Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Rivalry Week - 'Nuff Said

This week we get to see the Fairbanks/Anchorage rivalry renewed yet again. As many acclaim, its less of a collegiate duel than it is a battle of cities. On one side, the city fanboys who love to look at Alaska out of their windows. Be it their cars, offices, or for the few that can afford to look at Alaska from atop the hillside (hopefully without getting shot).

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Interview with Coach Ferguson

So a lot is going on. The Nanooks are coming off a weekend at home getting swept by Michigan Tech. And coming into another home series against Lake Superior State in the final home series of the calendar year.

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Coach Ferguson and discuss some of the things coming out of last weekend as we look ahead.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Preview With a Mix of Recap - A PreCap. If You Will

The Nanooks this season are off to similar starts as their past seasons in conference play. When you look at the first eight conference games...

2015-2016: 2-4-2
2014-2015: 2-6-0
2013-2014: 2-6-0
2012-2013: 4-3-1

Last year, which most consider the best year under Ferguson's tenure with 19 wins didn't start to have that feel until February, the beginning of a 9 conference game unbeaten streak. Early last season, similar woes on special teams frustrated the Nanooks on both sides...

Thursday, November 5, 2015

If History Keeps Repeating Itself...

The Nanooks should sweep this weekend, right? Swept, Sweep, Swept... SWEEP!

Next road series, let's worry about a split. But for now... Keep it rolling.

Last weekend at MSU was a bit of a mess. Friday wasn't as bad as the score made it seem. The Nanooks gave the Mavericks the opportunities they needed on special teams. MSU capitalized and cashed in. Saturday was a much better outing for the 'Nooks. They dictated the pace at points, but in the end they didn't have an answer for their defense.

Northern Michigan, as a team, doesn't look much different than MSU. Similar size, similar schemes. Let's take a closer look...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bye Week Banter Into First WCHA Roadie to Mankato

Having a bye week early is pretty nice. Getting four solid non-conference games against quality opponents followed by a chance to regroup, reassess, and work on problem areas is a good opportunity to take advantage of before jumping into conference play. And when your first opponent is last year's conference champion, you need that opportunity.

After mustering just one goal during the Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage, the Nanooks surged with 11 goals in the Brice Alaska Goal Rush. Tayler Munson's emergence was a big part of that. Named the team's top athlete during pre-season training, the sophomore forward surged with back to back two goal games and added a couple of assists on top of that. Hands down the tournament MVP, but also turned into last week's 2nd star in all of NCAA hockey. All in all, the Saturday game against RPI was, in the words of assistant coach Corbin Schmidt, a good indicator of what the Nanooks are capable of.

Turning to the Mavericks, they've had a bit of an interesting start to their season as well. Starting off 0-4 with straight home losses to UNO and on the road at St. Cloud. Mankato managed 2 goals in the first game against the UNO Mavericks, but didn't score another goal until their WCHA opener vs Bemidji. 195 and 23 seconds straight, 3 whole games plus 15:23 without scoring a goal. Quite odd considering they averaged over 3 goals scored per game last year.

And yes, Gervais, Blueger, Stepan, and Nelson are all still there this year.

The Minnesota boys in purple may have made a turn for the better with a pair of 3-2 wins over Bemidji on the road, but it remains to be seen how they can follow that up returning home. Cole Huggins has played the majority of the minutes between the pipes, but freshman Jason Pawloski took to the crease for one of the games against Bemidji, allowing 2 goals on 20 shots.

I wasn't able to watch that game live as I was in Dillingham for work. But watching the game on demand on, the Mavericks are taking advantage of opportunities. Saturday's 3 goals came on 2 power plays (set up quite well, I might add), and a defensive lapse given up to Zach Stepan, arguably one of their best forwards for a breakaway goal. Friday was even worse on Bemidji's part, allowing two shorthanded goals. The Mavericks don't screw around on the PK either though, head coach Mike Hastings preaches pressure. The puck carrier is allowed ZERO room, and both were forced turnovers. Teddy Blueger's shorthanded game winner was a thing of beauty too, deflecting a pass at the half wall intended for the defenseman, who was completely caught off guard and found himself immediately 3 strides behind going up the ice.

Moral of the story though, DON'T GIVE THEM CHANCES. Stay out of the box, and make smart plays with the puck. The Mavericks scored just one goal 5 on 5 against Bemidji, and just two 5 on 5 goals all season thus far. If the Nanooks can stay out of the box again this weekend, they'll be in good shape to set up for success. Defensively, the Nanooks have to contain. Watch for Mankato to reverse direction to open up the back side. Defensemen, keep the Mavericks in front of you. And help out your goaltender. Keep the pucks out of the slot, and stay true to blocking passing and shooting lanes.

Offensively, it's up to the 'Nooks to execute. Create chances in transition, and set up 2nd and 3rd chances in close with guys crashing the net. Keep their defenseman chasing, and capitalize. Finish Finish FINISH.

OK, I'm hyped for the game. It's almost midnight. I need to try to sleep now...

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Nanooks Swept at Kendall Classic for First Time, Fall to ASU 2-1

A much better start for Alaska today. The Sun Devils are not a slouch team by any means. They had some chances to get something going, but the Nanooks had possession on lock down. Davis Jones was barely touched, and at the end of the 1st, there was still fresh ice patches in the Nanooks end.

The goal in the first was a thing of beauty. Jack Weiss hustles to the boards to keep in a clearing attempt after Huysmans made a nice play in front of the net to begin the sequence. Weiss passed down low to Krieger who made his way below the goal line. As all of the defenseman cleared the slot to pressure the puck carrier, Krieger caught Tyler Morley virtually alone to the net coming down. Morley put it on the backhand and buried over the pad of Pashovitz to begin the scoring.

GAME DAY - Game 2 at the Kendall Classic against Arizona State

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks (WCHA, 0-1-0) vs Arizona State Sun Devils (Ind., 0-1-0)
4:07PM AKST - Sullivan Arena, Anchorage, AK

Live | Live Audio820 Sports 820AM

Live Internet VideoWCHA TV

Twitter: @NanookHockey

Obviously a tough night last night, especially for the defensive guys. Koberstein and Burns had some bright spots, but there's a lot to learn and improve upon. Both of them will sit out tonight as Nick Hinz will step in on the line with Zach Frye. Rookie Jack Weiss will get his first action tonight as well, paired with Josh Atkinson.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Huskies Blank Alaska 3-0 in Kendall Classic Opener

Nanooks had a bit of a slow start. A bit undisciplined with 4 straight power plays surrendered to the Huskies. After surrendering two quick goals, the guys finally got it going. The early goal was a botched clearing attempt. Really an unlucky break as a Nanook defenseman went for a breakout and surrendered it to Ethan Prow. A quick play to David Morley up the gut who took the first shot on goal. Jones made the save but Benik cashed in the rebound.

GAME DAY - Kendall Hockey Classic - Alaska vs St. Cloud State

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks (WCHA, 0-0-0) vs St. Cloud State Huskies (NCHC, 0-0-0)
4:07PM AKST - Sullivan Arena, Anchorage, AK

Live | Live Audio: 820 Sports 820AM

Live Internet VideoWCHA TV

Twitter: @NanookHockey

This is going to be a great game tonight. It's honestly the one I'm most excited for this weekend. The line chart looks solid for the 'Nooks. Rookies intermixed with the upperclassmen. Should be a good show. Big test right out of the gates, that's for sure.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thursday Night Rumblings

Parayko looked good in his first real action in a Blues sweater. He got a lot of ice time in all three phases, took couple of shots (both at the puck, and at some opposing players...). Good to see... I'm very happy for him. Like Kunyk jumping straight into NHL action, I hope its not TOO soon. But getting the stint in the AHL last season to get a glimpse at the pro life before coming into camp this year was probably great for him. He is even more beastly than he was during his time here.

