FAIRBANKS — Alaska Nanooks freshman John Keeney goaltender made the most of his first opportunity to play in a Central Collegiate Hockey Association series this season.
Keeney helped the Nanooks gain a 1-1 tie and a 3-1 victory in a road series against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday and Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.
For his efforts, the Twin Peaks, Calif., business major was named the CCHA Goaltender of the Week on Monday.
Keeney registered 33 saves on Friday night in the Nanooks 1-1 tie. He followed that up with a 32-save performance Saturday to earn his first collegiate win and give the Nanooks a four-point weekend.
“He was ‘Mr. Steady’ all weekend long,” Nanooks coach Dallas Ferguson said after Saturday night’s win. “He was very composed, he didn’t give up any bad rebounds and he did a good job dealing with traffic in front of the net.”
For the weekend, Keeney had a goals-against average of 0.96 and a save percentage of 0.970, helping the Nanooks improve their overall record 5-3-2 and their CCHA record to 3-2-1-0, good for second-place in the 11-team league’s standings.
Keeney was the last line of defense on a Nanooks penalty kill that stopped 12 of 13 Ohio State penalties. The only Ohio State goal on Saturday was when the Buckeyes had a two-man advantage.
The Nanooks have killed 39 of 44 penalties this season, an 88.6 percent efficiency, ninth best in the nation and second best in the CCHA
Alaska’s performance last weekend got some notice across the country as the Nanooks received 36 points in this week’s U.S. College Hockey Online Poll to finish second in the others receiving votes category.
The Nanooks host No. 9 Western Michigan (5-2-1 overall, 2-1-1-1 CCHA) in 7:35 p.m. games Friday and Saturday at the Carlson Center. The games are starting 30 minutes later than usual to avoid conflict the GCI Alaska Invitational men’s basketball tournament at the Patty Center.
Western Michigan is one of six CCHA team ranked in the top 20. The others are No. 4 Miami (Ohio), No. 8 Notre Dame, No. 13 Michigan, No. 19 Northern Michigan and No. 20 Ferris State.
Ohio State, Lake Superior State and Michigan State also are receiving votes. Bowling Green is the only team in the league not mentioned in the poll.
The Nanooks are No. 22 in this week’s Pairwise rankings, which mimic the selection formula used to determine which teams are invited to the NCAA Tournament at the end of the year.
The Face-Off Club coaches luncheon will be at noon Friday in the Carlson Center. The cost is $15 and both coaches are expected to speak about their teams.
Chicken cordon bleu will be this week’s entree.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.