If Friday night was any indication, 2016-17 will be a very long season for the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. Minnesota outplayed UAA from the opening puck drop, and the Gophers cruised to a 6-0 win. UAA averaged only 4 SOG per period in the loss.
Life didn’t get any easier on Saturday night for UAA, as Alaska took it to the Seawolves in a 4-1 win for the Nanooks. The tone was once again set early, as Alaska held UAA to only 3 SOG in the first period. So far so good for my two teams, as both Minnesota and Fairbanks won round one. Now they would face each other.
I didn’t know what to expect when Minnesota and Alaska took to the ice; it had been quite a few years since the two teams had met.
I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all.
I grew up watching the Golden Gophers, but I’ve been attending Nanook games for over 20 years now, and I know this team and see the players throughout the year in Fairbanks. I was torn, so much so that The Curator told me to “Stop cheering for both teams; it’s confusing!” A Nanook win would be huge for the program, but a Gopher loss would be bad for rankings down the road. All I could do was hope both teams played well, and try to just enjoy the game. It didn’t help that we were surrounded by Nanook parents. The mother of Justin Woods warned me that I better not be cheering for Minnesota in front of her.
I expected a small crowd on Sunday, since UAA was not playing, but this was absolutely pathetic. There were some transplanted Minnesotans at the game, as well as a fair group down from Fairbanks, but overall I thought there was about 700 people in the stands. The announced paid attendance was 1900 and some change, but there sure as hell were not that many people in the seats.
Alaska played Minnesota tough. The Nanook defense played well, and I thought Jesse Jenks played well in goal for UA making 21 saves, but Minnesota was always a step ahead and an outbreak away. Minnesota tallied 2 SHG’s and an ENG on the way to a 6-3 win. Alaska twice cut the Minnesota lead from 2 to one, but the Gophers found a way to rally each time. Eric Schierhorn, the Minnesota goal tender made 17 saves and had an assist on the first Minnesota short handed goal.
According to The Curator, Minnesota is now #2 in the pairwise rankings.