This weekend, the Wolverines head to the Final Frontier to take on the Alaska Nanooks up in Fairbanks. There's no TV for either game but they will both be available on the B2 Network for 7 or 8 bucks apiece.
1) Alaska comes into this weekend at 4-3-0 overall and 2-2-0-0 in the CCHA. They're 2-2-0 at home. They beat UConn, Mercyhurst, BGSU and Miami, tied surprising Northeastern (and beat them in a shootout, not that it mattered one iota since it wasn't a conference game), and lost to Miami, BGSU, and Maine. What's kind of whacked out is that 3 of their 4 wins have come via shutout, and all three of their losses have come via shutout. They also shut out the NTDP, though that doesn't count on the record, obviously.
2) Ocho Cinco has played six of the eight games in net for UA, sporting a 2-3-1 record with a sparkling 1.82 goals against and a .926 save percentage. Last year he won as many games as I did (0-6-0 in seven appearances). Freshman Scott Greenham has played two games, winning both while allowing 0 goals in the process. Ocho Cinco has played five games in a row, however.
3) Braden Walls leads the team with 4 goals thusfar. Dion Knelsen is the leading point man with a 3-4--7 line in 8 games. The two of them each have two game-winners. Only eight guys have scored goals, but six of them have multiple goals. No defensemen have put the puck in the net, and they've gotten just six points from their blueline this year.
4) Joe Sova was a teammate of Max Pacioretty's with Sioux City of the USHL. Dustin Molle wins the "Dude, Get a Job" award. He has junior eligibility, but check out the list of guys that he played with in the USHL: Joe Pavelski, Jordan Parise, and Jeff Jakaitis. He also transferred from UAA, which is worse than what Bryan Lerg did. His younger brother plays for UA as well. Knelsen also has a brother on the team.
5) The Nanook offense ranks #43 in the country, scoring just 2.12 goals per game, though that puts them ahead of Northern Michigan and Michigan State (1.88 goals per game, holy crap). Their defense, however, is #4 in the country, allowing 1.38 goals a night. UMass-Lowell is the only team ahead of them that has played more than a couple games.
6) As expected given the offensive and defensive numbers, the power play is ugly and the PK is very good. They're converting on just 5.8% of their PP opportunities, which is 54th out of 57 teams. It's just 3.8% if you factor in the SHG they allowed. They're #7 on the PK at 93% (and they're 95.3% in net penalty killing). In eight games, they've scored 4 and allowed 4 on the special teams. By comparison, we've scored 10 and allowed 11. Alaska is only averaging 12 penalty minutes a night.
7) Their nine freshmen skaters have combined for just a 2-2--4 line in 49 man games played.
8) Michigan leads the all-time series 35-6-0. What I get out of that is that the teams have never tied in 41 games played. They've actually never even gone to overtime, which I think is kind of remarkable. There have only been four one-goal games, in which Michigan is 4-0. Michigan has won 4 in a row overall and are 15-3-0 on trips up to Alaska.
9) Tim Miller leads all Wolverines with a 2-7--9 line in 8 career games against Alaska. Turnbull has six points in eight games and Naurato has six points in seven. Palushaj, Langlais and Rust average a point per game against the Nanooks.
10) Bryan Hogan has never faced UA while Billy Sauer is 5-2 with a 2.02/.919. He's 2-1 in Alaska with less-good numbers (2.69/.909). He was strong in his last trip to Alaska, going 2-0 and giving up 2 goals each night, while making 61 saves on the weekend.
MGoBlog has lotsa comments about the OSU weekend. He too was impressed with Pateryn and also made mention of a hilarious new chant by the Yosties (even if we may have kind-of-sort-of ripped it off from BU, according to the comments).
Hagelin was practicing as the third-line center this week. All offseason we were geeked about the prospect of Hagelin playing center. It's not as fun that he's on the third line, but hopefully this will further balance our scoring. This is the time of the year where it's good to try different things and see if you can hit on a pair/trio that has great chemistry together. One thing is for certain: Whoever Aaron Palushaj is playing with? They have chemistry.
Louie Caporusso credits watching film of Chad Kolarik as a reason for his high goal total early in the season. "I just figured out that you need to shoot the puck in order to score." I'll say. Caporusso put just 55 shots on net last season, or 1.66 a game. This year, he has a team leading 25 shots on goal, good for just over 3 per game.
The Daily also had features about the improved play of Yost Built-favorite Tristin Llewellyn and the resurgence of the GWG-machine, Tim Miller.
Aaron Palushaj was named CCHA Player of the Month, thanks to his 6-6--12 line through 7 games and +8 rating. He has points in seven of our eight games.
Apparently USA Hockey's WJC games will be aired on the NHL Network. Enjoy watching half of the Wolverines' roster take on the world! I gotta admit, I'm a big fan of the NHLN airing things other than NHL games. The agreement to air college hockey games is fantastic and it's a big bonus that we're getting WJC coverage as well.