On to the Kendall, I'm headed to Anchorage in the morning. Pretty confident in our guys, hoping they can step up and get it done against SCSU. Not that we played poorly in the exhibition, but I would like to see more of a defensive effort. Allowing 37 shots to SCSU isn't going to yield 0 goals against. 'Nooks need to maintain possession, keep it moving, and make smart passes. Dump and chase is necessary at times, but if the guys can get on it and make quick transitions, I don't think SCSU can skate with us... I'm curious to see who gets the first shot between the pipes. I think all three of our goaltenders look really good. Keeney had some seriously glorious moments last week in that 3rd period. Jenks was tested a bit too with guys getting in his face and cutting his visibility. But I still think its Davis' job to lose. Decisions like these though make my glad I'm not the coach..

No idea what to think of ASU yet, obviously sticking around for the Friday night game though between them and UAA so I'll have at least some idea for Saturday. A lot of transfers from other schools, but not sure how many of them are eligible or not...

Bold predictions here....

Friday 3-2 Win
Saturday 4-1 Win

We shall see..

Go 'Nooks!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Nanooks Conquer Mt. Royal 4-0

Nolan Huysmans with a close chance
Mt. Royal is a lot better than I think a lot of people realized. Granted, neither team could get a lot of passes through, but a close hockey game. The Cougars are probably the toughest CIS matchup the Nanooks have faced since I've been around the program. I can't recall a team that kept the Nanooks out of their element for such extended periods of time. They outshot the 'Nooks pretty badly, 21-12 at one point, but the perseverance paid off.

Mt. Royal had two goals overturned by the end of the 2nd period. The first was an easy call, distinct kicking motion into Jones' pads. The second, they called goalie interference. Specifically that the goalie's process to make a save was interfered with. AKA a guy was chilling in the crease for no reason except to disrupt vision. But he got a little too close.

Tyler Morley bags goal number 3 for the 'Nooks.
The Nanooks goal was a squeaker from Ryker Leer. Goalie never saw it sneak inside the far post. But with under 3 seconds to play in the 1st period on the power play, it was well timed at least. Peter Krieger would wrist in goal number two early into the 3rd period off a flip from Nolan Huysmans. Not too much later, Tyler Morley capitalized on a similar play from Peter Krieger as this line continued to click all night long. The Cougars pulled their goalie with about 3 minutes to play, but Josh Erickson's shark-like nose smelled the blood in the water and really pushed hard to force the turnover and get back down the ice and bury the empty-netter.

After last week's Blue/Gold, I was pretty anxious to see how the rookies would get along with the upper classmen on the ice. I got some of that sense last week, but with all of them on one bench seeing the shakeups throughout the night was great. John Mullally will be a good dynamic forward. A lot of speed, good skills, and not afraid to get a bit physical. Ryker Leer has some great composure and patience, but it comes off as hesitation sometimes and there's not nearly as much space or time at this level to wait around. I wouldn't call that a mistake so to speak, but an observation throughout the evening that I found myself waiting for him to do something.
Things got a bit chippy at times.

Chad Staley--this kid can play. Doesn't have a lot of size, but in almost Datsyukian-fashion he had a rush 1 on 3 in the 2nd period and he deked out all but the last defender. One of those moments you wish would have paid off, especially as a player. Hope to see more of that.

Peter Krieger with the nice hand-eye coordination.
Defensively, the 'Nooks look solid. Obviously losing a guy like Parayko hurts. But the team is going to have to fill that void collectively. Two guys suiting up this year by the names of Jordan Burns and Nik Koberstein are equipped to do just that. As the season wears on, we'll see more of their offensive sides develop at this level but both guys should be solid contributors. Great to see J.D. Peterson doing so well too. With the work he's put in, he's got the ability to been a great shut down defender for the team.

For the goalies, each played a period tonight. Par for the course. Jones was tested a bit more as the Cougars got the better start. Technically neither goalie allowed a goal. Jenks looked good too, composed in the crease, doesn't over-commit. Keeney looked great too. A lot of juicy rebounds left out there, but he had a LOT of really good saves too, including a Class A Robbery on a back door feed. Not going to be easy picking a starter for the Anchorage tournament, that's for sure.

All that said, Mt. Royal was a good challenge. But it's a short week for the guys and St. Cloud, a pre-season top 20 team looms around the corner. Let the season begin!

 All of the photos here are courtesy of MMF Photography. Check out the full gallery of photos at his SmugMug page!

GAME DAY - Exhibition vs. Mount Royal

Game Day

Alaska Nanooks (0-0-0) vs Mt. Royal University (CIS Canada West, 0-0-0)
3:07PM AKST - Carlson Center, Fairbanks, AK

Live | Live Audio: NONE

Live Internet VideoWCHA TV

Twitter: @NanookHockey

After holding UAA to 13 shots on goal, and 0 goals the Mt. Royal Cougars look to extend their Alaskan domination north to Fairbanks. We'll see about that. Some of the Anchorage fan base is already imploding on themselves. It's pretty humorous considering that this was just an exhibition game against a decent team with a good mix of Canadian Junior A and Major Junior players. Not too dissimilar to an NCAA squad in terms of size and skill. 

For the 'Nooks, the line combinations are going to be the story of the day as the new freshman get their first action in a real game situation as they look to develop chemistry with the upper-classmen. Here's my first stab at what I think we'll see in that department:

Peter Krieger-Tyler Morley-Marcus Basara
Brandon Morley-Austin Vieth-Nolan Huysmans
John Mullally-Tayler Munson-Alec Hajdukovich
Ryker Leer-Colton Sparrow-Josh Erickson
Jasen Fernsler  --  Chad Staley

Josh Atkinson - J.D. Peterson
Zach Frye - Nikolas Koberstein
Justin Woods - Nick Hinz
Jordan Burns - Jack Weiss

Kyle Froese (injured)

Davis Jones
John Keeney
Jesse Jenks

If these were the lineups to begin tonight (and they're not, this is just my stab), we would see this change multiple times throughout the night. Just based on my looks at the Blue/Gold game, John Mullally could be a great forward dynamic and will probably float between the top 3 lines as a fresh face in the mix. Ryker Leer could have a similar impact. With Jared Linnell's departure, that leaves just two extra forwards. But everyone has a shot at playing time. Today will be their first shot to prove that they belong in the lineup.

Of note, there will not be any live audio from today's exhibition. Bruce Cech will not be in the arena. No radio coverage, and no play by play on the feed. You'll just have to be entertained by V-MAX and myself over the arena PA.

Hope to see the fans fill the rink this afternoon. Sunday game is a bit different, but mid-afternoon should everyone home before dinnertime. Go 'Nooks!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Blue/Gold Gives Glimpse of Things to Come

I have to say, the new media guy at the athletic department--Chris Caskey for those that don't know--is pretty stellar. I'm going to cut the corners of the recap and let him have those honors...

But what a scrimmage. Pretty close despite a 2-0 final score. All three goalies looked pretty good. Both goals were scored on Keeney, but he settled down afterwards and made some good saves. Both goals though were great individual efforts, but Keeney wanted the goal from Huysmans back... A bit of a breakaway, and a great shot to sneak it inside the right goal post over Keeney's shoulder--a shot from the opposite side.

But Nolan Huysmans came back to play. He's back with some serious speed and skill. You can tell he's put a lot of time in to boost his game... Same with Peter Krieger. I expected more from the USHL scoring stud last season, but he lacked some speed. Certainly has the skill, but now he's got some more speed to go with it. Early prediction - Peter Krieger-Tyler Morley-Nolan Huysmans is the top line going into the season. If Dallas sees this though, he might change it to spite me (or balance out other lines...), but those three together--even if just on the power play--could be scary good.

What a return for Justin Woods too. As soon as his name was announced, the Fairbanks native was greeted with a rousing ovation. Touching, really. Shows how much this community really cares for its own.

As far as the recruits go, John Mullally is the real deal. Truth be told, I haven't had a lot of time to dig into the research on these guys to see how they would play. And during the scrimmage with all that was going on for me in the box, note taking was at a minimum as well. But Mullally really stood out, not just because of his goal (which was a good shot from just inside the circle) but because of his presence. He has some of that Cody Kunyk-esque flair for seeing the ice. I made that comparison a couple of times throughout the evening. Ryker Leer also struck a few chords with grit and tenacity. Jesse Jenks looks quite good between the pipes too, but I think it's David Jones' job to lose at this point.

