FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) A preseason goal for the Alaska Nanooks Hockey program was to host the first round of the WCHA playoffs. They checked that box last weekend when they swept the University of Alaska Anchorage, capturing their 11th straight Governor's Cup title and securing the fourth seed, setting them up to host the opening round of the postseason for the first time since 2014.
The Nanooks (16-13-5, 14-9-5 WCHA) are hosting the Bowling Green Falcons (19-13-4, 14-10-4 WCHA) on Friday and Saturday night at 7:07 p.m. AKST at the Carlson Center. If the two teams split, there will be a decisive game three on Sunday at 5:07 p.m.
"I think people are really excited about it, it has been awhile," Nanooks head coach Erik Largen said ahead of the weekend. "I think Fairbanks has really embraced the run and the community has embraced the run, we are just excited to be able to play in front of the Carlson Center fans and excited to be able to play in front of the people of Fairbanks and I know our guys are going to give their best effort this weekend."
The Falcons and Nanooks skated to a double tie in mid-February, with the Nanooks gaining an extra point in the 3-on-3 double overtime, before falling in shootouts the following night. UAF's senior class, comprised of 10 student-athletes, have navigated the Nanooks through their bounce-back year.
"To see those guys be able to graduate and to have this experience; the first three years going through three different head coaches, going through the budget uncertainty, and for this to be kind of the capstone of their Nanook career and to be able to see these guys achieve what they set out at the beginning of the year, that has kept me motivated and our staff motivated to do the best that we can for them." Largen added.
Junior forward Steven Jandric carries an 11-game point streak into the weekend, including netting a "natural hat trick" in Friday's 5-2 win over UAA.