Governor’s Cup primer

Junior goalie Rob Gunderson and senior forward Scott Warner dive to stop the puck. (Photo courtesy of UAA Athletics)
Junior goalie Rob Gunderson and senior forward Scott Warner dive to stop the puck. (Photo courtesy of UAA Athletics)

The Governor’s Cup is here. The first game between the Seawolves and Nanooks will take place in Fairbanks, then the clubs will head to Anchorage to complete the two-game duel.

For the Seawolves, this is a chance to erase some bad memories of the 2013 season. The rivalry hasn’t reached Lakers-Celtics proportions, but taking out the Nanooks would lessen the blow of their disappointing year.

The 2012 series ended in a respectable 1-1 split, but the Nanooks took home the cup on points. To win this year’s installment, the ‘Wolves have plenty of areas they’ll need to tighten up.

It all starts with protecting the net. The Seawolves sit at no. 55 in Division I team defense, allowing 3.47 goals per game. This number is especially troublesome when their offense is barely notching over two goals on average. That’s a scary ratio.

The Nanooks boast a three-headed monster of double-digit goal scorers. Right wing Andy Taranto, forward Tyler Morley and left wing Colton Beck will keep the ‘Wolves working when they don’t have the puck.

Junior goaltenders Chris Kamal and Rob Gunderson have to play above their below-90 save percentages. Defense doesn’t start and end with the guys in the crease, but those numbers are hard to ignore.

Another disconcerting comparison can be made between the Seawolves’ and Nanooks’ shots per game. UAA gets off 21 shots per outing, while UAF is averaging 34.

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The Seawolves need to get more juice behind their attack, while withstanding and — in a perfect world — minimizing the Nanooks’ onslaught.

Goalie Chris Kamal reaches out to make a save.
Goalie Chris Kamal reaches out to make a save.

Stats are not kind to the Seawolves. They are a four-win team, and the stats reflect that. Come Friday, the ‘Wolves simply cannot play like the team that’s compiled these statistics.

Seniors Alex Gellert and Daniel Naslund could spark the club this weekend. The two forwards are in position to end their UAA careers with a bang. They should set a passionate tone for the Seawolves.

Emotional quality aside, Gellert and Naslund have also logged 11 and nine points, respectively.

The Seawolves have had their issues on the ice, but have been quite successful off of it.  Six hockey players were named to the 2012-13 WCHA Scholar-Athlete Team. Chris Crowell, Scott Warner, Matt Bailey, Daniel Naslund, Quinn Sproule and Kory Roy were all honored for their high-level performances in school.

It’s going to take a pair of heady games from the green and gold to add two wins to their 82-52-11 series record against the Nanooks.

Saturday is your last chance to catch the Seawolves in home action. As always, the game is at Sullivan Arena and the puck is scheduled to drop at 7:07 p.m.

The Seawolves’ regular season ends with two road games against Denver March 8 and 10. Their final hockey will be played at the WCHA tournament, which begins March 15.