But I bet all three of the tendys will see some action this Sunday, athe boys get to beat up on someone other than themselves hopefully.

Mt. Royal University out of Calgary, Alberta is a very large school. Just shy of 40 thousand enrolled students, they've got some great resources as an educational institution. Working for UAF myself, I find that I take a lot of the things UAF has to offer for granted. Mt. Royal's Bisset School of Business is highly regarded, as is their aviation program. However, they do not offer any graduate level programs.

On the ice thus far, they're just coming off a two-game exhibition series against the familiar Northern Alberta Institute of Technology including a 5-4 OT win, and a 8-4 loss. From what I can tell, they play with speed and have some tenacity. Looks like defense is lacking a bit, but they can score goals.

The Cougars take on the Seapups in Soldotna (of all places) on Friday. Saturday, Mt Royal will spend all day on a bus to make it up here for Sunday. Should make for some fresh legs... Be sure to check for the game on the new I just got my subscription for the year, I'm pretty excited to see how it turns out.

I heard the video quality from the Blue/Gold game was good, but the audio feed was not. Trust me, even the crowd at the game couldn't even understand the PA for most of the night. Talking to Bruce Cech, they didn't have a direct line from him over to the media table either, so they relied on some short run FM transmitters to make it happen. It worked, but not incredibly well. The Carlson Center is of course much better equipped. I imagine it may take some time on Sunday to get things sorted out with the new provider, but the techies do a good job getting those kinks straightened.

I'm quite ready for the season though. Amped even. GO 'NOOKS

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Boys Are Back - Welcome to 2015-2016 Nanook Hockey

Well, that was a long hiatus. I hate coming here and not finding anything new to read. But I suppose that's my own fault. The good news is though, hockey is here and so is the blog! You may notice the new theme - while last years theme was nice and customizable for the readers, I felt it was too... blah. So new year, new design.

It's been a long time coming...

The summer was great, but the snow is here and its time to get things rolling. In fact, tonight is the annual Face Off Club Blue/Gold Scrimmage. Some big changes are afoot this year. First off, at the Carlson Center, the news spread like wildfire that the entire west side of the building--both upper and lower sections--will allow beer and wine in your seats. As the athletic department was in a renegotiation year with the Borough and SMG for its use of the Carlson Center for hockey, the topic came up and is actually going to end up saving the athletic department money. The department will not directly receive the revenue of the sale of alcohol--doing so would require a lot more paperwork--the Carlson Center will be deducting the nightly lease rate each weekend by the total volume in alcohol sales dollar-for-dollar. And this isn't going to be just your typical run-of-the-mill domestic beers and wines, the Carlson Center will feature microbrews from Alaska and other breweries around the country on a rotating basis, as well as select wines from popular vineyards including Bear Creek. The food situation is changing around this as a result too. There will be a "Beer and Brats" corner where the Nachos place was last year, the Nachos will move back to where they were. The former beer garden on ice level will become a bit of a food court for fans to get food when they come in the door before they go to their seats. Should improve a lot of the timing issues fans had last year.

There is also the addition of a box seat section on the north wall of the building below the alumni banners at ice level, which will offer full bar service, and a dedicated wait staff. Money raised from the box seat sales will go to the Nanook Hockey Alumni and their fundraising efforts for the team.

Also of major note, the WCHA as a league changed vendors for (THANK YOU!), going away from AmericaOne/Eversport and instead going with Stretch Internet. Having used Stretch before for some of the other Nanook sports, they're very stable and a good quality stream. I have not seen a High Definition feed through Stretch at this point yet, so I hope the quality there is up to snuff for what the league promised its members two years ago when the schools were required to purchase an exorbitant list of high dollar camera and production equipment. The best news about this though is the service is a bit cheaper. Not quite as cheap as NCHC, but you also get the ability two watch up to four games simultaneously. Along with seamless game switching and full on-demand. You can buy a single game for $7.99, or an all-day pass for all WCHA games for $9.99. There are season passes to follow your team for $89.99/year, or a league season pass for $129.99/year that covers all league games, as well as non-conference home games and postseason for all WCHA teams.

The Athletic Department will use Stretch for the Blue/Gold Scrimmage tonight for free from the Patty Ice Arena. Understand ahead of time that this will not be fully indicative of the quality as the equipment at the Patty is not on par by any stretch of the imagination to the equipment at the Carlson Center.

As for the Blue/Gold Game itself, it starts at 7:07PM, doors open at 6:00PM. $10 for adults, $5 for kids 12-under, or $30 for a family of 4 or more.

Image courtesy Chris Caskey,
There you have it, folks. This season's captains headed up by senior forward Tyler Morley. A guy that needs no introduction, but finished last season with a career high 37 points throughout the season, as well 33 points in WCHA action--second best in the league.

Alec Hajdukovich, also entering his senior season developed into a force to be reckoned with as the season progressed last year. The setup that Duke served to Josh Erickson last season for the game winning goal of the final game last season against Anchorage still counts as one of my favorite plays of the season. It wasn't intentional--a puck intelligently chipped from the boards to the front of the net find's the stick of Erickson for the goal. Plays like that are what it takes to win in this league.

J.D. Peterson has returned to the team this year as a ripped monster. Every year, Mike Curtin--perhaps better known as MC--puts the guys through a gauntlet of strength and conditioning tests at the beginning of each season. The final test is a group of three max lifts--bench press, power clean, and squat. All three must be done within two hours of the first. The score is the combined weight which determines the annual strong man award. In 2003, Kelly Czuy set the program record at 1,001 lbs. J.D. tied that record. He means business for his final year in a Nanook sweater.

The final alternate is the only  non-senior of the bunch. Sophomore Zach Frye returns this season with the hope to step up the offensive side of his game to help close the gap left by departing NHLer Colton Parayko (watch for him to make the Blues roster this season). Zach was the captain of the Lincoln Stars in his final year of USHL action before joining the Nanooks last season. His leadership role off the ice and in the classroom is apparent. Zach posted a 4.0 GPA his first semester and made the UAF Chancellor's honor list.

The team's first full practice this week was full of energy. The team had some jump in their step and fundamentals appeared a bit more solid than I remember from years past. Passing was pretty on point, and the coaching staff was already working the team through situational drills by the end of the first hour. I didn't stay for the whole duration, but all appeared to be running well. Notably absent though was Shawn Hochhausen. The would-be Junior skated in every game for the Nanooks last year. Not sure what prevented him from coming back this season. Also departing was Jared Linnell, & Matt Friese, who I had heard left on their own terms. Matt Friese got married this summer. But I haven't heard what Jared is up to.

The goaltending situation this season is bound to see some change. Last season, time was nearly evenly split between Sean Cahill and Davis Jones. Cahill posted the better numbers while Jones technically had a slightly better record. With Cahill graduating (with honors, mind you) that leaves some big time to fill. Jones looked like he was getting the starters reps in practice, although John Keeney looks sharp as well. Jesse Jenks, the incoming freshman the coaches have praised, has the size and poise to compete for the job as well. Will there be a perennial starter?

Look for the first real report tomorrow as we get to break down the teams first look at real "game action" in the scrimmage tonight. Of course I intend for all of you to attend or watch from home if you're out of town. Certainly comment here with how well the Stretch stream works. I hope it runs smoothly! Your's truly will be the on-ice PA announcer again this year. It's time for some fun!

Go 'Nooks!

