Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Split on the Road and a Date with the Chargers

The Nanooks played a great game on the road last Friday, earning a 5-4 OT win against arguably the best team in the country in Minnesota State. The 'Nooks didn't have the strongest offensive showing in the world, but they cashed in their chances when it counted. The first was a play by the top line of Perry-Morley-Basara, and Garrick Perry who has been a man possessed in recent games, really wheels hard on a forced turnover by Basara at the blueline and beats his defender on a wrap around and made the pass to Tyler Morley across the crease. The play happened so fast, the puck was in the net so fast if you blinked, their sticks are already in the air in celebration. Undoubtedly my favorite play on the weekend.

The guys kept after it, and even when MSU took the lead in the 3rd period, the Nanooks didn't falter, kept grinding, and simply got it done. Austin Vieth takes over late and crashes the net and cashes in for the last lead goal and the overtime winner. Both coming off chances generated by Tayler Munson, who has been playing on another level the last few games. Friday alone had 3 points on a goal and a pair of assists for the freshman making now 3 goals and 2 assists for the season.

Saturday's game didn't produce the same results...

The game got rolling with both teams getting a bit more physical, and getting Nolan Kaiser to the box early with a double minor for roughing. Then again for interference as the senior defenseman took the brunt of the calls throughout the game with 4 total on the day. Which were the first 4 penalties tallied against Alaska.

But the Nanooks penalty kill unit took the brunt of the loss, allowing 3 of the 5 goals on 5 shorthanded disadvantages. The special teams units have been solid for the Nanooks all season so far. The power play unit struggled early, but the penalty kill was solid  with over 95% until a few games ago. Now the power play is surging (27% last 6 games), and the penalty kill is struggling. All of this is coachable, but the Nanooks have to be able to clear the zone and not get trapped.

Special teams were the difference Saturday, but the 'Nooks didn't have the offense to keep firing. They chased goaltender Stephon Williams after allowing 2 goals on 8 shots through 2 periods. I was kind of optimistic going into the 3rd when Cole Huggins came in, especially after the success the Nanooks had against him last season (8 goals on 43 shots on goal in 2 games).

Now this weekend sees the Chargers of Alabama-Huntsville come to town. Their 3-11-2 record thus far doesn't make them the strongest team in the league, but with wins over Ferris State, Lake State, and Air Force makes them a team you don't want to sleep on. They did get swept last weekend by Michigan Tech, and they have allowed 14 goals in their last 3 games but as Ferris State found out, they can generate some offense too.

Honestly I don't expect the Nanooks to have much trouble this weekend, but their starting goaltender, despite a 3-6-1 record, has great numbers with a .931 save percentage and a 2.43 goals against average which bests any of the Nanooks goaltenders' stats. If Guerrero gets hot, he will be UAH's X-factor this weekend and can give them a chance to upset the Nanooks this weekend if the boys in Blue and Gold don't show up to play.

The series this weekend is the last of 2014. After this, the Nanooks don't play again until New Years' weekend when the Ferris State Bulldogs come to town. Saturday has a few festivities going as well, including my personal favorite: The Teddy Bear Toss. For the last 4 years, the the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee made up of Alaska Nanooks athletes have organized the event to benefit families in need and give kids something to look forward to this Christmas.

And make sure your kiddos pack their skates for Saturday, as its skate with the 'Nooks following the game. Expect to see the guys in their Santa hats and signing autographs for the kids. The Face-Off club will also provide cookies and other light refreshments as well.

See you all at the rink this weekend.

Go 'Nooks!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gut Check Weekend For the Nanooks in Mankato

It's no doubt that the Nanooks, at 7-7-0, have had their struggles. They looked unbeatable Friday against a strong Northern Michigan team, then left a lot on the table Saturday. Almost identical to the Lake Superior State series on the road the week before. Drop the hammer Friday, then falter on Saturday.

This Nanooks team is much better than they are performing. There is effort in reserve somewhere. And if there is anytime to see a 100% weekend series effort, its this one. Well, its every weekend, but under the circumstances...

The Nanooks hit the road to Mankato, Minnesota to take on who a lot of folks consider the #1 team in the country, in their barn. For emphasis, their only loss at home came to UMD back in mid-October. And they only have 3 losses on the season in total. They've won six in a row and nine of the last ten. The defending WCHA champions have 7 players with 11+ points, and a goaltender from Fairbanks, who is tops in the country in winning percentage among goaltenders (11-1-0, .917).

They're no joke.

For the Nanooks offensively, they've shown that they can score goals. Especially lately. But they need to come together and play some defense. Goaltending has shown some promise, but they have been left out to dry in some cases. But every goaltender plays a bit differently, and the defensemen need to play off of whoever that guy is and make sure that he can read the play. But there hasn't been any consistency in net at all this season, every guy has taken reps thus far. Hard to say for me who's one, two, or three but the team defensively is going to struggle until they can gel with the playing style of whoever is between the pipes.

On another note, Nolan Youngmun has made the trip with the team and is expected to play. This will be his first action since being injured in practice prior to the Bemidji State series. Nolan is a force to be reckoned with on the ice and having his presence should be a big boost for the team.

Both games this weekend will be on Fox 7 in Fairbanks tape delayed. 8:30PM Friday, 7:30PM Saturday.

Go 'Nooks!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Nanooks' Lack of Discipline and Special Teams Sink Chances for a Sweep

NMU scored 4 power play goals on 7 chances, 2 of them majors and the Wildcats skate to a 4-1 final.

Ugly loss, it really is. I could give a laundry list of opinions about why tonight went like it did but in the end, the Nanooks did not get their heads into the game like they did last night. NMU got them off their game and it stayed that way and the Wildcats made them pay. That simple really.

Brandon Morley got tossed early in the second for a check from behind against Reed Seckel. It looked to me initially like they both lost their footing and fell forward into the boards, but Brandon did initiate that contact. Then tack on another major as Alec Hajdukovich leveled Reed Seckel (pretty sure that's not coincidence. He's pretty chirpy.) who started to lose his footing as he got rid of the puck. Unfortunate timing, but officials called it interference, which is essentially code for an unnecessarily rough late or early hit per the emphasis established for this year.

Nanooks got nabbed for a bunch of ticky tacky minor calls throughout the game too, that honestly shouldn't have been called. The officials let most everything go yesterday until Walt Kyle flies off the handle. Then today, the tune changes and it's slighted. Right after Duke's major went up late in the 2nd, Garrick Perry made an awesome center ice play to take the puck into NMU's zone to kill some time off the clock until an NMU player holds and rips the stick out of his hands. Right in front of Keith Sergott, one of tonight's officials who just let it go.

But either way you look at it, the Nanooks didn't play well enough to take the officiating out of the game and when your special teams unit allows 4 power play goals against, that's a hole that any team is going to have trouble digging out. 

Next week the Nanooks are on the road to take on a highly ranked Minnesota State team with a familiar face between the pipes in Lathrop grad Stephon Williams. Will be a tough test for sure. 

Got a long travel day ahead to get back to Fairbanks myself. But until next week, Go 'Nooks!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Davis Jones and the Nanooks Blank the NMU Wildcats

Great effort tonight by the Nanooks tonight early in the game. The first period didn't have a lot of flow to it, but the 'Nooks took advantage of the chances they had and mustered 11 shots on goal in the first stanza to NMU's 4. Not a lot of flow at all as both teams stifled the rush and neutral zone quite well. Most of the scoring chances came from the boards or the point. NMU tried to get some offense going from behind the net to no avail, and the Nanooks had some trouble connecting passes early on.

Into the second, things started to get going in the Nanooks favor. Garrick Perry made a great play to keep the puck moving on his stick and found Kyle Froese creeping down from the point into the slot with some traffic in front of Dahlstrom, the NMU netminder. Dahlstrom came way out front of his crease to make the save, but the rebound came right to Tyler Morley who didn't get picked up by the defense and buried it into an open net.  

Peter Krieger almost took it home right off the faceoff draw after the goal. Would have been a bang bang play as he caught Mitch Jones sleeping off and just went right around him but Dahlstrom made the save. 

Tyler Morley would be at the center of the play for the rest of the 2nd period as well as the junior alternate captain caught a feed on the power play from the point courtesy of Trevor Campbell just to the goaltender's left side. After drawing the defenseman towards him, a hole opened through the crease and Tyler got the puck through it to Marcus Basara on the backdoor to bury his 7th goal in the last 6 games. 

