Far from home

Robert+Shea+-+Senior+Defenseman

Robert Shea – Senior Defenseman

Senior Reporter and Senior Reporter

Following a bye week, the BG hockey team will embark on an eight-hour trip to Alaska for a weekend set with the Nanooks.

Alaska has been one of the pleasant surprises of the first half of this season. Picked to finish 10 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in the preseason coaches poll, the Nanooks find themselves comfortably in sixth place in league standings.

A big part of that is their well-rounded all-around game. The Nanooks are fifth in the CCHA with 2.38 goals per game and sixth with 2.69 goals per game.

“They’re proving to be [a formidable team] again this year,” said BG Coach Chris Bergeron. “We have to make it a puck possession game down below the tops of the circles and not let it become a track meet … we’re going to have to make them defend.”

While Alaska isn’t the only team in the CCHA that presents this challenge, one of the main challenges about playing at Alaska is the size of the ice.

The ice at the BGSU Ice Arena is NHL regulation size: 200 feet long by 85 feet wide. However, the ice in Alaska is Olympic size: 200 feet long by 100 feet wide.

The faceoff circles are in the same locations on both sheets of ice, meaning that at Alaska, there is more room along the boards and in the corners. That makes being aware more important so you don’t get caught out of position.

“You can find yourself getting caught outside on the wall and it’s further to the net,” said BG forward Ryan Carpenter. “So trying not to get caught outside [is a key], but I feel like there will be more space to make plays.”

Another challenge, one that is unique to playing at Alaska, is the travel.

Instead of taking a bus trip to the game, the Falcons will take a pair of flights: one to Washington state and a second to Alaska. The trip spans four time zones; Alaska is four hours behind the Eastern Time Zone.

However, Bergeron doesn’t believe that will be an issue for the team.

“The biggest reason it’s a tough place to play is just getting there,” he said. “It’s two four-hour flights and a four hour bus ride, followed by another four hour bus ride for these guys is no problem. We’ll get up there and have plenty of time to prepare, both on the ice and off.”

Bergeron said during the bye week, the coaching staff had individual meetings with the players to evaluate where they are at this point in the season.

“For some guys, it wasn’t easy, but it was real; this is where you are as an individual and this is where we are as a program,” he said. “What our involvement was, we asked, ‘is there a way we can make it better for you; is there a way we can be easier on you without expecting less.’ It was a good reflection week.”

Both games are scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. in Alaska, which is 11:05 p.m. in the Eastern Time Zone.