rink for a pre-game post as we get set to face Air Force in a rematch from last season's 3-3 tie at the same tournament.

I'm not really sure why the Nanooks are playing Air Force first instead of Quinnipiac on Friday evening. I guess the folks down south think it gives them a fighting chance thinking they have an edge playing them first. Typically you would schedule them on a Saturday to statistically draw more fans. But since that's been enough of an issue lately to close over 50% of the seating in the arena due to attendance, I'm not really sure where their minds are.

But that said, I'm looking forward to this tournament. As I alluded to with the exhibition win, there is just something about this year's Nanooks that has me excited for these first couple of weeks and what they have in store for us. Three of the first four games this season are against top 20 teams according to USCHO, and will be a great way to get this season rolling.

And don't count Air Force out. They are a gritty team. They work hard, and they press hard defensively. They don't give any space, and if the Nanooks are going to make plays on this team, they need to create those chances in transition game and make those stretch passes cleanly. The 'Nooks should be the better team here, but by no means should Air Force be overlooked. That's not going to happen tomorrow. I think our guys' heads are in a better place, and I think they have the confidence to dictate the flow of the game.

After Air Force comes Quinnipiac on Saturday night. Officially the 2nd best team in college hockey last season, losing to Yale 4-0 in the National Championship. Ironically just three weeks after the Bobcats took out Yale 3-0 in the ECAC championship, and their two meetings in the regular season. But after losing 12 seniors (yes, that was not a typo) from last season, Quinnipiac has a lot of doubters in the college hockey media world. But 12 guys does not make a full roster, and there is a lot of talent still there. Matthew Peca and Kellen Jones to name the two top returning scorers, both NHL draft picks, along with Connor Jones contributed a combined 25% of the total offensive production for the Bobcats last season.

Quinnipiac finished last season 30-8-5, and put together one of the greatest unbeaten streaks in history, a run of 21 straight games before St. Lawrence and goaltender Matt Weninger put together a defensive shell in the 3rd period that Steven Stamkos couldn't crack. I watched a replay of that game on FCS last season, and was one of the better hockey games I've seen in a while.

The Nanooks have their first tests of the regular season this weekend, and its going to be some fun hockey to watch. Fox 7 is airing the Air Force game live tomorrow at 5PM and replayed at 10PM. Then the Quinnipiac game will be tape delayed at 10PM due to college football obligations. The games will also be streamed online I'm told, but I believe details are still being worked out on that front. More to come on that later.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Nanooks Maul UBC 8-1 in Exhibition Opener

After the Nanooks got up 2 goals in the first two minutes, I have to give credit to UBC, they shored up the D and protected their net much better, taking away the shooting lanes. UBC's breakout also was very patient, and efficient. 

But, the Nanooks still dominated the first period of impressively fast hockey. Playing Regina last year, it was quite uneven. However, UBC plays a similar style and pace of hockey and they made the 'Nooks work for it. 

On Campbell's goal, Brandon Morley made a nice read to pick off an outlet pass to keep the Nanooks in the offensive zone. Getting it to Campbell,
Trevor rushed in and created an angle on the goaltender and sniped one in. 

Quite honestly, I didn't actually look up to see Basara's goal until the puck had already hit the net. It was described to me as a shot high blocker off a nice pass from Linnell across the crease. It's preseason for me too...

The Nanooks played a pretty clean game, all said and done. I was a little disappointed to see some defensive breakdowns late in the game, leaving Davis Jones alone with an undefended forward in his crease. 

Jones did see the majority of the shots in the game as UBC had 15 in the final period. I felt like UBC was a bit of a different team late in the game. Not so much that the 'Nooks slowed down, but that UBC started pouring it on more. Definitely started to get a bit chippy there towards the end as well. 

As far as the 'Nooks go, get your popcorn ready for the Morley brothers show. The two of them together spell danger for all who oppose them. Brandon, like his brother. Is so quick and shifty, he can change directions on a dime. Watching him on the PK units tonight was a lot of fun. Jared Larson complements them well with a bigger body, not that either of those two are lacking in the physical department either. 

Also, the rookie line of Linnell, Erickson, and Basara is going to be one to watch. I don't know if this line (or any lines really) will stick, but Erickson and Basara had some good chemistry going on too. My favorite play of the night was Erickson breaking out of the box and getting a breakaway goal on a beautiful setup by Trevor Campbell. It's been a while since I've seen a play like that, executed that well. 

Other than that, not much can really be inferred at this point. Let's hope the guys keep their spirits up and get some good work in this week, because the games count starting Friday. I'm hoping this whole shutdown thing doesn't impact Air Force getting up here. I got my tickets all ready to go, I'm shipping down Friday morning. 

There's just something about this team... I can't put my finger on it yet, but something special is going to happen this year...

Game Day: The Nanooks Host the UBC Thunderbirds in Carlson Center Opener

Game Day


Alaska Nanooks vs UBC Thunderbirds
5:37PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, AK

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports

Live Internet Video ($8): AmericaOne | Radio: 820 AM Fairbanks

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Tonight, the UBC Thunderbirds venture to Fairbanks to take on the Nanooks. Last night, the Thunderbirds faced off against our friends down south as ACC required two power goals to defeat UBC 2-1, including a goal on a 5 minute major penalty. 621 Anchorage fans packed the new 750-seat Wells Fargo Center to witness the victory.

