Hockey suffers in shootout, wipeout against RedHawks

By Tom Hewitt
Sun Star Reporter

The Nanooks lost both games of last weekend’s home series against Miami University of Ohio, as an aggressive, physical RedHawk squad ground down Alaska’s defense and frustrated their offense.

Friday’s game started promisingly for the Nanooks. Defenseman Aaron Gens established an early lead for the team, scoring a power play goal in the first period. RedHawk center Pat Cannone fired back for Miami in the second, tying the game. The game remained tied through the end of regulation, but Alaska fell in an overtime shootout when Miami senior wing Jarod Palmer rifled a high shot past Alaska goaltender Scott Greenham.

While Friday’s game was a heartbreaker, Saturday’s was a massacre. Miami rocked the usually reliable Greenham for three goals in the first period before Coach Dallas Ferguson switched him out for freshman Steve Thompson. Though Thompson put in a solid effort for the remainder of the game, the RedHawks lit the lamp twice more to cap a 5-0 shutout.

After Saturday’s game, Coach Ferguson didn’t mince words. “Everyone’s disappointed… Tonight was one of those times where this is [our] time to step up and take advantage, and obviously we didn’t. Give Miami credit, though. There’s a reason they’re undefeated on the road, and there’s a reason they’re number two in the country. They showed it tonight. They out-competed us in pretty much every facet of the game – along the walls, in the net, puck possession, whatever it was.”

The game was marked both by Miami’s dominance of the puck and their physical play. The RedHawks pushed, prodded, and checked the Nanooks all night, drawing a vocal response from the Carlson Center crowd and eventually a physical one from the Alaska squad. The Nanooks, who previously enjoyed the lowest average penalty minutes at nine and a half per game, racked up a full half hour in the box on Saturday as the players grew frustrated with the RedHawks’ relentless attacks. “That’s one of the things I’m most disappointed in,” Ferguson said. “It doesn’t make sense to play like that… it’s embarrassing to me that they would go out and conduct themselves that way.”

Although there were few high points in the game for the Nanooks, Thompson’s performance in the net got Ferguson’s attention. “[Thompson] did it again,” he said. “I mean, he’s going to get a start next weekend. I can put that in the books. He worked hard and competed hard tonight. He’s earning an opportunity.”

Alaska was ranked 21st nationally coming into the series, but their two losses mean the team will likely sink further when new polls come out this week. Perhaps more importantly, the Nanooks have now fallen to 5th place in the CCHA, which would mean the team would not qualify for a first-round bye in the playoffs if the season were to end today.

The Nanooks are on the road this week in a series at Northern Michigan, but will return to the Carlson Center February 5 and 6 to host Michigan State.

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