Up 2-0 with just over 5 minutes left to play in the 2nd period, the offense kept rolling for the 'Nooks as they held the Wildcats without a shot on goal in the final 10 minutes of the period. Their best chance came at 12:29 as Luke Eibler rang the iron for arguably the Wildcats' best scoring chance of the night.

Colton Parayko capped off the evening with a beautiful slapper from above the slot, ripping a feed from Tyler Morley earning his 3rd point of the night. After the puck went in, Tyler found himself upending the goaltender Dahlstrom with 9 seconds left of the period to start NMU on the power play to begin the 3rd. I wasn't too sure on that call. I thought Tyler was pushed, and it didn't look like anything was intentional but the camera angle didn't do much to sway me either way.

That said, the play ended Dahlstrom's night, as NMU head coach Walt Kyle put in Michael Doan for his first action of the season. In fact, they were the first minutes logged between the pipes by an NMU goaltender not named Mathias this season. Oddly enough though, Matthias Dahlstrom has had stellar statistics thus far, .954 save percentage, 0.99 goals against average coming into tonight. He has given up seven goals in the past two games, despite allowing just SIX goals in the previous NINE games. On tilt? Perhaps just tired. 

On another interesting note, the Nanooks were 2/2 on the power play tonight, doubling the power play goals surrendered total by the #1 penalty killing team in the nation. And continuing a hot power play run, converting four goals of their last eight advantages. These trends have catapulted the Nanooks to a 54.1% (53/98) combined special teams (anything north of 50% is good) for 15th best in the country. Prior to WCHA play, the Nanooks were 42nd at 47.8%.

Tonight's shutout by Davis Jones extends his season and career mark to two, and more importantly his record to 4-2-0 on the year. I imagine he'll be starting tomorrow as well. He wasn't stressfully tested tonight, but he stopped all 18 shots and did so confidently. He kept himself in good position and made every play that he needed to. 

Also a shoutout to Nanook equipment manager for designing up some new alternate jerseys this season. The new gold jerseys look pretty sharp. Sad I didn't get to see their unveiling in person, but they're a nice cut, with clean lines. Blue numbers on gold, with white nameplates on blue.

Moments of Brilliance and Frustration in the Soo as the 'Nooks Return Home for NMU

The 'Nooks had the weekend sweep of the Lakers in their grasp. And last Saturday night, it just slipped away... Friday night was quite the different story as the 'Nooks charged ahead with their best scoring performance of the year. The 'Nooks had Kevin Aldridge's number all night sniping shots all night high blocker. Up 6-2 early in the third, the game ended up 7-5, a bit closer than it should have been. Those 3 goals allowed to Lake State in the waning minutes of the third gave some momentum going forward, and it gave a bit too much hope for the Lakers going into Saturday's game.

NMU comes into Fairbanks after splitting with Anchorage and spending some time meandering The Last Frontier. NMU has been historically a tough opponent for the 'Nooks. I don't know what it is, but Walt Kyle always seem to have our guys' number. And this season, they've been statistically better than years past, currently at 7-2-1 through their first 10 games compared to 4-5-1 through the first 10 games last season. But, the Wildcats' have benefitted from an easier schedule thus far.

An early series against Wisconsin (just after the 'Nooks played them) with a neutral site sweep. Lake Superior State, Alabama-Huntsville, and a formerly slumping Ferris State squad at home before the split against an equally slumping UAA team.

I was hoping last weekend was the series to turn the slump around for the Nanooks. It seemed like it started off that way, but maybe this series will be a bit different. Matthias Dahlstrom has been the only guy between the pipes all season for NMU and averaging just under one goal allowed per game, and has a nation-leading 4 shutouts to his credit. The 'Nooks will certainly be challenged offensively, but I don't believe the Nanooks will get swept. I'm expecting a split in either of two closely matched games. They're always played quite closely, even last year's 4 game series was split evenly 2-2, and all 4 games were decided by one goal.

My apologies again for the lack of posts. I'm traveling visiting family for Thanksgiving, and will be the first series in Fairbanks I've missed since 2011. The Ice Dogs' announcer Raleigh will fill in for my announcing duties this weekend.

Here's to hoping I can watch the games at least!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Nanooks Look to Turn Things Around in The Soo

Riding a 5 game losing streak after a 5 game winning streak, the 'Nooks look to get things turned around (maybe another 5+ game win streak, eh guys? C'mon! A guy can hope right?!) after a weekend off and an early departure to Sault Ste. Marie.

It's hard to really explain the cause of the down swing. Really, all but one game were one goal games. And the main differences in close games as any coach will tell you comes down to special teams and goaltending. The power play has been up for the 'Nooks, about 18% in the past 4 games. But the penalty kill is starting to swing downward at 74%. Goaltending hasn't changed much, but one could argue that neither Davis Jones, nor Sean Cahill have taken their games to the next level. Also John Keeney has been a silent man thus far this season. I thought he would be sharing time with either Cahill or Jones, but I didn't figure that he would be riding the pine pony thus far. Keeney played the last two periods of the second game against Bowling Green and honestly looked good despite allowing the one goal early. He seems a bit more calm in net than the other two, perhaps the pressure is setting in. Again, hard to say. But honestly, the defense hasn't helped their goaltenders out much.

Hopefully, things will come together this weekend. Honestly the Lake State Lakers are in a bit of a down year. The 'Nooks left Monday night on the red eye to make the trek up there. They've had a bit extra time and I'm hoping that the weekend off has helped them relax a bit.

I've got my eye on a few players to step up this weekend. From the forward lines, Jared Larson and Peter Krieger have been pretty quiet since the season started. Krieger made some noise early, but since Tyler Morley came back in the lineup, he has scored just one point. Jared Larson has been in and out of the lineup, but in six games played so far, he's -4 and no points. He's a good player, but isn't playing to his potential.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tonight's 3-2 Loss Better Than Last Night's 3-2 Loss

Lots of things in this world are about perception, and how appetizing you can make things sound despite the end result. That is, in this case, the idiom that tonight's 3-2 loss, is better than last night's identical result. Why? Well, let's talk about that.

The Nanooks have had interesting storylines to follow in goal. The first 5 games of the season, both Jones and Cahill have played well enough to get the job done. Not amazingly spectacular--save for Jones' shutout of Wisconsin, and Cahill's bagel in Kalamazoo--but both guys were put between the pipes on the right nights to get the win. Since blanking the Broncos in Lawson, the Nanooks have not won a game with either of them. Cahill was a bit suspect last night, and didn't crack the lineup tonight. With Jones getting the start tonight, the defense needed his help a bit early and it wasn't there. Two pretty soft goals he allowed on 5 shots got his plug pulled after the first period. So in comes John Keeney for the first game action between the pipes the junior goaltender has seen this season.

It didn't take long for him to see his first action either. And while the Falcons were able to get one past him to go up 3-0, it could have been much much worse. John Keeney played very well in relief of Jones and it seemed to have sparked the team quite a bit as they got a lot more jump in their step in the 2nd. The team got a pretty decent start to the game overall, except for the one defensive lapse that led to a goal. But the second period took it up a few more notches.

And the tempo paid off with two quick scores for the 'Nooks to close the gap to 3-2 off another monster play by Marcus Basara down low, and a quick give and go for Austin Vieth with Tyler Morley. Those would come just 42 seconds apart midway through the 2nd frame.

The 3rd period is where things get a bit interesting. With about seven minutes left in the game, Trevor Campbell throws a puck high towards the net and Garrick Perry gets a stick on it in front of the crease and deflects it in. From my vantage point, it looked like contact was made with the puck at just above the height of the elbow--about eight inches below the crossbar. The officials waved it off as a high-stick.  The same officials that called six penalties in a ten minute span in the first period, then not calling a single penalty again for the rest of the game. Despite watching Parayko and Basara getting bullied for their milk money time and time again, no call. Perry was tripped up on a clear scoring chance six feet out from the net, no call either. Very rough.

That said, the game was much better tonight than last night for the 'Nooks despite the identical results. If you take away the two saveable goals Jones allowed tonight, and correctly call the Perry deflection, the 'Nooks take this one 3-1. Sad that it counts as a 3-2 loss (on John Keeney's record too, sadly) and the losing streak extends to five games. But the Nanooks' have a week off before setting off on their longest road journey of the season to the banks of Lake Superior, and their state University on the northern border of Michigan.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Rough 3rd Period for Alaska, Falls to BGSU 3-2 at Home

First period got a good start for the Nanooks, but a few turnovers really change the tide of the game. The Falcons capitalized on the first one in the Nanooks own zone down low caught the defense out of position, and Mark Cooper was able to get it past the short side of Cahill. 

