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!