2015-2016 Alaska Nanooks Roster
(by class)

Freshmen (8)
2 Jack Weiss, D (Rio Grande Valley-NAHL)
4 Jordan Burns, D (Salmon Arm-BCHL)
5 Nikolas Koberstein (MTL, 2014 5th Rd.), D (Bloominton-USHL)
18 John Mullally, LW (Whitecourt-AJHL)
23 Ryker Leer, LW (Camrose-AJHL)
25 Chad Staley, C (Prince George-BCHL)
26 Jasen Fernsler, C (Topeka-NAHL)
29 Jesse Jenks, G (Prince George-BCHL)

Sophomores (7)
6 (A) Zach Frye, D (Lincoln-USHL)
12 Nick Hinz, D (Fairbanks-NAHL)
13 Austin Vieth, C/LW (Waterloo-USHL)
16 Tayler Munson, C/RW (Fairbanks-NAHL)
17 Kyle Froese, D (Corpus Christi-NAHL)
20 Peter Krieger, C/LW (Waterloo-USHL)
28 Colton Sparrow, C/LW (Vernon-BCHL)

Juniors (5)
7 Josh Erickson, LW (Sioux City-USHL)
8 Justin Woods, D (Fairbanks-NAHL, Lincoln-USHL)
9 Marcus Basara, RW (West Kelowna-BCHL)
14 Brandon Morley, LW (Coquitlam-BCHL)
30 Davis Jones, G (Nipawin-SJHL)

Seniors (6)
10 (A) J.D. Peterson, D (Communication)
11 (A) Alec Hajdukovich, RW (Business Administration)
22 Josh Atkinson, D (Finance, Accounting)
24 Nolan Huysmans, RW (Business Administration)
27 (C) Tyler Morley, C (Business Administration)
39 John Keeney, G (Business Administration

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Nanooks Sweep, Bring Home Governor's Cup for 6th Straight Time

What a weekend. So incredibly proud of the guys for overcoming adversity, coming into Anchorage down 2-0 in the series and getting a sweep in their barn and a shootout win to keep the hardware where it belongs. 

Game 2 was incredibly fun to watch tonight as the Nanooks dropped the hammer and set the tone in the 1st period, outshooting the Seawolves 20-5 in the first stanza. But with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard, it remained a one shot game into the second period. 

Zach Frye was confined to the penalty box for the first 1:57 of the second due to a checking from behind minor in front of the Nanook net. A good penalty in my mind as the Seawolves would have had a 2 on 0 opportunity after forcing a turnover on the forecheck. The Nanooks were holding the Seawolves power play at bay when Brandon Morley made a great play to chip the puck out of the zone. He got the first read on it and made a B-Line (see what I did there...) to the offensive zone to retrieve it. He collected it behind the goal line and found Tayler Munson to break the scoreless tie whilst shorthanded.

Just over a minute later, Krieger won the draw over to Munson after he got waved out of the faceoff circle. Got the puck over to the far side point to Trevor Campbell who made a nice read of the traffic in front and sent the puck through which took a fortunate bounce off the skate of UAA forward Blake Lease before finding the twine. 

The 3rd Nanooks goal tonight is probably my favorite of the weekend. With about 5 and a half to play in the 2nd, Alec Hajdukovich goes on a forechecking rampage. He picked off an outlet pass on the breakout, and then forced another turnover before making a nice feed to Erickson who realizes he has time in the slot and rips it home top shelf, all they up by the Thin Mints.  Up 3-rip at this point, things were looking pretty good for the guys in blue. Cahill had some seriously good saves this weekend. Including a snaring glove on a desperation jump to close the back door on a chance by Cameron in the 2nd. 

But UAA would finally crack the scoreless draught 95 minutes and 43 seconds into this weekend series. Tad Kozun would be the benefactor of being in the right place at the right time, collecting a rebound off of an Austin Azurdia shot to put UAA on the board for the first time of the weekend. 

Then Azurdia would make things a bit interesting as he took a shot from the weirdest angle and find its way in. I didn't see the shot from about 140 feet away amidst all the bodies, but it definitely went in. 

The Seawolves tried to keep coming too, but the Nanooks stymied nearly every entry attempt, and picked off several passes in the latter stages of the 3rd period to not even give them a sniff at the goal as the clock expired. 

But the Governor's Cup is still to be determined by the ensuing shootout. A feat which has now occurred 7 times in the history of the trophy. The Seawolves used their advantage to shoot first, which Tad Kozun rang off the left goal post. Tyler Morley cashed in on a great deke past Mantha for ultimately the championship winner as Cahill came up big on the final two shooters, including senior Scott Allen who had to score to keep it going, which Cahill promptly denied as the festivities ensued. Including Colton Parayko charging his own goaltender. Feet came off the ice, by all accounts a 5 minute major. But instead he'll hoist the Governor's Cup for the 6th straight time. 

This weekend marks the first time the Nanooks have swept the Seawolves in Anchorage as far back as the history books online allow me to search, also yesterday was the first time in 10 years the Nanooks have shutout the Seawolves in their barn. 

To our seniors, thank you immensely for leading this team through the season. With the sanctions, it would have been very easy to write this season off with nothing to play for.  But you didn't. Through all of the ups and downs, you guys lead this team to an 8 game unbeaten streak, the longest in the entire country to close out the season and end your careers. Playoffs or not, you're leaving as champions. 

To Colton Parayko, please stay. If the Blues call and you head to the show, I won't be upset. But I can only imagine what next year holds with you still patrolling the 'Nooks blue line. 

And to my wife, thank you so much for this trip. Best birthday present a guy can ask for. 

I will post some of the amazing photos I've seen tomorrow, and will be taking a few weeks hiatus before my final write up of the season. 

From the runway in Fairbanks, GO 'NOOKS!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Fox 7 and Alumni Game

For those that didn't see my Tweet last night, GCI is having some apparent issues in their broadcast studio in Anchorage. As a result, they are unable to feed the game live to Fairbanks so Fox 7 is tape delaying the game tonight at 10PM.

Also, the UAF/UAA Alumni game will be played today at 2PM at Sullivan Arena. Free to watch, free to park. Should be a fun time swing old faces play some puck. This game rotates every year, so next year the bout will return to Fairbanks. I don't recall who won last year, but I do recall broken glass and a shootout. So there's that. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Nanooks End Seawolves Playoff Hopes with 1-0 Victory

Nanooks came out of the gates on fire, but Tad Kozun came out swinging. Literally. 8 seconds into the game he sits for a high sticking minor putting a stick up into the cage of Perry. Nothing came of the advantage but it set the tone for the Nanooks and the pace for the rest of the season. Retribution was paid though, legally as Perry put him into the bench. 

Penalties abounded though, but mostly bad ones in the offensive zone. I thought Munson had a goal, but he rang the pipe. As the penalty expired though, Krieger redirection off a Campbell pass made it through and Munson buried the rebound for the first goal of the game. 

The second period had its fair share of pleasantries as intensity continued to build. Culminating with an unfortunate hit at the hands of Hochhausen on who I thought was Anthony Conti. Might have been Kozun on second thought. Hochhausen was committed to the hit, but the UAA player turned into the boards and Hochhausen didn't let up. Unfortunate timing, but he got the gate on a major and misconduct which left about 4 and a half minutes of power play time into the 3rd period. 

The penalty kill continued to be outstanding for the Nanooks tonight into the 3rd period. Colton Parayko and the rest of the bench thought he had a shorthanded goal until the official who is right on top of the play waved off the goal because Brandon Morley was offside by a good 30 feet. The strong UAF contingent in the crowd disagreed, but it was a good call. Regardless, the fact that Parayko sent the shot from the center line and it went in, was impressive. Goalie got bailed out a bit there. 

Seawolves brought the heat in the 3rd period, I'll give them that. Including a shot off the crossbar but Cahill was up to the task. 

Great win tonight for the Nanooks as they've officially ended UAA's hopes at a playoff berth. Last year, these same two teams played the first round in Fairbanks and now both teams don't qualify. Only one of them by merit, though. Tomorrow, the Nanooks need a win and a shootout win to take the Governor's cup back home to Fairbanks. Go get it, boys. 

Game Day - Governor's Cup Thoughts

Regardless of the outcome this weekend, the Nanooks season ends after the final buzzer on Saturday night. Last season, these same two teams skated a brutal 5-games straight in Fairbanks as last year's Junior class watched their season end on home ice at the hands of their most bitter rivals. The struggle continued earlier this spring when the Seawolves won another two straight games again at the Carlson Center, giving them quite the advantage in the Governor's cup going into the final two game series as we close the season.

