Women's hockey club comes up short against Blue Devils, Blue Hens

Kyle Evans/ Sun Star Contributor
March 27, 2012

Photo courtesy of the Alaska Nanook Women's Hockey Facebook page

The Alaska Nanooks Women’s Hockey Club came up short in the National Championship game, losing to Wisconsin-Stout University Blue Devils 5-2 over the weekend of March 10-12.

Alaska advanced to the American Collegiate Hockey Association Women’s Division 2 National Hockey Championships as one of six teams. The teams were divided into two pools. The teams in pool A were the University of Delaware, Rainy River Community College from International Falls, Minn., and Alaska. Pool B had the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Slippery Rock University, and California University of Pennsylvania. The top two teams in each pool advanced to the semi-finals, with the winner advancing to the finals.

Having 10 players and a goalie, the Nanooks fell behind early in the first period when Wisconsin forward Kasey Bloomberg skated passed the Alaska defensemen and shot the puck on the goalie. Before the period was up, Nanook forward Sarah-Belle Srebernak passed the puck to defenseman Lauren Bradley who shot the puck from the point to the back of the net. The second period proved disastrous for the Nanooks as the Blue Devils scored three unanswered goals.

“We had a tough second period and they took advantage,” club head coach Scott Vockeroth said.  Alaska would pull within two points  in the third period when Nanook forward Rackell Kowalchuk scored with an assist going to forward Shawna Jusczak. Wisconsin-Stout finished the scoring with Bloomberg completing her hat trick ending the game at 5-2, favoring the Blue Devils. “To get so far, and be so close to the ultimate goal only to come up a little short is devastating,” Vockeroth wrote on the Alaska Nanook Women’s hockey web page.

The Nanooks Women’s hockey team entered the Division 2 playoffs in Wooster, Ohio, ranked third in the western conference with a 6-1-0-1 record. Alaska brought 11 players and a goalie to the tournament. Before the tournament began, Nanook defenseman and captain Kayla Fulk found out she had a broken foot, ruling her out for at least the first game of the tournament.

Alaska fell 2-0 to the University of Delaware Blue Hens during the weekend. The eastern conference champion Blue Hens finished the regular season with an undefeated record of 12-0-1. The game opened with a defensive battle that saw few shots on goal in the first period. Delaware got the first goal when forward Katherine Horn passed the puck to forward Jamie Moelis who slipped the puck by the Nanook goalie Katrina Lydon in the second period. The Hens scored again six minutes later as defenseman Mari O’Leary shot the puck from the point, which shot past the screened goaltender and into the back of the net.

Photo courtesy of the Alaska Nanook Women's Hockey Facebook page

In the third period the Nanooks tried to get back in the game with a five-on-three power play for a minute and 14 seconds halfway through the third, but were unable to capitalize despite out shooting the Hens 18-4 in the third period. “We had excellent puck movement, just couldn’t put the puck in the net,” Vockeroth said. Alaska outshot the Blue Hens almost 3-1 in the game. Delaware goaltender Brie Scolaro stopped all 30 Nanook shots. “She played well,” Vockeroth said. The injury to Fulk caused some shifting of positions that saw forward Linda Evans move to defense.

In their second game of the night, the Nanooks faced off against the Voyageurs of Rainy River Community College. The Voyageurs were the defending national champions and had won the national title three of the last four years. Rainy River finished the regular season with a 9-1-3-1 record. The Nanooks split with Rainy River earlier in the regular season losing the first game 2-1 in overtime and winning 1-0 the second night. Kayla Fulk suited up and played for the Nanooks despite the broken foot. “It felt better than I expected, but got worse as the game went on,” Fulk said. The team earned a 3-0 win over the Voyageurs.

“Kayla was an inspiration to us,”Alaska goalie Katrina Lydon said. Shawna Jusczak gave the Nanooks the lead with an assist from forward Nicole Farnham in the second period. The assist would be one of Farnham’s last contributions to the team as she left the game with a concussion. Alaska extended the lead when Rackell Kowalchuk added a power-play goal with an assist to defenseman Brita Irving. Linda Evans, who would move back to forward due to the injury to Farnham, put the game away with an empty net goal to ensure the Nanooks 3-0 win. Katrina Lydon stopped all 23 Voyageurs shots en route to the shutout. “I saw the puck pretty well,” Lydon said.

Kowalchuk’s four goals lifted the Nanooks to a 5-1 semi-final victory over the No. 2 seed in pool B Slippery Rock University.  Linda Evans also scored for the Nanooks. Wisconsin-Stout, which beat Delaware 4-0 in the second semi-final game, also advances to the finals.

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