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.