Flip the table around, the Nanooks now have the upper hand despite the current series record. The boys in Blue and Gold have the chance to keep ACC on the couch for playoffs themselves as the Seawolves currently sit in last place by 3 points, the only position this season that will be disqualified from playoff contention. If the Nanooks can win just one game this weekend, ACC sits at home too.

The Seapups are 1-9-0 in their last 10 games, being outscored a walloping 43-20 in that stretch. Which includes the 10-0 embarrassment at the hands of the MTU Huskies in the confines of the Sullivan arena. Prior to last week's upset over Bowling Green, the Seawolves last win(s) were in Fairbanks a midst a tough stretch for the Nanooks. Currently riding a 6 game unbeaten streak, and along side North Dakota as the only teams in college hockey to go undefeated in February, things are looking different from mid January.

But, there is still a trophy on the line here. And with nothing to lose, this is the Nanooks playoffs this weekend. This is the trophy they're striving for. And with all of the other NCAA noise that shrouds this season, this is what matters. Two wins and a skills competition later, another blue plaque gets put on that cup and our seniors get to raise the cup on Sullivan ice and graduate winners. Time to buck up and get it done, boys.

Both games this weekend are broadcast live in Fairbanks on Fox channel 7 so those of you not making the trek south are taken care of. I'm on the afternoon flight down with several others today. I've heard from quite a few people making the trip as well, should be a fun weekend.

Despite the age of this video, it still gets me pumped up. The guy who made this can't get enough credit. Thanks TB! Hopefully we can get another one this year...


Monday, March 2, 2015

Nanooks Triumph Over Adversity, Sweep Alabama-Huntsville

This weekend was an interesting road series in Huntsville, Alabama taking on the UAH Chargers for the second series of the season. A bit of a homecoming of sorts as well for former Charger and Nanooks assistant coach Lance West, who was ceremoniously introduced by his alma mater. 

But on the ice, the Nanooks had an interesting series. I was a bit surprised of the results as the Nanooks found themselves down early both nights. 

Friday night took some fight as UAH changed the tide of the game going up 1-0 on the power play with under 2 minutes to go in the first period. This power play came shortly after a man advantage opportunity for Alaska had lapsed, in which Colton Parayko had rang the post and nearly cashed in himself. A shot from the point by Carlson got through and ping ponged off of two legs down low and just sat in the crease. Tyler Morley tried to clear it but just missed the puck with his stick, but Kestner got a stick on it down low to somehow barely tip it past Cahill, who did not get his pad in place to hug the post.

That same taste of karma from the hockey gods continued into the second. In the early goings, Tyler Morley setup a good play to Parayko at the point with Perry all alone in front of the net. Guerriero had no chance of stopping that puck, but the post did, and it bounced off his back but somehow stayed out. Later on, after the Nanooks had a 3 on 1 rush that Tyler Morley and Garrick Perry nearly hooked up for the tying goal, but mistimed the pass and rand out of room. Perry had a minimal chance but it hit the outside of the cage. Seconds later Ben Reinhardt for the Chargers makes a stretch pass play again to Josh Kestner who gets a clean breakaway and made a couple of nice moves to beat Cahill on a defensive miscue for the Nanooks. 

Down 2-0 at this point, the Nanooks continue to keep coming. The shots on goal at that point were staggering a staggering 28-6 not quite at the halfway point of the game. But the flood gates opened.

Marcus Basara busted the goose egg after Peter Krieger made some nice moves behind the Charger net and getting to the slot to take the shot. The defense followed Krieger, but Basara made a quick heads up play to get to the rebound and cash in to cut the lead. Then early in the 3rd, Tyler Morley gets possessed on a shorthanded rush and speeds into the zone leaning into a defender to drive the net and just rips a backhand that was way too hot to handle to tie the game. I he got a bit fired up during the second intermission.

My favorite play of the game came off the faceoff draw on a power play as Tyler Morley won it back to Parayko, who sent it back to Morley down low below the goal line as Basara found a soft spot in the slot to get open and roofed it for the game winning goal. Sparrow would add a dash of salt in the wound on another faceoff play of his own in almost the same fashion. Sparrow won the draw back to Atkinson to get it behind the goal line. Vieth got to the puck despite two defenders giving chase, and hit Sparrow on the door step, who roofed one from point blank (again, not a rookie move) to seal the deal.

Saturday was somewhat the same story. Just a few seconds into the game, a strange shot from behind the goal line snuck between the post and the back of Cahill and trickled in the net. But Tyler Morley cashed in just past the half way point of the period. Basara made a play in the corner and the defenders collapsed on him, but Tyler Morley broke towards the net, got the puck and backhanded one five-hole to tie it up on the power play. Seemed like the coaching strategy for the game was to collapse on Basara after he burned them for two goals on Friday. Seemed that way all night, but it didn't work there..

Another power play chance presented itself, and Tyler Morley made a beautiful cross ice pass to the point to Parayko, who waited patiently for the lane to open to get a shot through, ripped it, and took the first lead of the night. The Chargers came right back though down the ice less than a minute later as Max McHugh caught Cahill sleeping. McHugh just crossed the blue line and ripped it, nobody screening him... Can't fault him for the next one though as McHugh got a stick on a puck off a shot from the point to redirect it low for the 3-2 lead 6:32 into the second period.

It stayed that way until 6.9 seconds on the clock when Trevor Campbell came through in the clutch. Again, patience for the shot to go to find the lane despite the time crunch.

The third period had exactly nothing. UAH stepped up defensively and limited the shooting lanes. Parayko had a shot at the game winner with about 2 minutes left, but rang the left goal post. But redemption came in overtime just 15 seconds in as a Charger player failed to clear the puck past the big man who one-timed it from the point, high over the goaltenders blocker. Beautiful shot.

Now the fun begins. The Nanooks have gone unbeaten in their last 6 games. Second best streak in the country with Bemidji. Now the 'Nooks have the Seawolves to contend with in Los Anchorage. After getting the sweep in our barn back in mid-January, the fugly Seawolves didn't win a single game until Saturday's fluke against Bowling Green. Revenge is a dish best served cold. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Nanooks On The Road in Huntsville

While I would say that this should be easy for the Nanooks this weekend, but its not as much as one would think. The Chargers have already swept the Seawolves and the Wildcats in Huntsville. And this series is the Chargers' final hoo-rah at home this season, so like the Nanooks' push to upset the Mavericks two weeks ago, expect the Chargers to make a similar push.

I said it earlier this year, and I'll say it again. The Chargers are very defensively oriented, they just struggle offensively. They've scored 4+ goals just twice this season. Carmine Guerrero still is no slouch either.

I'm hoping the Nanooks' effort against the Mavericks gives them some motivation to finish the season strong. I know the possibilities for a postseason run isn't there, but the Governor's Cup is still on the table.

I was hoping that the Nanooks would have been able to make a run for the WCHA regular season trophy--The MacNaughton Cup--but that has come and gone already. However, a sweep of the Seapups in Anchorage and a shootout win puts another blue plaque on the side of the trophy and keeps it in Fairbanks. Especially after last season, I would love to see that happen.

First things first though, the 'Nooks need to take care of business this weekend. The games start just after 4PM Alaska time both nights from Huntsville, Alabama.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Nanooks Finish Final Home Series Victorious

I can't say enough about the effort and the heart every Nanook player exhibited this weekend. And to our seven seniors, congratulations on getting the series win. 2-1-1 against the #1 ranked team in the country. No other team has more than one win against the Mavericks all season, though Bemidji could change that. 

Friday's game started with a series of unfortunate events allowing 2 power plays to the Mavericks early. Irregardless of what I thought of the calls, the Nanooks played tight with the disadvantage. But within seconds of getting back to full strength, the Mavericks Max Gaede popped a backhander over the glove of Cahill from in tight to get the only goal of the first. The Nanooks hand their chances, but couldn't capitalize until a power play chance of their own midway through the second on a great pass and tip to Tyler Morley from Parayko. The Nanooks continued to get chances, but Williams and the defense kept them at bay. 