But the Nanooks can do that too, as Brandon Morley swiped a failed clearing attempt out of the air and made a defenseman miss and forced a 2 on 1, and made a great back door pass to Peter Krieger to knot it up at 1. 

But another costly turnover on the break out by the 'Nooks sent them to the locker room down 2-1. 

Marcus Basara gets the tying goal in the second period on really a nice individual effort wheeling up to the blue line then sneaking down the slot and waited out the goaltender and tucked it in around his pad. Pretty goal. 

But it wouldn't be enough as the Nanooks would come out pretty flat in the 3rd and couldn't really step into that groove with each other to get things going. And it cost them. Bowling Green got the game winner with 7 minutes left and had plenty of other chances to when that lead. Cahill did his part and stopped what he could but defensively the Nanooks needed some help tonight. 

Tough break too with the parents weekend festivities going on. A lot of parents here and I know the guys wanted to get this win. But hey, get some rest brush it off and come back tomorrow ready to work. New day and a new game. Time to come win. 

Sanctions, Parent's Weekend, and Bowling Green

Well I had a piece started about the Bowling Green series until this whole NCAA sanctions thing came down on us and totally screwed everything up. I don't understand what it is about that horrid organization and imposing sanctions on schools just to make an example out of them. There are too many cases of larger schools with far worse infractions getting far fewer penalties over the course of decades than Alaska got with these sanctions. By now I'm sure you've all seen the news that the NCAA has already imposed sanctions including a postseason ban on infractions that the university has already self-reported and disciplined themselves. Furthermore it was determined that victories with ineligible players participation from 2007 thru 2012 will be vacated. This includes two Governors cup championships as well as the team's only NCAA tournament appearance in 2010.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

No Updates This Week

Very sorry to everyone for no updates this week. There was a family emergency and I have been in Utah for a few days to tide things over. Unfortunately I do not have the time to put together a proper preview for the first WCHA series of the year coming up against Bemidji State. I will plan to get caught up on things when I get back to Fairbanks next week and get rolling again for Bowling Green. 

Go 'Nooks! I could use some good news this weekend...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sean Cahill Blanks the Broncos, Nolan Kaiser With the Winner

What a game for Sean Cahill. The senior goaltender made 34 saves to preserve the bagel coming up big throughout the game. Especially in the 3rd period, the 'Nooks had a HUGE penalty to kill towards the end of the game that Western Michigan started just pumping shots on goal left and right. By my count, they had 7. But I was watching the feed on my phone so my count may be off. Regardless, he stood on his head when he had to and kept the Nanooks in the game.

It's late Saturday morning here in Fairbanks as I'm finally able to watch the game for the first time. I usually am able to watch, or at least listen to Friday's games however I was trapped in meetings all day on Friday and couldn't tune in.

But I caught the 3rd period and the play of the game with Nolan Kaiser taking the swing pass from Parayko across the point then letting it go with a booming shot pinching in from the point down towards the slot buries the puck under Hafner's pad. The goal would stand as the game winner, despite Western Michigan's attempts to prove otherwise.

The second game is just a few hours away at this point. The Nanooks will have a pissed off Broncos team to contend with who have now lost 3 straight coming into tonight. Hard to imagine anyone but Sean Cahill playing in goal for the 'Nooks. The question remains if any changes are made to the offensive lineup. Make sure to follow me on Twitter for some (better today) live game updates, including some pregame chatter.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Nanooks Hit the Road, First Stop Kalamazoo

The Nooks head to Kalamazoo to take on the Broncos. I'm a bit late getting this up, considering that it is Friday about 2 hours before puck drop. 

But the 'Nooks are looking good. Broncos, not so much. At 1-3, they're coming off a 2 game sweep at the hands of the UNO Mavericks. This will be the first real road test for Alaska, but they've had good success at Lawson over the years. We did play the Broncos to a 3-3 tie at the Carlson Center last year. And Frank Slubowski is still there. Lukas Hafner has split time thus far in goal as well, so it remains to be seen who starts for them tonight. Frank was the clear starter for quite a while, but I suppose things have changed. Defensively, things have been interesting for them. Danny DeKeyser left a couple years ago but Kenney Morrison still rules the blue line. Chase Balisy and Shane Berschbach were lost to graduation, so there is a large chunk of scoring gone too. Justin Kovacs is still there, but hasn't scored a goal just yet. Sam Mellor, another UAA defector, is also on the roster. 

Through 4 games, WMU has 8 goals scored with 10 against. Not a typical showing for an Andy Murray team, so that leaves me a bit to wonder if Dave Shyiak gets to take some of that credit. The former UAA head coach and infamous bottle thrower now has the Associate Head Coach title behind the Broncos' bench. Interesting...

Should be a good series. I wish I had more time to put this together, but alas... 

Go 'Nooks!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Austin Vieth Gets the Game Tying Goal, Then the Winner 27 Seconds Later Over Penn State

Penn State won the first 50 minutes of this game. They had the Nanooks dead to rights early in the 3rd, and I thought they were the better team up until that point. I just felt like they wanted it more. But the 'Nooks kicked the tires and lit the fires late in the game and Austin Vieth took over. 2 goals just 27 seconds apart for the Nanooks freshman catapulted him from an honorable mention, to the all-tournament MVP in the same amount of time. 3 points tonight, and 4 on the weekend (3-1-4) should make some noise nationally.

Adversity and Character seemed to be the theme from the coaches in both press conferences. Both games the 'Nooks were trailing in the 3rd period, and both nights they found a way to win. That's the mark of a good team. But a better team doesn't put themselves in that situation. Not how a coach draws it up, but they pulled it out and got 'er done.

Not the homecoming Gadowsky was hoping for I'm sure. His Nittany Lions had both Alaska teams down early but couldn't close them out. Seems like it might be a conditioning issue, as both of the Alaska teams play a very fast paced game. But Guy will get this ship on course for them very soon.

A lot of players had a great weekend that stood out to me. The guys that made the all-tournament team, obviously. But Nolan Kaiser, especially. He has really emerged as a stand-up defensemen early this season. I had him on my all-tournament ballot... Shawn Hochhausen and Nolan Youngmun both did some serious grinding work tonight. Garrick Perry is a beast to contend with on special teams. Trevor Campbell put himself among the best defensive defenseman in the country in my opinion this weekend. I haven't seen everyone of them, but I'd put him up against anyone at this point. I had him at 5 blocked shots tonight. 3 were hard and heavy and he got right back up and engaged back in the fight. And once Colton Sparrow figures out that he doesn't have that extra half-second of time that he thinks he does, he will be yet another force to be reckoned with.

The 'Nooks head out on the road for two straight weeks. First to Western Michigan, then on to Bemidji State to open up WCHA play. Western has had a tough couple of games, but they're still a good team. Frank Slubowski is still one of the best goaltenders in the country. Should be a good series down in K'Zoo. Bemidji was off this weekend, but they've got a big non-conference series with the Gophers next weekend.

Until the preview, Go 'Nooks!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Nanooks Defeat Air Force in a 4-3 Thriller

Bad start for the Nanooks tonight. Defensively fell flat early on and Air Force made them pay. 2 goals within a 34 second span in under 3 minutes put Alaska in a tough spot. Everyone in the rink was as shocked as I was. I had just finished paperwork on that first one when I looked up and saw Demers wide open on the backdoor with the lane open. Couldn't draw it up any better than that. But that's a defensive break down I have not seen from the 'Nooks in a long time. 

But the boys got it going and set a good foundation to go to work in the second period. And it paid off. Although Air Force would tack on another to extend the lead, but it was all Alaska the end. And Tyler Morley in his first action on ice this season bagged a big one in the waning minutes of the 2nd to set the stage. 

And they pulled it off. A big power play goal from Parayko set up by Kaiser, and a 3 on 1 play for Krieger that turned into gold as he finished by collecting the puck from a shot by Youngman that was covered by a Falcon defenseman. Krieger roofed the shot top shelf next to the thin mints for the game winner. 

