The Wolverines leave the lower-48 to open the season this weekend. Friday night's game is against the Alaska Nanooks. That game will start at 9:07 ET. There is no streaming video for that one. Michigan will finish the weekend against WCHA-foe Alaska-Anchorage with a game at 11:07 ET Saturday. MGoBlue indicates there may be streaming video at www.goseawolves.com
Here are 10 things to know about the Kendall Hockey Classic.
1) Alaska won their only exhibition game by a 6-1 score over Southern Alberta IT. I think Minnesota scheduled them in football next year. Scott Greenham stopped 21 shots as he tries to take over for Hobey-finalist Chad Ochocinco. Greenham is a sophomore who played in five games last year and was 3-0-1 with a 1.02/.958. He shut out UConn and Mercyhurst, gave up one goal on 32 shots against FYS, and gave up a pair of goals against NMU and OSU. It sounds like the Nanooks will probably be in good hands in net once again.
2) Alaska returns eight of their top ten scorers, including their leading scorer--senior Dion Knelsen, who had 10-12--22 a year ago. Brother Brandon had 4-10--14 a year ago, but had three assists in their exhibition win. There are a pair of Molle's on the blueline. Both Dustin and Bryant saw action in 39 games last year. They lost both players that had more than two game-winners a year ago. 4 out of Ryan Hohl's eight goals last year were on the power play. Hohl is a transfer from Bowling Green, who is one of the many players to come out of Northville, MI.
3) Freshman Jarret Granberg is a little waterbug who was co-MVP of the AJHL last year, with a 42-44--86 line and 15 on the power play. Another freshman, Justin Daigle, is a puck-moving defenseman (15-39--54 in 57 games). He was the top-scoring defenseman in the AJHL.
4) Alaska was picked 6th and 7th in the two preseason polls. Coach Dallas Ferguson, in his second year, is 1-2-0 against Michigan. Despite a very solid record last season, the Nanooks were shut out on eleven occasions. They shut their opponents out eight times. Michigan leads the all-time series 37-7-0. How have we never tied?
5) Dion Knelsen has 4 goals in 7 games against the Wolverines. Ohio State is the only "school" he has scored more goals against. Defenseman Scott Enders had a pair of goals in the three games against the Wolverines a year ago. He only had three goals total in his freshman year.
6) The Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves were 14-17-5 a year ago. They too played Southern Alberta IT in their exhibition game, and won by a 9-0 score. UAA tallied one point in the USCHO poll.
7) Both of their goalies played in their exhibition win. Jon Olthius got the start and made 7 stops in a little over half the game. Bryce Christianson stopped ten pucks in the second half of the game. Christianson was the better of the two a year ago, with a 2.60/.893 to Olthius's 3.43/.877.
8) For a team that was just 37th in offense a year ago, they've got a few pretty good scorers. Kevin Clark, Tommy Grant, and Josh Lunden all scored 13+ goals and 20+ points last season. They actually have as many 13+ goal scorers as Michigan does (Caporusso, Hagelin, and Wohlberg).
9) Lunden had 6 tallies with a man-advantage. UAA's power play was 16.1% last year, which ranked 30th in the country. Their penalty kill was awful, however. They ranked 56th in the country at 77.8%.
10) The Wolverines and Seawolves have only played 3 times in history, with Michigan holding a 2-0-1 edge. The last meeting was in October of 2000, a 4-3 Michigan win. Michigan has won this tournament once in the past. Senior Nils Backstrom is a Red Wing prospect. Brad Gorham is an ex-Buckeye, so feel free to hate him.
Brian has his thoughts on the exhibition weekend. Included is some very happy stuff from Bob Miller about Lucas Lessio, who is dissssgusting by the way:
Here's an interview after he scored the goal:
Lessio has 9-10--19 in 9 games this season.
The Wolverine Blog talked with Mike Spath from, well, The Wolverine, about the upcoming hockey season.
Also, the new hockey student section group is planning on organizing trips to East Lansing, Madison, the Soo, Joe Louis, and Toledo. They're looking for a name. Anyone have any suggestions?
The Wolverines are keeping their always-entertaining running diary of the trip to Alaska. Steve Kampfer, Louie Caporusso, and Shawn Hunwick wrote for this edition. Chris Summers took Travis Turnbull really early in their fantasy hockey draft. Shawn Hunwick drafted half the Bruins roster---but not his brother, Matt.