Penalties were rampant last night, with 14 total being called. Anchorage took 9 for 18, while UBC had 5 for 21 including the 5 minute major accompanied by the misconduct. Officials are trying to make the game as clean as possible, I get that. But the game is an exhibition, and the officials will likely be more strict to set the tone for the regular season. So be prepared if some of the calls are a But after finishing last season 4th in the nation with an 89.9 percent penalty kill, practice makes perfect.

It should also be noted that UBC scored the only even strength goal of the night last night, either indicating that UBC's defense and goaltender are really good. Or Anchorage's offense/defense, not so good. Shots for the evening were 28-25, with a slight edge for ACC.

On the Thunderbirds, they finished with their best season in Canada West last year under head coach Milan Dragicevic before falling to the Calgary Dinos in the quarterfinals. Finishing 18-14-3 last season, they gave Denver and Colorado College a run for their money in their respective exhibitions last year. then-#8 Denver tied 2-2 last season before Colorado College (20th at the time) edged a 3-1 win over UBC in Colorado Springs. Air Force was not so lucky.

The moral of the story is, UBC is clearly competitive. My fun jabs at UAA aside, UBC is clearly a skilled hockey team with some key players, some with connections to guys on the Nanooks' roster but I'll get to that in a bit. During the offseason UBC added Nick Buonassisi to their roster, citing good offensive speed with an aggressive forecheck. Last night, that paid off as his linemate Matt Wray made a play to keep the play alive in the offensive zone on Jordan Kwas then Nick made a pass (admittedly aided by a favorable bounce) to Greg Fraser for the goal. Doyle Woody--who's journalistic opinions I actually value--also praised UBC goalie Matt Hewitt's 26 stops in the loss.


If you didn't see my tweets earlier this week, head coach Dallas Ferguson has named the captains for this season tapping Colton Beck to lead the team as the 2013-2014 Captain. Fellow seniors Cody Kunyk, and Michael Quinn will don the 'A', as well sophomore defenseman Colton Parayko.


Just like seasons past, you can't play a Canadian team without a few connections. Just for what I could easily find from their roster,

  • UBC forward Jessi Hilton played two seasons with Kunyk for the Sherwood Park Crusaders in the AJHL.
  • Marcus Toye and Justin Tateson played two seasons together on Drumheller Dragons in the AJHL.
  • Nanooks defenceman Nolan Kaiser played with UBC forwards Matt Wray and Cole Wilson for Camrose in the AJHL.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Boys are Back! - Blue Takes Down Gold 3-2 via Shootout

As the team lined up on their respective goal lines, The Boys are Back hit the PA, and for me it finally settled in -- Hockey is Back! And it feels phenomenal. Always nice to have something to look forward to on the weekends.

Box Score

Freshman Joey Davies takes a faceoff for the Blue team.
This years edition of the Alaska Nanooks looks pretty impressive for early in the season. While there a few screws to be tightened, overall the game had some good flow to it. I saw a lot of sticks up in the air, and a few missed passes as a result. Fundamentals have been preached in practice all week as well, so I'm sure we'll see some improvements there for the exhibition versus UBC next weekend.

The story though for the night was the newcomers. For starters, Jared Larson was a difference maker on the ice tonight. He's got good vision and one hell of a pair of mitts. His stick skills are smooth. Joey Davies and Josh Erickson both are also going to be fun to watch this season. Seems like Erickson got a bit shaken up in the second half tonight, but it didn't seem serious. In my previous post, I also mentioned Marcus Basara as a threat as well, but I didn't see as much from him as I would have liked to tonight. Part of that being he was matched against some of the veterans, but he has some good potential to emerge as a top player for us.

And Colton Parayko, what a difference. you can tell the guy put on 15-20 pounds of muscle just by looking at him. And coaches are telling me that  during preseason strength and conditioning testing, Colton hit a 40" standing vertical jump. Nanooks legendary strength and conditioning coach Mike Curtin is evolving this kid from a hockey player into a physical beast man child. He is going to dominate this season.

On the game front, if you're looking for a recap of the game, check out the News Miner's new sports guy Tim O'Donnell's recap article over at I'm going to try to stick more to analysis tonight and through the season. I know that'll make for some shorter posts, but I want to do more than just recap plays, I want to focus more on the Nanooks' systems and strengths, while analyzing opponents and the matchups.

So with that, not much to analyze here. We'll get a better perspective next weekend versus UBC when the coaches can get guys settled into some steady lines and they start to develop some chemistry with one another. The exhibition next weekend versus UBC at the Carlson Center will be at 5:30, a bit earlier than normal, so mark your calendars.

Also of note, the photo up above was taken by Mike Fisher, a great photographer who volunteers his time and efforts to take photos for the blog and for fans around the country to enjoy. Thanks a lot Mike for the great work. Check out the rest of his Blue/Gold album for some stunning photos.

Tonight's Rosters for each squad

Gold Team

6 Michael Quinn
7 Josh Erickson
9 Marcus Basara
11 Alec Hajdukovich
17 Jared Linnell
18 Trevor Campbell
20 Matt Friese
22 Josh Atkinson
23 Nolan Kaiser
24 Nolan Huysmans

Blue Team

2 Justin Tateson
4 Colton Parayko
5 Richard Coyne
8 Justin Woods
10 J.D. Peterson
12 Garrick Perry
14 Brandon Morley
15 Shawn Hochhausen
16 Joey Davies
25 Nolan Youngmun
27 Tyler Morley
29 Jared Larson

The goaltenders rotated between each team to keep the playing time balanced.