Not how you want to draw up a win, and I'm glad my heart was healthy enough to make it through that one. Big one tomorrow for the boys against a Penn State team that in reality should have beaten Anchorage. I'm still trying to figure out which orifice the Seawolves pulled that win out from... 

Lines for Alaska vs. Air Force

The Nanooks take the ice for the first time this regular season on home ice as the Brice Alaska Goal Rush sets in with Air Force and Penn State coming to town. 

First up tonight with a late start is Air Force. Without further ado, here are the 'Nooks lines. 

F1 Garrick Perry - Tyler Morley - Nolan Huysmans
F2 Cotton Sparrow - Peter Krieger - Marcus Basara 
F3 Brandon Morley - Taylor Munson - Austin Vieth
F4 Nolan Youngman - Shawn Hochhausen - Alec Hajdukovich

D1 Kyle Froese - Colton Parayko
D2 Zach Frye - Trevor Campbell
D3 Josh Atkinson - Nolan Kaiser

G1 Davis Jones
G2 Sean Cahill

GAME DAY - Alaska Hosts Air Force as Goal Rush Kicks Off

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks (2-0-0, WCHA 0-0-0) vs USAFA Falcons (1-1-0, AHA 1-1-0)
8:07PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks AK

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($12): WCHA TV

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Hockey season continues at home. What a week it has been, and I am ecstatic that game day is finally here. The boys are ready to go, Tyler Morley will play this evening, and it's going to be a blast! I love hearing from Frank Serratore. The Air Force head coach is always a riot, and today's luncheon was no exception. He calls it like it is, and adds some comedic gold along the way. Pretty sure I'll have to continue referring to Penn State as "the expansion team" from now on...

Should be a good one tonight. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter tonight for some updates from the arena. And check back here a couple of hours before game time and I will get lines for the 'Nooks posted tonight.

Go 'Nooks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nanooks Welcome Penn State, Air Force, and UAA for Brice Alaska Goal Rush

Colton Parayko and Josh Atkinson raked in All-Tournament honors while Davis Jones collected the tournament's Most Valuable Player en route to the Nanooks claiming the Kendall Hockey Classic title. Can the Nanooks make it two tourney titles in a row? The Air Force Falcons and the Penn State Nittany Lions stand in the way.

But a lot of folks have told me that they don't think either of our guests will be much of a test. I don't tend to agree with them as both teams are very well coached. Neither one may have a ton of offensive horsepower, but Frank Serratore and Guy Gadowsky will have their teams ready to play. Both of them are coming off of splits of sorts. Air Force split an early conference series with Mercyhurst, while Penn State defeated and tied UConn in their first month as a member of Hockey East.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Nanooks Topple Maine 5-2 as Coach Ferguson Earns 100th Win

What a weekend for the Nanooks coming into Anchorage with two strong opponents in Wisconsin and Maine, and head coach Dallas Ferguson getting his 100th career win at the helm of the Nanooks program. Big night for him, glad to see him get to 100 in style.

Tonight the Nanooks started off fast, but couldn't get much flow as they were feeling them out. Same kind of thing as last night, but the 'Nooks picked it up and generated some chances. But Maine did make it interesting with the first goal, a 3 on 2 rush up the middle. Jones came out to the top of his crease to make the initial save as the defenders took away the passes. Jones had it in his chest but couldn't hang on as Blaine Byron got a stick on the rebound and beat Jones to the post. Parayko and Froese collapsed down to the crease but couldn't get it frozen.

But that didn't change the team's focus. The Nanooks came right back with a goal of their own just over a minute later, and wouldn't you have guessed it, it was Peter Krieger. Just as I noted in the preview. Krieger had a nice rush up the middle that was stifled by the defense, but the puck made its way behind the net then setup nicely by Perry behind the net back to Krieger who was all alone in the slot and buried it high glove side. Just a beauty.

And just a minute and eight seconds after that, Josh Atkinson took a shot from the left faceoff circle that had eyes. I think it was deflected in front by Erickson, but the goal is currently credited to Atkinson. Good shot and buried high blocker side.

The 2nd period was full of action, but not a lot of scoring. Maine had some quality chances with sustained pressure, but the Nanooks defense held. Davis Jones a big part of that, especially on the penalty kills. But the 3rd period would get a little wild.

Colton Sparrow opened the scoring at 1:39 into the 3rd after Garrick Perry forced a turnover at the Maine blue line and went 2 on 1 with Sparrow flanking left. Perry put the puck on net, and got a solid rebound to Sparrow on the backdoor who tucked it in for the 3-1 lead. But just about a minute later, Hajdukovich forced his way past the Nanooks blue line to get the puck out and found himself 1 on 1 with a Maine defender. Atkinson trailed on the play and played the give and go to Hajdukovich crashing the net for the 4-1 lead.

It wasn't over yet though, Maine's Devin Shore would make things interesting with a good bounce from Davis Jones' left side. The puck took a strange turn and made inside Jones' right pad as he hugged the left post, and it had just enough on it to trickle in to make things interesting at 4-2 with about 3 minutes to play.

Maine would pull Romeo with 2:37 to play for a 6 on 5 advantage. The Black Bears mightly tried and knocked on the door many times, but the Nanooks defense kept slamming it shut and getting the puck back to the outside. Had some troubles clearing it, and some guys were clearly starting to run out of gas. But Brandon Morley made a nice read at the line as Sparrow came crashing up to get the puck past the defenseman. Morley brought in the bouncing puck and took a shot from the center red line as the defense came crashing down on him. The puck went 100 feet and just inside the post to close out the scoring.

Maine kept trying. Down by 3 with 45 seconds to play, they kept their goaltender on the bench, and had Marcus Basara not lost his stick, it would have been a 6-2 final as he tried to fend off Ben Hutton to let the puck trickle in after Garrick Perry cleared it out.

Great way to start the season 2-0 for the 'Nooks. Seawolves game against the Badgers is just getting started. With the Nanooks gaining a +4 goal differential, that forces the Seawolves to win by 3 goals over Wisconsin, or by 2 and a shutout. Should be interesting. I have my ballot in hand for the all-tournament team. Already have a couple of names to write down... Expect a follow up with all-tournament considerations.

GAME DAY - Kendall Classic Game 3, Nanooks vs Maine Black Bears

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks (1-0-0) vs Maine Black Bears (0-1-0)
4:07PM AKST - Sullivan Arena, Anchorage, AK

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($12): WCHA TV

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Big night last night for the 'Nooks shutting out Wisconsin. Not a lot of offensive results, despite a lot of chances and production opportunities. Credit Wisconsin's defense, and Landon Peterson stood on his head at times despite giving up some chances. The game should have ended 2-0, as the official waved off a clear goal from Basara. But his vantage point didn't see that Peterson lost control of the puck and dropped it right in the crease.

Nonetheless, a win is a win. The Seawolves took care of the Black Bears last night as well in a 3-1 win. I stuck around for the first two periods and saw the penalty-ridden game go up to a 2-1 Seawolves advantage. I thought Maine looked a lot faster than Anchorage, but the 'Wolves countered that with efficient puck movement and got Maine a little bit off their game. Timing just didn't seem like it was there for the Black Bears.

The Nanooks have another challenge in front of them as the Black Bears don't want to trek back across the country empty handed. Maine's Matt Morris got the call last night between the pipes, making 26 saves on 29 shots. Looking at Maine's line chart, it appears that rookie Sean Romeo is getting the start tonight. Romeo, a 6' 1" tendy, played last season for the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms going 8-21-1 with a 3.42 GAA and a .891 save percentage. Peter Krieger knows this guy a bit too, in one game against Youngstown back in January, Krieger and the Waterloo Black Hawks put up 4 goals on him, with Krieger's name attached to 3 of them. One as the scorer, and two assists. Krieger also registered a team high 6 shots in that game. Should be a fun story to watch, and see if Petey nabs one.

A few lineup changes for the 'Nooks tonight. A few 'Nooks missed out in last nights game due to illness as it turns out. Josh Erickson, Alec Hajdukovich, and J.D. Peterson jump back in. I thought Hajdukovich looked really good against WOU in the exhibition last week. Erickson of course has always had that motor that never quits, just like Nolan Youngmun. And you guessed it, they're paired together.

I thought the 4th line guys last night played outstanding for the times they had on the ice and really made the difference in my mind. The more quality minutes those guys can get, takes that much more time off the shoulders of the top guys to get some more rest. Should be intriguing.

