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!

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