The second game was one for the ages. The Mavericks didn't register a shot on goal for the first 6:33 of the game, including a power play. The Mavericks turned it on though and got some chances, though not many went through. 

But in the second they did capitalize on a power play as Palmquist's shot from the point made it through rush hour traffic and hit the back of the net. Cahill didn't have a chance at it. But Garrick Perry and his no-quit work ethic changed the tide of the game bursting out of the defensive zone on the penalty kill. He had position on his defender but didn't have a good shot. As he rushed in he smartly played it behind the net and around. The defense followed him for the wraparound and ignored Tyler Morley who creeped down through the slot and Perry left it on a platter. 

Perry wasn't done either. Kind of a broken play as the puck was wheeled around on a failed clearing attempt that Campbell corralled and have it to his defense partner Zach Frye. The freshman defenseman made a great skill play shooting intentionally wide right to the tape of a waiting Garrick Perry to tip it home with just over 2 minutes to play. 

MSU would take a timeout to plan it out, and pull Stephon Williams. The plan didn't work as Tyler Morley read the play in the neutral zone perfectly, picked it off and buried it into the empty net to seal it. 

I can't knock Stephon Williams, he's a hell of a goaltender and played a great series. But he has never defeated his hometown team. 

This may have been the final home series, but the season is not over. 4 games remain after a much needed week off. The Nanooks head to Huntsville, Alabama for a weekend date with the Chargers before finishing up the season and the Governnor's cup series in Anchorage. 

Go 'Nooks!

Weekend Promos

The Nanooks are running special promos this weekend for both admission, and a special at the pretzel stand. Be sure to check them out.

At 10AM this morning over on my Twitter feed, I will be giving away 2 tickets to Saturday's game. I'll do another round Saturday afternoon as well for another pair, so be sure to follow me for updates. Big thanks to Moda Health for sponsoring this weekend's giveaway.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Final Home Stand

This weekend means something....

Even if it doesn't mean conference points, playoff implications, PairWise rankings, or any of that other crap, it means something more than just another series. For seven seniors, this will be their last hoorah as a college athlete. For these seven seniors, this is about taking down the #1 team in the country in front of our own fans.

But the memories our guys choose to create this weekend look to be positive. But how can they not be, now that Justin Woods has completed his treatment? Not only that, but today (2/12) is his birthday! I'm tremendously proud of our community for raising so much for Justin. Nearly $90,000 total between the GoFundMe campaign, and the silent auction during the first set of Governor's Cup games and at the Ice Dogs series. I know it can't be close to covering the costs of his treatment, but I hope it has helped him and his family get through this difficult time.

The Nanooks have already done what no other WCHA team has done, beating the Mavericks in Mankato. Something only four other teams in the country have done on any ice. At 23-5-1, the Mavericks have the best record and the top ranked team in all of college hockey.

I could go on and on about their players, record, offensive and defensive prowess. But that means nothing to me. They're not invincible. They play a sound game, and typically mistake-free. If that can be countered with equal caliber play and motivation, this is going to be a great series. It really comes down to that, nothing more.

On a side note, Fairbanks native Stephon Williams returns home in his junior season stopping pucks for MSU, but has never played a collegiate game on the Carlson Center ice. Nor has he ever beaten the Nanooks. He's been a perennial starter all season long, but Austin Vieth bagged the OT winner on Friday, and he was pulled on Saturday after allowing 2 goals on 8 shots through two periods on Saturday. Last season, Cole Huggins played every second of the series split in Fairbanks between the pipes. Stephon played on the state championship winning Lathrop team with Alec Hajdukovich and Tayler Munson years ago. Tayler had 3 points during that Friday night win earlier this year as well. Maybe they have him figured out? Maybe its about teaching him a lesson that he shouldn't have left.

To our seven seniors--Justin Tateson, Trevor Campbell, Garrick Perry, Sean Cahill, Nolan Youngmun, Jared Larson, and Nolan Kaiser--it's been nothing short of a pleasure watching and getting to know you guys over the past four years. The end of this season won't be the last time I'll be writing your name or mentioning you on the blog, either. This is a big weekend for you guys. For me, it feels like last year was your first year here, but it's already over? Your time here goes fast. I'm proud to see the effort all of you have put in to the program. This weekend is about celebrating you guys, so please enjoy it. And even though you'll take off the home whites for the last time, that Nanook crest lives on with you. You'll always be a Nanook!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Home Sweep - Nanooks Dispatch Lakers to End Losing Skid

The Nanooks haven't looked good for an entire game for a while. To be honest, they had Michigan Tech on the ropes both nights and let them crawl back in after letting off the gas in the 3rd. Against Anchorage, the Nanooks struggled to score despite controlling the play for the better part of the latter two periods both nights. Obviously that 2nd game against Bowling Green is trying.

But this weekend was a bit different. The Nanooks seemed to struggle to score offensively, but they brought it for 120 minutes this weekend. Saturday, the Lakers notched 10 shots to the Nanooks 13, but the 'Nooks started rolling their own version of keep away for the 2nd, outshooting them 20-3.

The offensive generation was there, chances abounded but they didn't end up in the back of the net. Give their goalie credit, but with 44 shots on goal and only 2 hit the back of the net, something is amiss. 

Friday Highlights

Saturday Highlights

Coming Soon

Some performances from this weekend that stood out though by some of our players have to be mentioned. Nick Hinz is playing like he's ready to be a starter. He got the nod on Saturday deservingly. Trevor Campbell had a fantastic weekend on both sides of the ice, as did Zach Frye. Frye had a bit of a scare blocking a shot to the stomach Friday night. Certainly didn't look like it felt good, but he was back out there. Didn't miss a shift on Satuday. But after last weekend, I was hoping to see our defensemen step up and they did.

Offensively, outside of the top line Shawn Hochhausen had a great weekend. He had his efforts rewarded with a goal Saturday, but he's been consistently in the lineup because of his offensive tenacity. The guy just keeps going after it and getting it done. Josh Erickson continues to play like the needle on his speedometer is pegged with the throttle wide open every shift. Nobody outhustles him, and its very apparent when he's out there (good or bad). But my player of the weekend has to go to Garrick Perry. He wins battles getting to the dirty areas, disrupting offensive plays, creating breakaways and odd-man advantages, and continues to be a machine.

This weekend though is a tune up series. Stephon Williams and the #1 ranked Minnesota State makes the long trek up here next weekend, which kicks off Hockey Week in Fairbanks. They pasted Anchorage this weekend, in sounding fashion. That is going to be a series to watch with the seniors playing their final series in the Carlson Center for the season.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Seeking Vengeance In Houghton

The Nanooks longest roadie of the year comes after a heartbreaking sweep at the hands of the Seawolves on home ice. It's a tough one to swallow for the players, perhaps just as tough for the fans. For those that know me, I'm also a Packers fan and after that brutal last 3 minutes of Sunday's game against Seattle, that weekend was very painful. 

But, as captain Colton Parayko stated during Saturday's post game press conference, you can't look at what's behind you. You have to keep the truck pointed forward and focus on what's in front of you. Pretty wise words for a 21 year old...

But the Nanooks have made it to Houghton, Michigan with the goal of taking down Michigan Tech. At 16-7-1, that's no small task. But with a 9-1-1 record away from the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena, that leaves a 6-5-0 record at home (1-1-0 in neutral site games). That hot 10-0-0 record to start the season was tops in the country for a while until Mankato came to town to change all of that. Sweeping the #1 Huskies at the time seemed impossible with the run they were on. But they had played a long stretch of road games early in the season. Now in a swing of 8 straight home games, the Huskies look to change the tide on home ice. 

But the Nanooks have something to say about that. The guys seem refocused and ready to go. Should be a good series. I'm expecting a split. 

Unfortunately though, yours truly will not be able to watch the games this weekend. When I get back to Fairbanks on Monday, I will watch the recap games and break it down. 