Without further ado, the Nanooks' lines tonight.

F1 Garrick Perry (A) - Peter Krieger - Marcus Basara
F2 Brandon Morley - Colton Sparrow - Nolan Huysmans
F3 Jared Larson - Shawn Hochhausen - Austin Vieth
F4 Nolan Youngmun - Josh Erickson - Alec Hajdukovich

D1 Kyle Froese - Colton Parayko (C)
D2 J.D. Peterson - Trevor Campbell
D3 Josh Atkinson - Nolan Kaiser

G1 Davis Jones
G2 Sean Cahill

Friday, October 10, 2014

Highlight of Colton Parayko's Game Winning Goal versus Wisconsin

Badgers Blanked by Alaska in Season Opener

This is the first time the Badgers have ever been shutout on their season opening night in the Mike Eaves era. Moreover it's the first shutout the Badgers have faced in their season opener since 1936. Davis Jones might just be a curse word in the Badger locker room for a while...

To start the game, Wisconsin started off controlling play for the first two minutes. But Alaska got their legs pretty quickly though and realized that they were faster on the bigger ice and started taking it to the Badgers with some sustained pressure. The only thing Wisconsin had an edge on was faceoff draws. Even through the 2nd period, the Nanooks just looked like they were in control. Outskating and outworking the Badgers all over the ice.

The offense for the 'Nooks struggled to break through though. Even though Wisconsin at a disadvantaged, they stayed disciplined around the net and in their own zone. Created some troubles for the 'Nooks to get good scoring angles. Then Colton Parayko just took over. On the power play, Ray took a shot inside of the blue line but his stick just disintegrated in his hands. 

After getting a fresh twig, Basara found Parayko creeping down from the right defensive post just below the top of the faceoff circle and ripped a one timer over the blocker of Wisconsin's senior goaltender Landon Peterson for the game winner. 

The third period was a bit more well contested late. The Nanooks opened the first 12 minutes without allowing a single shot, but the Badgers got some pressure in crunch time. But the Nanooks defense held strong. And Davis Jones was up to the task when he had to be. Badgers got some quality chances, including a rebound off a shot from the point that came off Jones' pad and landed right on the stick of Adam Rockwood. Jones hopped over and got the shot with his blocker on, in my opinion, the highlight of the game.

The story remains the same for the 'Nooks tomorrow as they get set to face the Main Black Bears. But tonight, the Nanooks shutout the #10 team in the country, and a goal from the Nanooks' captain Colton Parayko made the difference.

GAME DAY -- Kendall Hockey Classic Game 1 VS Wisconsin

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks (0-0-0) vs Wisconsin Badgers (0-0-0)
7:07PM AKST - Sullivan Arena, Anchorage, AK

Live | Live AudioKCBF 820 Sports | 820 AM Fairbanks

Live Internet Video ($12): WCHA TV

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Not much else from the preview that hasn't been said just yet. The blog has made it down safe and sound on the Nanooks Alaska Airlines Q400. Will be in for all 4 games as we get set to go.

Davis Jones in net tonight for the 'Nooks, Tyler Morley is also absent from the lineup. Here are the lines for Alaska tonight.

F1 Garrick Perry (A) - Peter Krieger - Marcus Basara
F2 Brandon Morley - Colton Sparrow - Nolan Huysmans
F3 Jared Larson - Taylor Munson - Austin Vieth
F4 Nolan Youngmun - Jared Linnell - Shawn Hochhausen

D1 Kyle Froese - Colton Parayko (C)
D2 Josh Atkinson - Nolan Kaiser
D3 Zach Frye - Trevor Campbell

G1 Davis Jones
G2 Sean Cahill

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Kendall Hockey Classic - Back For More...

The beginning of the season is a beautiful thing to behold. It's Wednesday as I write this, the first day of the NHL season as I flip back and forth between Calgary/Vancouver and San Jose/Los Angeles it's just finally setting in.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Moving Towards Friday's Exhibition & New Carlson Center Banners

What a great turnout for Saturday's Blue/Gold game. I was actually impressed at how many people packed the Patty Center to see the 2014 incarnation of the Nanooks. The defense was the story of the night, you could tell very quickly that the goaltending was vastly improved. Cahill/Jones/Keeney are going to be pushing each other very hard for that starting spot and they're all very much qualified.

We also got a great look at some extended playing time from our incoming freshman, and we've got some studs. The jury was out on Peter Krieger, I said in my preview that expectations were pretty high and he didn't disappoint. His game tying goal from the top of the left face off circle for the gold team was a beauty. JD Peterson started the play, pinching behind the net as Krieger rotated up to fill the point. Parayko came on the ice fresh from the bench and called for the puck at the top of the right face off circle, and John Keeney had to sell out to stop that one with his right pad. The puck rebounded to the slot before eventually getting poked by Blue team's Jared Larson who tried to clear, but went right to Krieger's stick who buried it blocker side.

Austin Vieth is also a hell of a grinder. He is going to be a perennial penalty killer here, he's got speed and tenacity to boot which has been a missing cog in the wheel for a few years. Kyle Froese and Zach Frye are strong defenseman, with Frye being a bit more offensive. I wouldn't be surprised to see him paired with Parayko or Atkinson on the power play to generate some offense. Froese has great play awareness too. I saw him shut down a potential 2 on 1 on Saturday with Huysmans and Larson. Had that gone the other way though, its' a 2 on 0.

Hajdukovich played with some spunk too, getting nabbed for what most would consider a bad slashing call. But it got him going enough that he drove the net with Huysmans also on the doorstep and cashed in a rebound for Blue team's only goal of the evening.

The play of the night though was Parayko's goal with 18 seconds left to play that was waved off emphatically by the official with Garrick Perry screening Davis Jones. Official called goaltender interference and brought the faceoff outside which doomed the scrimmage to a tie. Ray would have the last laugh though in the shootout with a slick backhand bardown for the win.

New Carlson Center Banners Highlight All-American & NHL Nanook Alumni
The Carlson Center is getting some additional graphics to brighten up the north end wall this season. The banners highlight the 7 All-Amercans and 11 NHL players that once donned the Nanook sweater. Each All-American banner includes the year that player was awarded, and each NHL banner includes each team that player has played for since their departure from the program to date. The Alumni are committed to keeping these up to date every year, so as players move around the NHL, or more All-Americans are named, banners will be changed or added as needed. This effort is the result of a lot of planning and fundraising by the Nanook Hockey Alumni to recognize notable players throughout the program's history, and to improve the environment of the Carlson Center as the premier college hockey venue in the state.

The fans will get to see these in person on Friday evening as the Western Ontario Mustangs fill in to the Carlson Center for the season opening exhibition game. The Mustangs were here back in 2006 when the Nanooks won by a narrow 2-1 margin the night before ACC fell 3-1 the following evening.

The CIS schools are always tricky, because a lot of their players play with a chip on their shoulder, like they have something to prove. And if our guys overlook them, it may not end well. Western Ontario comes in as the pre-season 10th-ranked team among CIS schools. They were 24-10 through last season, and lost 5-2 and 4-1 to Western Michigan and Michigan State, respectively.

All that aside, I'm excited to get this season of hockey going. It's October. Snow is starting to fall. And its time to lace 'em up. Great schedule ahead with strong opponents, Wisconsin, Maine, Air Force, Penn State, and a double header in Kalamazoo against Western Michigan makes for a great month for Nanook Hockey.

Go 'Nooks!

Friday, September 26, 2014

It's That Time Again

The time when the trees begin to change colors, the time in the morning to start your car to defrost the windshield, the time when students bustle around campus to get from class to class. Yes, it's fall. Perhaps more universally accepted as hockey season.

Beginning with this past Saturday's Alaska Hockey Fan Fest, the season is underway. The Patty Gym was full of all kinds of fun activities and kids of all ages came out to meet the team, and get pumped up for the season. A few even got picked during the skate with the 'Nooks afterwards to suit up for a shootout contest against the Nanook goalies. All kinds of fun. If you made it out, the photo gallery has been put up with all of the photos from the event. It was a blast!

As for the team.. with three departing seniors, two early departures, and one temporary absence has made room for these six freshman to round out a very balanced roster. We have seven seniors, eight juniors, seven sophomores, and seven freshmen. Of the 29 players, junior Colton Parayko was named team captain for 2014, while seniors Garrick Perry and Tyler Morley will serve as alternates.

