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.

Air Force is quite a familiar foe for both Alaska teams, as the Falcons frequent the Last Frontier early in the season. This being their 3rd consecutive trip up here, and 4th in 5 years they are no strangers. They're a hard working team that make you earn every inch of space and every goal. They're efficient with the puck, and they typically don't commit a lot of penalties. That has been their calling card the past few years, and its what helped them to a 21-14-4 record last season. Their top four scorers are all back for their senior seasons, including Cole Gunnar and Chad Demers. But they are young between the pipes. Sophomore Chris Truehl returns for a sophomore campaign after starting 14 games last season, starting 11 with an 8-3-0 record at 2.01 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. He started both games against Mercyhurst this past weekend and surrendered five between both evenings.

Friday is also Air Force appreciation night, so active duty and retired members of the Air Force and their families can get in free on Friday night to watch the action.

Guy Gadowsky probably doesn't need an introduction, as he's possibly the one guy that everyone points to for putting Nanook Hockey on the map. He rejuvenated a program that was starting to slump, and he came in at just the right time and re-steered the ship. It's kind of become his calling card. After departing UAF, he joined with Princeton and coached the Tigers. After his first season in 2004-05 going 8-20-3, Gadz had the tigers with a winning record and 21-14-0 in 2008-09. Their first winning season since 1999.

He hasn't had the chance to get the Nittany Lions there just yet since taking over a hybrid ACHA/NCAA team in 2011, but last year despite the 8-26-2 record they crushed the spirits of every Michigan Wolverines fan in the country with a double OT win at the Big Ten championship quarterfinals in St. Paul, MN. Gotta love it.

Gadowsky has always had that fire to get his team ready to play. And he's got some guys with some veteran talent on the team, including defenseman Patrick Koudys. He's a junior who started his first two seasons with RPI in New York, but elected to transfer. The Washington Capitals prospect is an offensive defenseman with strong stick skills and solid skating. And he can score. But defensively, he can shut plays down. At 6'3", his long reach is definitely something to contend with.

There's also former Seawolf Eric Scheid, who was Penn State's top scorer last season with an 11-9-20 scoring line. Scheid departed UAA amidst the Dave Shyiak debacle. Can't say I blame him. Casey Bailey is an Anchorage kid, but played in the BCHL. You know Gadz still has to have some contacts in the western Canada region... He's another big guy too, also at 6'3". In his sophomore campaign last year, he bagged nine goals and a total of 13 points.

Coming off a 2-0 weekend in Anchorage with coach Ferguson earning his 100th win, the Nanooks are looking to keep things going. Still no official word on Tyler Morley's status. He has been skating, but the coaching staff may decide to keep him out this weekend to be safe. Make sure he's 100% for the long road trip.

I would imagine the reigning WCHA defensive player of the week Davis Jones will get the start between the pipes Friday. But it may be an opportunity for Cahill or Keeney to get some action as well.

The Tournament Kick-Off luncheon is tomorrow from 11:45AM to 1PM at the Carlson Center. All four coaches are expected to speak. And if you haven't listened to a Frank Serratore speech, this might be the time. The guy is an absolute comedic genius when it comes to this stuff. It's well worth the price of admission. The luncheons are back at the Carlson Center this season, the usual $15.

The puck drops Friday at 5:07PM for the UAA/Penn State game. Alaska/Air Force will follow at 8:07PM. The away teams will swap for Saturday and the puck drop times will slide up an hour to 4:07PM and 7:07PM.

Go 'Nooks!

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