Until then, Go 'Nooks!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Good News and Bad News

As usual, might as well start with the bad news. The Nanooks lost. Twice. To the Seawolves.

All I can say is "Ugh...". I had another diatribe written, but the only explanation I can give for only scoring 3 goals on some 90 shots on goal for the weekend is their goalie. Mantha stepped up and got it done all weekend. And rightly was named the rookie of the week for the WCHA. Despite the penalty situation Friday, the Nanooks had their fair share of power play chances on Saturday but just didn't execute. The Nanooks offense has been quite steady, but Matt Thomas and the Seawolves had their number this weekend and while the Seawolves weren't defensively amazing by any standards, they held the 'Nooks offense to the outside for most of the night and when the 'Nooks did get pucks inside, they lacked the confidence to make the timely play.

Seemed like the Nanooks were ringing the iron all night long too. I didn't see the official stats on that one, but I unofficially counted 4. Someone else said 5. Either way, those 2 3/8" bars seemed a lot bigger Saturday.

Anyway, on to the good news. As I mentioned Thursday, there was a silent auction benefitting Justin Woods in the rink this weekend. Well over 100 items were donated. Everything from gift certificates and items from local businesses to a size 32 Reebok signed by Shaq. Jerseys from a myriad of NHL clubs and former Nanook players. Framed photos, posters, and over 100 items sold.

Justin also recorded a video that was played in the Carlson Center this weekend reporting that he had just two treatments left and hopefully will be cancer free and back in Fairbanks by the end of February. A phenomenal proclamation. But spending nearly a year in Seattle undergoing expensive treatment has been assumably financially exhausting.

After the weekend was over, $25,650 was raised for Justin and his family to help offset some of his medical expenses. Which brings the total to just shy of $70,000 total since Justin began treatment. And for those of you who weren't able to make it to Fairbanks this weekend, Justin's GoFundMe page is still open accepting donations 

As for Justin's Nanooks, they head out for Houghton, Michigan to take on the Michigan Tech team that has also been struggling as of late with just one win in their last 5. Including a 47-save shutout for Joel Rumpel at Wisconsin. But with the Huskies playing their 3rd and 4th games of their 6 game home stand this coming weekend, so expect them to be fresh.

Until then. Go 'Nooks!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Officials Take Away More Than a Chance to Win the Game

I'm pretty certain there was a hockey game going on, but 91 minutes in penalties is absolutely ridiculous. What was being called by the men in stripes stuns me. There are calls you agree and disagree with every game, but if you're going to call the game THAT tight, it has to go both ways. And to swallow the whistles in the 3rd period until it gets down to the wire and the Nanooks start to get a push. That's just wrong.

It all starts in the 1st period. Nanooks control the pace of the game, get five shots on net, with two realistic scoring chances. Austin Sevalrud gets a hooking call with Nolan Youngmun breaking to the net. Good call. He gets out of the box, then Erickson gets tossed for five and a game with contact to the head, which doesn't make sense as he hit Brad Duwe, who is six inches taller than he is.

Doesn't take long, UAA pops one in, goes up a goal. Major penalty clock still ticking down. Azurdia for UAA pops another one in. But it goes under review and they see Anthony Conti backing into the goaltender and overturn the goal. Could have gone either way, honestly. Cameron bags the game winner on a separate power play with Parayko in the box for a questionable elbow. Again though, could have gone either way.

2nd period was pretty well controlled by the Nanooks. I thought they had good momentum at the end of the period, and obviously that power play goal from Kaiser was a huge one. They had Azurdia in the box for trying to cut the legs off of Hajdukovich with his stick. The officials chatted about it for a few seconds, but stuck with the minor.

I thought the game had swung for the better in the 3rd period. Officials were seemingly letting them play. Even going so far as to overlook Dylan Hubbs literally throwing jabs at Basara's head. Not a single penalty was called either way until after the Nanooks call timeout and pull their goaltender down by 1 with 87 seconds to play. Then Colton Parayko outworks his man at the half-wall near the bench area, goes low to extend his reach to make sure the forward doesn't have an angle on the empty net, and he gets called for a trip. Seconds later, the same official calls Atkinson for an extremely weak cross-check.

Now the wheels start to come off the bus. You've got UAA on a 5 on 3 power play now. The official Chris Perrault lets this game get completely out of hand from this point forward. He doesn't acknowledge the Nanooks' bench for an explanation. And now essentially with the game won, UAA starts the chirping. Shoves, grabbing, yelling, etc. all going on. And everything appears to be the Nanooks' fault. Only the Nanooks were assessed penalties in the 3rd.

After one such whistle, Perrault tosses Tyler Morley and Trevor Campbell with 10 minute misconducts and minors for slashing. Nolan Kaiser takes exception, and literally delivers one of the hardest hits I've seen. Completely uncharacteristic of him, but he gets pulled away and given a major and game DQ, which carries an automatic one game suspension with it. Quite honestly I will not be surprised if he gets more than just one. Zach Frye also got the gate for roughing on the same play.

The Nanooks came unglued at the end. No question about it. But the officials called the final 90 seconds of the game unfairly. There is no other way to put it. Chris Perrault has been in this situation before. In fact, he alienated Cornell from ever playing a WCHA school again after 76 minutes in penalties were assessed in game 2 of a series against Denver, in which the Big Red were swept and calls stacked up against them. Mike Shafer, Cornell's head coach had interesting comments similar to my thoughts on this same individual that officiated tonight. It's sad when officiating like that takes the chances away from these young men to win a rivalry game in the waning at home in front of a packed house.

I honestly feel sorry for those that paid their hard earned money to watch tonight's game. It's unfortunate to see this happen.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Governor's Cup Stage Set in Fairbanks

This isn't going anywhere. Credit @AKHockeyEquip
This is a big one folks. It's not like this is just another conference series, its the Governor's Cup. The series that needs no introduction. I hate to bring up the sanctions, but with no postseason this year this is the Nanooks' seniors last hardware to claim save for the potential regular season championship trophy. There are quite a few seniors this year that would love to destroy their in-state rivals. And with all of the Fairbanks locals on this team, it means a lot to them.

As a team, the Nanooks didn't have a great road series against Bowling Green. They know they lost to a good team on the road, and let a win slip through their grasp. This week is about redemption. I could go on and on about stats, essentially that the Nanooks are better in nearly every facet of the game. But it doesn't matter. Rivalries send all of the stats out the window, and they don't matter.

Realistically, the only thing I see as a potential issue for Anchorage is their special teams. They're 2nd most in the country in penalty minutes per game, but their penalty kill is a little worse for the wear. 35th in the country at only 81.6%. With all of the energy this game brings, special teams is going to be a key factor for the Nanooks. They're going to get chances on the power play and they need to execute. Simple as that.

On the personnel side, Kyle Froese is injured but other than that all of the guys are healthy. Sean Cahill is reported to start between the pipes tonight for the 'Nooks.

The guys tonight are also wearing throwback jerseys to honor the 1970's era of Nanook hockey during the team's club days. I think they look pretty good, although there are mixed opinions.

The jerseys are provided as a fundraising opportunity for the Nanook Hockey Alumni. They enrich the heritage of Nanook Hockey and raise money to support the team. For those unaware, the new banners throughout the Carlson Center were created and donated by the Alumni as well.

These jerseys will be auctioned off online after the series is over. And the silent auction is going on at the Carlson Center this weekend too. Get there early, register as a bidder and get your number and put your names down on some items to help raise money for Justin Woods and his family.

See you at the rink tonight! Go 'Nooks!

Silent Auction Benefitting Justin Woods this Weekend

There is a Facebook group - Silent Auction/Fundraiser for Justin Woods

Photos of all of the items are on that Facebook page. There are artist used guitars, several signed jerseys from NHL teams and players (both UAA and UAF alums), a shoe worn by Shaq in one of the NBA championship games and signed (freakin' huge), as well as several gift cards for various restaurants and businesses around the state.