The incoming freshman I will say I am pretty excited about, perhaps a bit more so than in previous years. Let's get the run down and take a look at each of the rookies and see where they come from.

#5 Kyle Froese (pronounced "frays") plays with a lot of poise for a defenseman. Just watch the first 10 seconds of this video. Yes it was against the Ice Dogs, but that's why it stuck out in my head. Anyway, the puck finds his stick back out on the point, but he realizes that he has space and waits and fakes a shot to open the shooting lane before ripping it for the goal. A subtle but important thing that a lot of defenseman just get a shot of adrenaline through their veins and try to make something happen and force it. Will be interesting to watch him at the college level where the timing will certainly change.

#6 Zach Frye is probably the guy I'm most excited about. The 4 year USHL veteran is an aggressive guy, highlighted by the 214 minutes he spent in the penalty box last year--over double the average for the rest of the team. Aggressive might be an understatement. But he backs that up with scoring. This clip is from the 2011-12 season, his first season in Lincoln. A beauty of a wrap around on the power play. Someone asked me a while back why other teams weren't high on him, and I don't know whether they were or not. However despite having 27 points, he was a -3 player as a defenseman in 38 games. But prior to that through nearly a complete season Frye was a +23 with 11 points. Increase in scoring, but a decrease in plus/minus in a defenseman typically leads people to believe poor defensive decisions or over aggression. But the Stars had a rough year last year. They had a losing record, and coupled with that, a coaching change before the end of the season. None of that is easy on a player to transition. Hopefully with some solid coaching with the offensive defenseman mastermind behind the bench, we'll see Zach shine before long.

#13 Austin Vieth comes to the Nanooks from an area I know all too well--Marinette, Wisconsin. I've spent collectively about 8 weeks in that town for work in the past year working on the University's new arctic research vessel. Certainly a small town with a not too dissimilar climate to Fairbanks. My fingers are crossed that he got the memo to bring me a burger or two from Mickey Lu's... But when it comes to hockey, I haven't been able to find much media on this guy. The second leading scorer for the Janesville Jets of the NAHL in 2012-13 at just 13 games into the season moved up to the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL, but didn't seem to keep the scoring flame lit. However he joins his Waterloo teammate, and Black Hawks leading scorer Peter Krieger on the Nanooks' roster this season. Here's a sweet highlight from his goal against Tri-City (1:25 into the video). And a 2 point night for Vieth against Dubuque early on in the season.

#16 Tayler Munson also known as "munney" for a reason, the 21 year old Fairbanks native averaged just over a point per game for the Ice Dogs last season, and finished as the team's leading scorer. Tayler did take the leap from the NAHL to the USHL with former Ice Dogs head coach Josh Hauge after winning the Robertson Cup in 2011. However the injury bug bit hard, and Tayler made his way back eventually to the Ice Dogs. Now that he's back in action, he'll join several former Ice Dogs with the Nanooks, including the famous "Local Line" of Ice Dogs legend and lore with Alec Hajdukovich and Jared Linnell. 2010-11 was the last time the trio of Fairbanks natives played together as the Ice Dogs went 40-15-0-3, the "Local Line" combined for 152 points over the season.  One would have to figure the 3 of them would be lined up together at least for the exhibition game. It would be a big win with the fans... Just sayin'...

#26 Peter Krieger is no doubt the hottest scoring rookie to don the Nanooks' sweater this year. The 5th leading scorer in all of the USHL with 67 points topped with a +27 leads to some high scoring expectations. With the departure of Kunyk and Beck last season, I have to imagine coach Ferguson has Krieger penned in for some serious ice time this season. Shortly after Fan Fest,  someone asked me why he wasn't drafted. And the only reason I can point to, is that he didn't start playing in Junior's until he was 19. And with the draconian NHL draft rules, North American players are only draft eligible up until the year that they turn 20. But not getting drafted--especially today--means very little. Non-drafted free agents are making huge waves in today's pro hockey world, and if he's as good as he is on paper, there's no saying what will come for him.

Krieger Goal Highlight (1:03)
Top Shelf from the Slot (Beauty at 1:15)
3 point night against Dubuque (Vieth with a goal as well)

#28 Colton Sparrow is likely going to turn out to be one of the smartest pickups for the coaching staff. Colton is a very versatile player, who seems to thrive and turn it up in the clutch. Scored over a point per game in the playoffs to lead Vernon to the RBC cup finals. As a result, he was named the Player of the Year for the 2014 Playoffs, including Top Scorer and Top Forward for the RBC cup finals with five goals and two assists. This Player Profile by (tip of the hat to Tom B. for finding this one) has some choice words from his coach, as well as a nice one-on-one interview.

#32 Nick Hinz has been a defensive staple for the Ice Dogs for quite a while. The Minnesota native has been a model of consistency for the Dogs, playing in nearly every game of every season he's played there. To top it all off, he was the NAHL's leading playoff scorer among defenseman for the 2014 playoffs. He's a bit smaller at 5'11" 190lbs, but some conditioning and strength training will get him where he needs to be. He plays very well with his size though, and could see some ice time this season.

Practices did start a while ago, and this is going up way later than I wanted it too. The annual Blue/Gold scrimmage is Saturday night, and there's still a lot of things that developed over the summer. I'll admit, I was a bit bitter over the game 3 loss to ACC. But that settled long ago, I've just been busier than a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest this summer. Lots of travel, lots of projects. Moved into a new house. Things that resemble responsible adulthood... I think...

Anyway, this is a kick start. Time to get the blog back in to gear as the 'Nooks start up the new year. Fasten your seatbelt Dorothy, we're not in Kansas anymore...

Also, for the newest of news, Cody Kunyk scored his first goal in a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform. Yes, it was preseason. Still, the biscuit went in the basket. 5-hole on Kari Lehtonen... Check it out.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beck Gets 100th Point in Tight 2-1 Loss to Seawolves in Game 2

With Campbell out, I had assumed that Kaiser would be in to fill in but I didn't expect coach Ferguson to scratch J.D. Peterson in favor of Tateson, who has played just 2 games up to this point. But I think it worked out. Tateson and Kaiser are both more of stay at home defenders and they are strong on the backcheck. As a result, the 1st period was a little bit slower than we've seen in this series, but I think the Nanooks took it to the Seawolves late in the 1st after Quinn Sproule was flagged for interference.

Then with under 29 seconds on the clock, Parayko just ripped a shot from just inside the blue line as he caught the goaltender out of position to put the Nanooks up 1-0. Beck got the primary assist with the pass through the neutral zone, which ended up being his 100th career point, the 31st Nanook to do so. Big achievement there.

But in the second, the bounces just started going the other way. Every chance the 'Nooks had, the puck would be rolling just enough to miss the stick, or come off the toe of the blade just wrong enough to completely miss an open opportunity. Couple that with 2 quick goals for the Seawolves just 1:28 apart early in the 2nd gave the 'Pups some unnecessary confidence. But the 'Nooks didn't quit, and after the 2nd media timeout they came out firing. Despite the penalty, I thought Atkinson had a hell of a period. He handled the puck well and took defenders and contained to the outside. Very solid.

In the 3rd, much of the same, although a bit more even keel. Sean Cahill kept the 'Nooks in it, but the officials kept them out of it. Terrible offsides calls, terrible penalties both called and not. Was not called fairly. I don't criticize officiating often, even if its terrible as long as it goes both ways. Last night, not so much... Hard to win a game when you're playing more than just the other team.

A deciding game three is now on the books and if the 'Nooks hope to make it to Grand Rapids, they need a coordinated team effort top to bottom. Hard to believe that with one offensive cog missing from the gears, things just didn't roll the same way. Everything seemed a little off... If the 'Nooks want to win, they need to channel individual effort into a team strategy and not just have 20 skaters banging around uncoordinated. I would have much preferred to have most of the lines gelled like they have been, especially the Larson-Hochhausen-Huysmans line who had been creating havoc for defenses, but the only line that hasn't been shuffled is the top line with Beck-Kunyk-Basara. But as the game went on, Perry subbed in on the right wing to try and get things stirred up and eventually moved to center to try and help get Kunyk going.

