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.

Monday, September 23, 2013

And We're Back!

Well, its about that time. The time when windshields get iced over in the mornings, when autostart sales blow through the roof, and when Fairbanks-area residents start to ramp up preparations for the bleak winter that lies ahead. But in midst of those otherwise unhappy scenes, one thing shines through. It's hockey season baby!

I know I haven't posted much (err…anything...) this summer, but this blogger has been one busy guy. I'm actually writing the start of this post from a flight back to Fairbanks. That's right, I paid the $7 for inflight wifi to make sure you all could take in a good preseason post about your Nanooks. Donations are always accepted ;).

But onto the good stuff.

This upcoming season is going to be about defining Alaska Nanooks hockey. It's a new team as we lost a lot of guys that played a lot of important roles last year, including 3 out of our 4 captains. While we will not be able to replace some of these guys outright, but the holes they left gives opportunities for others to step up and expand their roles.

And with the departure of the seven seniors last season, we welcome in nine new freshmen who will challenge the upper classmen for playing time. It may be a little early to tell, but from highlights I've seen and stories I've read, it sounds like newcomer Marcus Basara could emerge from the start much like Tyler Morley did last season as a routine starter. With the departure of Taranto, the Beck and Kunyk line needs a winger and he could be the guy. He's got great speed and control, and has some size to back it up (6-0, 187). Could fill that spot pretty seamlessly if he's ready.

And with Tyler Morley's transition to center over the course of last season, his brother Brandon  now joins us with some solid seasons at wing with the Coquitlam Express in the BCHL, I wouldn't put it past them to be paired together, probably with Nolan Huysmans on the other side for some additional experience as he's played with Morley a bit this past season.

The only defenseman the Nanooks lost last season was Kaare Odegard to graduation, and the coaching staff is bringing in Justin Woods for the 8th man on the blue line. I've watched Justin play a number of games during his time with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, but I don't think he was ever 6'2" like he's listed now. If his bio page is accurate, and he still has the same speed and aggression he had with the Dogs, this could be very interesting. I can see him pairing with Richard Coyne nicely, assuming the experiment with Coyne at enforcer forward concludes. 

But the Nanooks--in my humble and potentially biased opinion--return what will be the best defensive corps in the league this season. And likely near the tops in the country. While the numbers didn't shake out in their favor last season, somewhat due to some injuries and the development of a freshman goaltender. This season is a whole new ball game. Colton Parayko and Michael Quinn will likely continue as the top defensive pairing, but don't forget about Trevor Campbell. He's probably personal favorite of the crew as an all around player. And he tied both Quinn and Parayko with 17 points. But the guy doesn't just take opportunities either, he can create them for himself. He'll take the puck and drive the entry and the rush and work the lanes to create any opportunities for passing and shooting lanes that he can. Parayko has that same ability, and over the course of last year he has refined that quite a bit to see the ice better and make smarter decisions with the puck. 

Look for Justin Tateson to also emerge as a threat this season as well. He didn't crack the lineup much last season, playing for just 16 games. I know he's had some blunders, but I also know he's worked a lot in the offseason to earn a spot in the lineup. As a junior, I suspect he's playing with a chip on his shoulder, and with a new season he can use the opportunity to prove himself.

Now with the Blue/Gold game upcoming, we'll get a good look at these nine freshman and get a good measure of their skills. Granted, the guys aren't really going full speed and they're not going to lay anybody out for obvious reasons, but at the same time, if one of them gets one past Keeney high glove side, I'm going to take notice.

Remember, for those of you that have renewed your season tickets, they will be available at the Patty Center to pick up during the Blue/Gold game. Otherwise, the Patty Center ticket office will have them after this weekend. Then Saturday, October 5th is the exhibition game against UBC at the Carlson Center before opening the season at the Kendall classic in Anchorage.