Justin has been in constant care at the Seattle Children's Hospital. As you can imagine, treatments and everything has amassed a large financial burden on his family. Thanks in advance to everyone who can help out and enjoy some of these items and supporting a good kid and a great family.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Third Period Struggles Give Alaska a 1 Point Road Trip

Tough road weekend for the Nanooks on the road at Bowling Green. Getting throttled in the final stanza of both games and return home getting just one point in the standings, despite a 3 goal lead going into the final period of Saturday's game. Friday was quite close, until the Falcons capitalized on a couple critical Nanook miscues. How did it all happen? Read on.

The Nanooks played two good periods of hockey on Friday, but towards the end of the second, the Falcons started to pull momentum away. Then in the 3rd period, it was all Bowling Green. Davis Jones and Kyle Froese misplayed the offensive play as Adam Berkle peeled around the net. Jones overcommitted as Froese backed off Berkle and left Brent Tate all alone coming down from the slot who had a wide open net to shoot it in.

Then Zach Frye with a critical rookie mistake, allowing Kevin Dufour to force the turnover deep in the defensive zone gives a golden chance to Mercier who hit the post, but Pohlkamp cashes in. Then a late goal to Adam Berkle sealed the Nanooks' fate Friday night.

Saturday night was just a roller coaster of epic proportions. The Falcons came out swinging, outshooting the Nanooks 10-1 early in the first period, but the Nanooks' second shot on goal, a beautiful showing of stick handling along the goal line to get away from two defenders, then going forehand to the backhand to beat Tomas Sholl 5-hole to get the Nanooks on the board first.

Then just four minutes later, Zach Frye catches a turnover caused by Hajdukovich and takes his chances wide open from the point and lays it on the left pad of Sholl, and bounces to the half wall to a perched Trevor Campbell who lays into the shot catching Sholl by surprise to give the Nanooks a 2-0 lead.

Then the penalty trouble starts to settle in for the Nanooks. Seemed like time after time from this point forward, the Nanooks would sit two minutes for this or that. It got old pretty quick. Most of it was warranted, but a lot of it was a lack of discipline. I understand the part of playing aggressive, but that was a bit excessive for me. Through this stretch, the Nanooks surrendered seven power plays before getting their first late in the second. Nanooks also gave up two extended 5 on 3 chances, the first of which in the first with the Morley brothers sitting for back to back infractions.

Sean Walker would capitalize on that chance on a shot from the low point to the top of the faceoff circle through some thick traffic to close the lead to one. But the Nanooks answered quickly as Tyler Morley picked off a clearing attempt by the Tomas Sholl at the half wall, whipped around and threw it to the net for his second goal of the night and regained the two goal lead... Or so we all thought...

Turns out Sholl got a little overanxious after he realized he had given the puck away and collided with the post. Thee net frame comes off the ice just enough for the puck to slide just inside the mooring under the frame before it went in the back of the net. The officials caught it, reviewed it, and quickly overturned it. Would have been huge with a 3-1 lead going into the locker room, but the Nanooks would stay at two.

Until just over four minutes into the 2nd as the quick stick of Shawn Hochhausen gets Friedman off the puck. Friedman tries holding Hawk up, but the sophomore center backhanded it through the 5-hole of Tommy Burke, who replaced Sholl late in the 1st. The Nanooks would go on to surrender another 5 on 3 power play to Bowling Green a bit later as Marcus Basara gets nabbed for high sticking, quickly followed by an interference call to Brandon Morley. But one of my favorite plays of the year ensues, as Tyler Morley forces a turnover right as Basara breaks free of the penalty box, comes in all alone. Basara gets the shot on goal, just doesn't get it quite high enough as he was late getting the shot off, but the puck hops up in the air off the pad, and Basara sticks with it right there to bat the puck in for the Nanooks first shorthanded goal of the season, and the Nanooks get a 4-1 lead. But despite an extended power play, the 4-1 score would stick through 40 minutes.

With a three goal lead, have to figure that the Nanooks have a pretty good bead on handing the Falcons their first loss at home since mid-November. But for the second straight night, the Nanooks surrender three goals in the 3rd period. The first one, Sean Walker's second goal of the game, sets everything in motion. At that point of the period (9:10 in, the Nanooks were outshooting the Falcons 7-1. After the goal was scored on their second shot of the period, the Falcons turned up the heat. Outshooting the A-Team 12-5 through the end of the frame.

But the last minute of the game was thrilling as a hockey fan, but immensely disappointing as a Nanooks' fan. Two goals given up in a span of 24 seconds to the same guy. Ben Murphy, the same guy that set up the game winning goal for the Falcons in their second game in Fairbanks back in early November. Both goals for Murphy came from pretty much the same place. The first one in all honesty could have been waved off with a BG forward in the crease. But it goes over the left shoulder of Jones from a shot he couldn't see. The second goal is one that may haunt Tyler Morley for at least the plane ride home. On an extended shift, the junior alternate captain attempted the clear the puck, but didn't get enough under it and Murphy was able to glove it down and beat Jones glove side to tie the game.

It's a rough weekend for the Nanooks on the road. I thought they played well enough to win Saturday despite all of the penalty trouble. But I didn't think the Tyler Morley line should have been on the ice after BG's 3rd goal was scored. They were clearly gassed. Can't say I've been disappointed in a tie before, but after leading 4-1 going into the 3rd period a tie was not what I was expecting... Give BG credit, they're not the 4th (now 5th) team in the country by the PairWise for nothing. They play very aggressive and swarm the puck carrier. They also can spread a defense out by creating passing lanes across the ice and connecting.

I did find it awesome though that the BGSU Pep Band would--after seemingly every big play for Alaska--would play the theme of the A-Team. Nice touch.

But with 1 point coming back to Fairbanks, the Nanooks will welcome the Seawolves to town for the first pair of games in the Governor's Cup series. The Seawolves come in with just one win in their last 13 games, and have not won a road game at all this season. The game against Air Force in the Kendall Classic is their lone win away from the confines of Sullivan Arena all season. Should be a good one.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Nanooks Earn Series Sweep of Ferris State

Ferris State Goaltender C.J. Motte after Saturday's loss
Gotta love some "Motte's" applesauce! CJ Motte was exposed yet again between the pipes in Fairbanks as the Nanooks rolled 8 goals on the senior on 71 shots through the weekend. Good offensive showing for the Nanooks, but the Bulldogs did not play a very good defensive game. The Bulldogs play very aggressive, and the Nanooks played a strong enough possession game and had the speed on the big ice to expose them. Friday seemed like it took a bit of time for the Nanooks to get their wits and get their passing game together. It started to come back in the 3rd period pretty quick and guys were making plays. Defensively, the Nanooks clamped down on Ferris State pretty hard. Their only goal, scored on the power play, was off a deflection in front of the goal by a Nanook defensemen. The puck would have went wide, but it slowed down enough in flight and found a Bulldog forward's stick, then the back of the net. From there, the Nanooks bagged 8 unanswered goals through the weekend and controlled play.

The highlights can speak for themselves to the scoring.

For those that watched the game, what is up with C.J. Motte? Seriously? That's the second time on our ice that he's come 40+ feet out of his crease to take out Garrick Perry. You can see the best angle of it in Joe Cook's KTVF highlights -- I even linked it right to the time that the play starts. Garrick comes up the ice on a turnover by the defenseman at the blue line. Perry streaks ahead and gets clocked by C.J. Motte trying to make a play. Feel free to slow that down (YouTube is awesome for that) and tell me if you see Perry ever make contact with an elbow. Perry made every effort to be cautious with the circumstances, and the puck is still at his feet at the time of the collision. How the official calls elbowing is beyond me. Anyone care to enlighten me? I know goalie safety is an issue, but he's not a goalie at the point. He forfeits all goalie protections at that point in the eyes of the rulebook. But hey, if he wants to end his career prematurely that's one way to go about it. One of these days someone that doesn't like him very much is going to see him coming when he pulls another stunt like that.

A strong defensive effort this weekend from the Nanooks. After shaking the rust off, they played complete games. It's going to be a really good series in Bowling Green. I'm looking forward to it.