Hard to say if the lines will be shuffled further for the final game. Time will tell.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Stat Guy - Statistical Edge After First Victory in Best of 3 Series

After the conclusion of last nights Nanooks victory, I was asked by a fellow fan, statistically how important is winning game 1 of a 3 game series? The answer is that it is critical. If the two teams are equally matched, the odds of course of a victory is a simple coin flip, or 50 percent. However after the victory in game one, the odds of prevailing rise dramatically to 75%. The odds of the loser of game one taking the series correspondingly drops to 25%.

The good news for Anchorage, if there is any, is that if they can prevail in game 2 the odds revert back to a coin toss.

This simple calculation of course does not factor in winning percentage, momentum, home ice or officiating. That's why--I am often reminded--they play the games.

Go Nooks, Math Rocks!

--The Stat Guy

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Captain Clutch Buries in OT as Nanooks Roll in OT

The first period was played very tightly. Both teams getting a number of scoring chances, but ultimately ended in a 0-0 deadlock. Much tighter than I expected to be honest. The 'Nooks played grittier, but didn't get a lot to show for it early. Also I don't know what happened, but Trevor Campbell left midway through the 1st and didn't return. He skated off quickly, like it was an equipment issue. When I saw it, I didn't think much of it, but apparently it was pretty serious. 

In the 2nd, the officials missed a terrible knee on knee penalty at the Nanooks blue line that sprung Dusyk on a 2 on 1 with Trupp. Justin Woods took the pass, but Dusyk got one over the glove to put the Seawolves up 1-0. 

The Nanooks avoided another turnover becoming disaster as a 3 on 1 for UAA was turned aside by Cahill by some strange Hockey Gods intervention. No idea how that stayed out
But the Nanooks got some jump in their step and answered with one of their own as Justin Woods corralled a rebound as he pinched in on the right wing to bury his first career collegiate goal!

Into the 3rd, the Seawolves got another off a lucky bounce created by Tatchell off a turnover at the blue line. Some power moves and throwing it to the goal and deflecting in off a skate. 

That didn't settle to well, and the Nanooks offense kept churning. Plays were happening but Gunderson was strong. But the Nanooks drew a penalty as Dylan Hubbs was caught giving Perry the business behind the goal. A roughing call got the 'Nooks pumped and set up for another power play and they took advantage to tie the game up 2-2. Great moves by the freshman to dangle through the D and bury. Collected his own rebound and got the second chance goal. 

The Nanooks would need extra time to try and get it done as 60 minutes just wasn't enough. 

But it didn't take long as Colton Beck went top shelf on Gunderson to win it. No idea how he sniped that, but that one is one for the ages. Video will be shared
later for sure. Just an unbelievable goal. 

The 'Nooks tomorrow need to come out and set the tone early. You can tell UAA is going to be ready, and the boys need to take it to 'em. 

Go 'Nooks!

Nanooks Earn Top WCHA Honors

Cody Kunyk caps his senior season off with the league's top honor, the 2014 Player of the Year and Scoring Champion. Colton Parayko added to that with the other top performing skating honor as the Defensive Player of the Year. Both players of course situated atop the All-WCHA First team.

Basara finished second in voting as Rookie of the Year despite tying LSSU's Alex Globke in scoring. I suppose you gotta give other teams a bone. But he did get himself on the All-WCHA Rookie Team

Also congratulations to Colton Beck and Tyler Morley for making the Second and Third team rosters, respectively.

The Run Begins - Nanooks Chase for National Title Begins with UAA

After claiming their 5th straight Governor's Cup, the Nanooks welcome back the 'Pups for a best of three, which really can be realized as a best of 7. Would have been interesting to see if the Governor's Cup series could have been altered to be given to the playoff winner, but we weren't that lucky.

Nothing changes between these two teams. Tyler Morley still remains day-to-day. No word has come to me yet whether he is skating or not. I'm told a game time decision for Friday.

With UAA coming back and the game they played Saturday, one has to assume they are going to have some confidence headed into this weekend. On Saturday, the 'Nooks played with new line combinations for the first time in the past 4 weeks with just a preskate under their belts. Now with a whole week of practice, I would have to assume that would change.

I was surprised to see the Huysmans-Hochhausen-Larson line split on Saturday with the injury to Tyler Morley. With Linnell out, I would have expected to see Youngmun on the right or left side with Brandon in the center and bring in Duke and Friese with Erickson, who were so successful down in Anchorage. The latter part still happened, but more shakeups were seen than I expected.

With this weekend, the 'Nooks are 4 wins away from a WCHA title, and 8 wins from the national title. Having won 7 in a row already, the 'Nooks are in a good place. If you had to end a winning streak, the final game of the regular season would be it.

Against Anchorage this weekend, the boys just have to recollect their focus. As last Friday showed, the Nanooks are the better team, its just a matter of keeping the pedal to the metal. Either way you look at it,  its going to be a great series.

Go 'Nooks!

The Stat Guy - Pi Day

Pi day celebrated by mathematicians around the world on March 14th (3/14) every year. Pi (Greek letter) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant - the ratio of the circumference of a circle to it's diameter - which is approximately 3.1415.

Why does this matter you ask? Pi is an irrational and transcendental number. It will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern.

Pi day in Fairbanks, Alaska presents a statistical anomaly which involves The WCHA, Nanook Hockey, and the Carlson Center.

With Alaska locking in the 3rd seed, they will host 6th seeded UAA. Due to the Arctic Winter Games, our home playoff series must start on March 13th rather than March 14th as games elsewhere in the WCHA. That means that Pi Day could be a very special day for Nanook fans as well as mathematicians. The Nanooks could be the first team to punch their ticket to the WCHA Final Five in Grand Rapids, Michigan's Van Andel Arena March 20th-22nd, 2014. So let's hope to celebrate together on Pi Day, fans!

Go Nooks, Math Rocks

The Stat Guy

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Full WCHA Playoff Scenarios for Saturday

Thanks to Tim Danehy at for putting this together. 

Here is every possible conclusion on the final night if WCHA hockey. Note Alaska can not improve nor falter it's position from third. 

Minnesota State -

Seeded 1st with a win.

Seeded 1st with a tie and a Ferris State loss or tie.

Seeded 1st with a loss and a Ferris State loss.

Seeded 2nd with a tie and a Ferris State win.

Seeded 2nd with a loss and a Ferris State win or tie.


Ferris State -

Seeded 1st with a win and a Minnesota State loss or tie.

Seeded 1st with a tie and a Minnesota State loss.

Seeded 2nd with a win and a Minnesota State win.

Seeded 2nd with a tie and a Minnesota State win or tie.

Seeded 2nd with a loss.


Alaska -

Seeded 3rd.


Michigan Tech -

Seeded 4th with a win.

Seeded 4th with a tie and a Bowling Green loss or tie.

Seeded 4th with a loss, a Bowling Green loss, and an Alaska Anchorage loss or tie.

Seeded 5th with a tie and a Bowling Green win.

Seeded 5th with a loss, a Bowling Green win or tie, and an Alaska Anchorage loss or tie.

Seeded 6th with a loss and an Alaska Anchorage win.


Bowling Green -

Seeded 4th with a win and a Michigan Tech loss or tie.

Seeded 4th with a tie and a Michigan Tech loss.

Seeded 4th with a loss, a Michigan Tech loss, and an Alaska Anchorage win.

Seeded 5th with a win and a Michigan Tech win.

Seeded 5th with a tie and a Michigan Tech win or tie.

Seeded 5th with a loss and a Michigan Tech win or tie.

Seeded 5th with a loss, a Michigan Tech loss, and an Alaska Anchorage loss or tie.


Alaska Anchorage -

Seeded 5th with a win and a Michigan Tech loss.

Seeded 6th with a win and a Michigan Tech win or tie.

Seeded 6th with a tie and a Northern Michigan loss or tie.

Seeded 6th with a loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State loss or tie, and a Bemidji State loss or tie.

Seeded 6th with a loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State loss, a Bemidji State win, and a Minnesota State win.

Seeded 6th with a loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State tie, a Bemidji State win, and a Minnesota State win or tie.

Seeded 7th with a tie and a Northern Michigan win.

Seeded 7th with a loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State loss, a Bemidji State win, and a Minnesota State loss or tie.

Seeded 7th with a loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State tie, a Bemidji State win, and a Minnesota State loss.

Seeded 7th with a loss, a Northern Michigan loss, and a Lake Superior State win.

Seeded 7th with a loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State loss or tie, and a Bemidji State loss or tie.

