University of Alaska Fairbanks head coach Erik Largen hasn’t dwelled on the latest Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings and U.S. College Hockey Online Poll (uscho.com).
His attention is more on the Ferris State University Bulldogs, who, unlike the Nanooks, don’t share first place with three other teams in the WCHA and didn’t get votes this week in the USCHO.com poll.
The Nanooks and Bulldogs, of Big Rapids, Michigan, face off at 7:07 p.m. today and Saturday in the Carlson Center, the 84th and 85th games, respectively, in the history of the rivalry.
The Nanooks, 7-7-0 overall and 5-3-0-0 WCHA, have 15 points in the standings, which ties them for first place with the Minnesota State Mavericks and Northern Michigan Wildcats.
“It’s obviously better than sitting in last place, but it’s such a long season,” Largen said by phone Wednesday.
The Nanooks split with the Wildcats last weekend in Marquette, Michigan, falling 2-1 Friday and winning 3-2 Saturday.
“I think it helped give the guys confidence to win in a building like Northern’s,” Largen said, alluding to the Nanooks’ 4-25-7 all-time record at the Berry Events Center.
“We have to continue to work hard and do the right things.”
The Nanooks also received nine votes in the latest USCHO poll of top-25 NCAA Division I teams.
The Bulldogs, despite a record of 3-8-0 overall and 1-5-0-0 WCHA for three points and ninth-place in the 10-team conference, have typically tested the Nanooks.
“They’re always competitive. They have good skaters and they transition the puck well,” Largen said of the Bulldogs.
The Nanooks have a 39-36-8 edge all-time in the series. When the teams met last season at the Carlson Center, the Nanooks needed overtime to win 4-3 in the opener Nov. 30. UAF swept the series with a 6-2 win the next night.
The Nanooks also are hoping to play better at home this weekend, as they’re 2-6-0 this season on the Olympic-size sheet (200x100 feet).
“We got to do a better job of taking care of the Carlson Center.” Largen said. “We’ve got to make some headway. We’re not going to change anything in the process but we’ve still got to pick up points (in the WCHA standings).”