FAIRBANKS-The Alaska Nanooks hockey team is trying to string together some wins. They've lost their last four games and are next to last in the WCHA with four points. UAF is 5-7-2 overall and 2-6 in conference.
But hold on Nanook fans not all is lost. It's just December and this weekend could be the weekend. The Nooks go to Anchorage to take on the Seawolves. It's Gov Cup time. Records mean nothing.
UAA isn't too much better just ahead of the Nanooks in eighth. They were swept by Minnesota State. Teams are about even in the stats but UAA boasts the top power play in the league overall and second in conference only games. Goalie Rob Gunderson is top six in saves percentage and goals allowed. UAF however has won the last four Gov Cups and are up 12-8 in the series.
The Nanooks don't look too much at the numbers. With this rivalry kicking off the first of four conference meetings this year for the Gov Cup, for UAF it's about bouncing back and playing their brand of hockey. Senior defenseman and assistant captain Michael Quinn, who is second on the team in blocks (31), points to changes that could help this weekend.
"We've been trying some new line combinations, some new d-pairing, hoping that this mix up will create some chemistry. We've been working hard but we've haven't exactly been putting our chances away so we've been working on that this week. We're looking forward to get going on Friday," Quinn said.
Sophomore right wing Nolan Huysmans touched on the emotions in this kind of intrastate rivaly that could help or hurt a team.
"It's a lot different than any other series for sure. I think that the buzz will be a lot bigger around here once they come back here in February but obviously its bigger crowds when we're playing them and a lot more energy in the rink. I think that we have to manage our emotions and make sure we keep that in check," Huysmans said. "You know just do what we need to do. Just focus on ourselves and not worry about anything else."