Seeded 7th with a loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State loss, a Bemidji State win, and a Minnesota State win.

Seeded 7th with a loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State tie, a Bemidji State win, and a Minnesota State win or tie.

Seeded 8th with a loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State loss, a Bemidji State win, and a Minnesota State loss or tie.

Seeded 8th with a loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State tie, a Bemidji State win, and a Minnesota State loss.

Seeded 8th with a loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, and a Lake Superior State win.


Northern Michigan -

Seeded 6th with a win and an Alaska Anchorage loss or tie.

Seeded 6th with a tie, an Alaska Anchorage loss, and an Lake Superior State loss or tie.

Seeded 7th with a win and an Alaska Anchorage win.

Seeded 7th with a tie, an Alaska Anchorage loss, and an Lake Superior State win.

Seeded 7th with a tie, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, and an Lake Superior State loss or tie.

Seeded 7th with a loss, a Lake Superior State loss or tie, and a Bemidji State loss or tie.

Seeded 8th with a tie, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, and an Lake Superior State win.

Seeded 8th with a loss, a Lake Superior State loss or tie, and a Bemidji State win.

Seeded 8th with a loss, a Lake Superior State win, and a Bemidji State loss or tie.

Finishes 9th with a loss, a Lake Superior State win, and a Bemidji State win.


Lake Superior State -

Seeded 6th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, and a Northern Michigan loss or tie.

Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, and a Northern Michigan win.

Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, and a Northern Michigan tie.

Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, a Northern Michigan loss, and a Bemidji State loss or tie.

Seeded 8th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, a Northern Michigan loss, and a Bemidji State win.

Seeded 8th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, a Northern Michigan win, and a Bemidji State loss or tie.

Seeded 8th with a tie, a Northern Michigan loss, and a Bemidji State loss or tie.

Seeded 8th with a tie, a Northern Michigan win or tie, and a Bemidji State loss.

Finishes 9th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, a Northern Michigan win, and a Bemidji State win.

Finishes 9th with a tie, a Northern Michigan loss, and a Bemidji State win.

Finishes 9th with a tie, a Northern Michigan win or tie, and a Bemidji State win or tie.

Finishes 9th with a loss.


Bemidji State -

Seeded 6th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State loss, and a Minnesota State loss or tie.

Seeded 6th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State tie, and a Minnesota State loss.

Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State loss, and a Minnesota State win.

Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan loss, a Lake Superior State tie, and a Minnesota State win or tie.

Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State loss, and a Minnesota State loss or tie.

Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State tie, and a Minnesota State loss.

Seeded 7th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, and a Northern Michigan loss.

Seeded 8th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State loss, and a Minnesota State win.

Seeded 8th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, a Lake Superior State tie, and a Minnesota State win or tie.

Seeded 8th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan loss, and a Lake Superior State win.

Seeded 8th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, a Northern Michigan tie, and a Lake Superior State loss or tie.

Seeded 8th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, and a Northern Michigan win.

Seeded 8th with a tie and a Lake Superior State loss.

Seeded 8th with a tie, a Northern Michigan win or tie, and a Lake Superior State tie.

Seeded 8th with a loss and a Lake Superior State loss.

Finishes 9th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage loss, a Northern Michigan win or tie, and a Lake Superior State win.

Finishes 9th with a win, an Alaska Anchorage win or tie, a Northern Michigan tie, and a Lake Superior State win.

Finishes 9th with a tie, a Northern Michigan loss, and a Lake Superior State tie.

Finishes 9th with a tie and a Lake Superior State win.

Finishes 9th with a loss and a Lake Superior State win or tie.


Alabama Huntsville -

Finishes 10th.


Cody Kunyk and the Nanooks Take ACC to the Woodshed 7-2

This is rapidly changing from a rivalry to an ownership. All I'm going to say right now is that Cody Kunyk is like a man amongst children. Certainly a guy you don't want to leave open ever, but Anchorage didn't learn that soon enough. Torched tonight for 4 by the Nanooks senior who put a clinic on not just for his parents who were in the crowd, but for the NHL scouts that made it to town for this series. I've heard 3 teams have representatives in town, Edmonton, Tampa Bay, and Anaheim are the teams that I have heard. Anaheim is the only one that I can actually confirm. 

Tyler Morley put the exclamation point on this one with two early goals in the first period. The first was an absolute beauty of a rocket over the glove on the rush. The air would be quickly let out of the building as Tyler went down on an awkward hit delivered by Austin Coldwell coming out from the boards. Weird momentum, Tyler didn't see it coming. Strange angle. Wasn't a dirty hit, just one of those things that gets a little scary. Watching him in pain as he's helped off the ice was a very unsettling feeling. 

I very much hope that he's OK. I do not know how serious the injury is. Obviously I hope its minor. But all things considered, I don't expect him to play tomorrow.

Tomorrow is senior night, so be sure to get their early to support our 3 graduating seniors. All 3 of these guys are exemplary young men and we owe it to them to give them the send-off they deserve. Going to be an emotional one, I'm sure I'll shed a tear or two. These guys are special. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Stat Guy: Net Profits

Sometimes mathematicians or statisticians have a simple gut intinct about data. In my favorite book 'Against The Gods' written by Peter Bernstein, the gambling addict Girolamo Cardano has a suspicion that a certain play gains him a very slight advantage and is therefore profitable. His instinct proves true upon further investigation by a famous mathematician of his time Blaise Pascal which he has consulted. The hunch I started with but couldn't quite put my finger on until I consulted the statistics was that the Nanooks were improving as a team and in net...

My basic premise was that the team has played much better in the second half of the season and even better in the last 10 games than the first half. Upon further investigation a couple of things stood out and if you are like me it will come as quite a surprise. But enough foreshadowing, lets get to the numbers and figure out the conclusion together.

In the first half of the season (18 games) the 'Nooks scored 55 goals (3.06 GFA)and surrendered 54 goals (3.00 GAA) a very marginal difference for a record of 8-10-4. In the second half 14 games thus far, the Nooks have scored 55 goals (3.92 GFA) and surrendered just 35 goals (2.5 GAA)a statistically significant difference. A wonderful improvement right, wait it gets better. In the last 10 games the Nanooks have scored 46 goals (4.6 GFA) and surrendered only 23 goals (2.3 GAA).

Prior to the final 10 games Keeney was 3-3-2, Jones 4-5-1 and Cahill 1-2-1. In the last 10 games Keeney has gone 1-1-0 and Cahill is 7-1-0. The recent winning streak of 8 of the last 9 games means that the Nanooks are now fighting with their arch rivals for home ice in the playoffs this weekend.

Let's delve deeper into the goaltender statistical archives and tempt fate even further. Since Cahill has gone 7-1-0 in his last 8 starts his GAA has dropped to 2.25 per game. How good is that you say? Well he has continued to climb the Goaltending Leaders list in the WCHA during that stretch and now occupies the number 2 position behind Minnesota State Freshman sensation Cole Huggins at 2.08. The recently dispatched C.J. Motte of Ferris State, resides in third place with a (2.37 GAA). Cahill was certainly the benefiary of the 'Nooks hanging 9 goals on Motte last weekend in two games at the Carlson Center as he passed him on his way to the top. Save Percentage currently has Sean at number 9 and rising. Finally, perhaps the ultimate test of a goaltender is his winning percentage, the WCHA leader is C.J. Motte at 22-7-3 or .734 and yes you probably guessed it by now but sitting in number 2 and heating up is Sean Cahill at .708.

If you attend the games this weekend and Sean is in net, let's let him hear it from the crowd. He and the team in front of him have made quite a run and they are absolutely on fire. So what have we learned from this somewhat long and arduous research project? Well, my business law professor in college was fond of the latin phrase "ipsa loquitor" or "the thing speaks for itself". In other words, the facts (stats) in the case lead to only one logical conclusion. One of my favorite mathematics instructors believed that the "proof was in the pudding". Translation: he felt that it was easy to make profound claims in math but it was a bit more difficult matter to prove them. I had suspected after the Nooks made their recent run from 9th place to a tie for 3rd that they had improved significantly. What I was not expecting to find in the data which Malcolm Gladwell points out in his best selling book of the same name was that Sean Cahill and the Nooks had become statistical 'Outliers' in their league. No team in the conference would want to face the Nanooks if they can maintain their current momentum.

Go Nooks, Math Rocks!

The Stat Guy