UAF Hockey returns to home ice to tangle with Northern Michigan
The Alaska Nanooks return to the Carlson Center this weekend to start the final stretch of the season that features six of their final eight games on home ice. UAF is coming off a clean sweep over Ferris State on the road, picking up six big points that sent the 'Nooks to the third spot in the WCHA standings with 34 points (11-8-1). The Northern Michigan Wildcats come to town this weekend, trailing UAF in the standings by just one point with 33.
These two squads met in mid-November, when NMU took game one 2-1, before UAF bounced back with a 3-2 victory the following night.
"They scored both their goals on Friday on the power play and got another one on Saturday, so I think our penalty kill has to be better and our special teams overall have to better against them," UAF Head Coach Erik Largen said by phone Thursday. "I think we match up well, I think it is going to be a really good weekend of hockey and it is going to come down to the extra one percent on who's got it, and hopefully our group is ready to go and ready to compete on Friday night."
Junior Steven Jandric was named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's Forward of the Week after his four-point performance in their weekend sweep over FSU.
"On Saturday night, he was a force to be reckoned with," Largen said of Jandric, who leads the Nanooks with 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists). "He was dominant on the ice, setting up goals, making goals happen. It is nice for him, I think sometimes he feels a lot of pressure that he's got to have that production for this team, and it is nice to see get rewarded for the work he has put in."
Friday night's contest is set for 7:07 p.m., while Saturday's puck drop will be at 5:07, to accommodate for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs game that is scheduled at 7:30. Fans are encouraged to watch the Nanooks in action before checking out the Ice Dogs afterwards at the Big Dipper.
"It is pretty unique to have a junior hockey team and a Division I college hockey team in the same hometown, same area," Largen said. "For the hockey community and hockey fans of Fairbanks to be able to get out and watch both our game and head over to the Dipper and watch them, I think it is a pretty neat and rare experience and so just a good night, a good celebration, watching a lot of good hockey and enjoying it with good people in this hockey town of Fairbanks."
Senior goaltender Anton Martinsson ranks 17th in NCAA Division 1 with a 0.925 save percentage and has a 7-8-0 record in between the pipes. Juniors Max Newton and Justin Young have provided strong contributions throughout the season, with Newton tallying 16 points, while Young has 15.