Hockey splits with Spartans to end conference play
Feb. 22, 2011
Feb. 18 and 19 marked the last CCHA hockey series of the season for the Nanooks. Alaska took on Michigan State, and both teams hit the ice ready to perform.
“They’re a good team and it’s going to be a battle this weekend,” said freshman Michael Quinn. “Both teams want to go into playoffs on a good note.”
The Nanooks split the series with the Spartans: Alaska won Friday’s game 4-1, and Michigan State won Saturday’s game 6-2.
“We need a good first period,” said junior Ron Meyers before Friday’s game. “We need to get that first goal and keep pressing from there.”
That’s exactly how the Nanooks played on Friday. Junior Carlo Finucci started the night with a goal in the first period. Former Spartan sophomore Adam Henderson was “a little nervous” about playing his old team, since he is still friends with some of his old teammates, but he showed no hesitations when he and junior Scott Enders provided assists to Finucci’s goal.
Alaska dominated the period, keeping the puck in the offensive zone and outshooting Michigan State 13-4. In the second period, the Spartans came out with a renewed energy, but the Nanook defense was unrelenting and kept the Spartans scoreless. The third period saw a power-play goal by sophomore Andy Taranto, followed by back-to-back goals by Enders. His second goal came straight off of junior Justin Filzen’s faceoff draw.
“It was a nice faceoff by Filzen,” Enders said. “I just put it on net and luckily, the goalie got screened… The puck had eyes.”
Michigan State managed a lone goal with 1:32 left in the game, taking away a shut-out opportunity for goalie Scott Greenham.
“All the d-men stepped up today; we had a pretty good game defensively,” Enders said. “As a unit as a whole, we played pretty well.”
Unfortunately, Saturday was a completely different game. The Spartans took control early, scoring their first goal 1:12 into the night. A few minutes later, Taranto brought the score to a tie. Before the first period was over, Henderson picked up a 2-minute penalty for hooking. Michigan State took advantage of the power play and picked up another goal. The Spartans added a third goal to their tally in the second period. In the final period, Michigan State’s Mike Merrifield had a breakaway and slipped the puck past Greenham. Thirty seconds later, Taranto kept the Nanooks’ hopes afloat with his second goal of the night, but the Spartans would capture two more goals before the game was over.
“They limited us in scoring chances,” said head coach Dallas Ferguson. “We couldn’t find anything to get our energy going. We left Greener [Greenham] out to dry a little bit.”
“We knew they were going to play hard,” said captain senior Kevin Petovello. “You can sugarcoat it all you want, but we didn’t play our best.”
Next up for the Nanooks is the Governor’s Cup series against the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves on Feb 25 and 26. Game one will be played at the Carlson Center here in Fairbanks, and game two will at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
Even though the Nanooks are having an “up and down” season, “when we’re on our up, we can beat anybody,” Meyers said.