FAIRBANKS—The Alaska Nanooks’ current status in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association is proof that the coaches and players are on the same page this season. The players are subscribing to what the coaches are teaching.
The Nanooks are in a five-way tie for second place at 2-2-0-0 CCHA and 4-3-1 overall, heading into today’s and Saturday’s series in Columbus, Ohio, against the Ohio State Buckeyes, who share ninth place with the Northern Michigan Wildcats.
“The coaches put in a plan in place for a reason and it’s working this year,” junior defenseman Michael Quinn said following Tuesday morning’s practice at the Patty Center. “We have a great group of guys who are definitely buying into the system, and there’s not one guy who isn’t. That’s why I think it’s working.”
Another proof of the Nanooks’ harmonious nature was last Friday’s 2-1 victory over Lake Superior State at the Carlson Center. The Nanooks were down 1-0 for the first 50 minutes of the game but stuck to the systems implemented by head coach Dallas Ferguson and assistant coaches Lance West and Corbin Schmidt to rally.
“I think it goes a long way, and I think it shows a sign of emotional control,” Ferguson said Tuesday in the Patty Center.
“We were getting the chances but they weren’t going in the net, and all of a sudden, it’s easy to go the other way, where you get emotional and things like that,” Ferguson recalled about Friday’s contest.
“You get rewarded for your efforts, and sometimes it makes that effort feel a lot better,” Ferguson added. “Saturday, we didn’t get rewarded until five minutes left and we finally scored, and the same thing on Friday.”
The Nanooks, despite a 50-25 advantage in shots, lost 4-2 Saturday to the Lakers, but they gained points in the CCHA standings for the second straight weekend.
“You have to believe in what you’re doing,” Ferguson said. *“If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, you’re going to start deviating away from the plan and trying to figure it out as you go.
“There’s no magic recipe to the success,” Ferguson continued. “You’ve got to go out and earn it, and how you deal with good stuff and how you deal with bad stuff is the sign of the character of the team.”
One character of the Buckeyes is they will be well rested heading into today’s series opener in the Value City Arena.
Ohio State (1-0-1-0, 2-2-2) last played Oct. 26-27 in northwest Ohio at Bowling Green.
Buckeyes won 1-0 in the CCHA series opener. The teams tied 3-3 the next night, but the Falcons won 1-0 in the ensuing shootout.
The Buckeyes only practiced for two days during their bye week.
“We took a lot of time off,” Ohio State head coach Mark Osiecki said Wednesday from Columbus. “We started the season three straight weeks on the road. We were a little banged up and guys needed time to heal.”
It’s the second straight year that the Nanooks are facing the Buckeyes in Columbus.
Alaska left the Ohio capital with one point in the standings, tying 2-2 and losing 2-1 in a shootout on Oct. 27, 2011, and losing 6-0 the next day.
Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7586.