FAIRBANKS — Dallas Ferguson didn’t need to elaborate.
The Alaska Nanooks head coach had a simple answer when he was asked if special teams were emphasized in preparing for this weekend’s Central Collegiate Hockey Association series against Bowling Green State University in the Carlson Center.
“Oh, a hundred percent,” Ferguson replied Thursday afternoon in his office at the Patty Center.
The sixth-place Nanooks, respectively, went 0 for 7 and 0 for 8 on the power play while getting swept by conference leading and then-fourth-ranked Miami (Ohio) last weekend at the Carlson Center. Alaska lost 5-2 Friday and 4-0 Saturday, marking the first time this season that the Nanooks didn’t gain at least a point in the CCHA standings.
“Last weekend, we had opportunities to get ourselves in the game or ahead of the game, and we didn’t capitalize on it,” Ferguson said. “You need to compete to take advantage of those situations and I don’t think we executed nearly where we needed to.”
Power-play execution was a focus of this week’s practices for Alaska (4-6-2-0 CCHA, 6-7-3 overall).
So far in CCHA play, the Nanooks rank 10th among the conference’s 11 teams with a power-play efficiency of 10.2 percent (six goals among 59 opportunities).
“We were making sure everybody is aware of where they need to be and when they need to be there,” Ferguson said of this week’s practices. “I think if you go back to when our power play was very successful at the beginning of the season, we were shooting a lot more pucks.
“It’s not real hard to figure it out,” he added, “we just want to have a net presence and when we get opportunities to shoot, we’re shooting, and we’re getting bodies to the net.”
Alaska leads the CCHA for penalty minutes (16.0 per game) in conference games and its penalty killing ranks seventh at 85 percent (51 denials among 60 power plays).
The Nanooks are facing a last-place Bowling Green team (1-6-2-1, 2-9-3) that had an extra week to shore up its special teams. The Falcons, of Bowling Green, Ohio, come into the Carlson Center ranked 11th in CCHA action for power plays (5.3 percent from two goals in 38 chances) and ninth for penalty killing (31 of 41 denials for a 75.6 percent efficiency).
Bowling Green had three games in six days against ranked CCHA rivals before going on a 15-day break. The Falcons were swept at home by then No. 20 Ferris State (4-3 overtime and 3-1) on Nov. 16-17, and lost 3-1 at then-19th-ranked Michigan on Nov. 21.
Head coach Chris Bergeron’s team carried a six-game winless streak (0-5-1) into its break.
“It’s been optimistic, to say the least, in terms of how we practiced, and last week was an individual meetings week. For some guys it wasn’t easy, but it was real, “Bergeron said Tuesday in a video of his weekly press conference on the Bowling Green campus.
Bergeron got a sense of his players and they got a sense of his expectations during the meetings.
“This is where you are as an individual and this is where we are as a team, which is easier to see,” Bergeron said of the meetings. “‘Is there a way we can make it better for you?’ ‘Is there a way for it to get easier on you without expecting less?’
“It was a good reflection week and a good conversation week, and I thought the practices were good,” he added.
Bowling has 22 players back from last season’s squad that finished last in the regular season but advanced through the playoffs to reach the CCHA Championship Tournament at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
“They’ve been a real hard-working team, real competitive,” Ferguson said of this season’s Falcons. “We watched their game against Michigan, where they got in there and got real involved physically. They try to stay on top of you.
“That’s something we’re anticipating,” Ferguson added, “having to play with pace and having to get up and down the ice quickly, and play quick in transition so we can try to take away some of those sets they’re trying to run against us.”
After the series against Bowling Green, the Nanooks are off until their annual New Year’s road trip. Alaska plays at Michigan on Jan. 11-12 and at Notre Dame on Jan. 18-19.
The Nanooks are back in the Carlson Center on Jan. 25-26 against Northern Michigan.
• TONIGHT: Bowling Green at Alaska Nanooks, Carlson Center, 7:05 p.m.
• SATURDAY: Bowling Green at Alaska Nanooks, Carlson Center, 7:05 p.m.
• RADIO: KCBF (820AM)
Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7586.