O speculative fans of the CCHA,
Why do you imagine a last-place finish?
Do you not see how the Nanooks
Persevere among the players
In the rink where you worship?
The Nanooks were picked last by the media in the CCHA preseason poll — by everyone but me, that is.
The third of the league’s teams that fielded a large freshman class during the 2000-01 season, the Nanooks nonetheless completed the most successful season in UAF hockey history, and Guy Gadowsky looks forward to making a tradition of that.
“For us to take another step … specialty teams need to improve, and in that huge freshman class we brought in last year, we have to see which of those guys can step and really elevate their game,” says Gadowsky. “That’s the determining factor whether we take this program to the next level.”
A Farewell to Charms
UAF said goodbye to a very talented, big, strong, charismatic senior class after the 2000-01 campaign, a group that included Ryan Reinheller, Darren Tiemstra, Pat Hallett, and my boyfriend, Chad Hamilton.
“The thing about that class … was that their biggest strength was their character,” Gadowsky says. “Tiemstra was a 4.0 student and was UAF’s male scholar-athlete twice, you know about Reinheller. They were all tough, big guys. I don’t think we’ll miss any one of them specifically, but all of them together.”
The Nanooks are a very young team, with 11 sophomores and eight freshmen. Regardless of that youth, Gadowsky says that the corps of upperclassmen is more than capable of providing the leadership that UAF needs.
“I think in terms of character, I’m really happy with the seniors we have,” says Gadowsky. “Bobby Andrews as a two-way forward is awesome … and all the seniors have led this team academically and in the weight room.”
Andrews (9-16-25) is the leading returning scorer, followed by Blaine Bablitz (7-17-24), and defenseman Daniel Carrier (7-12-19).
As I Skate, Flying
With the big guys like Reinheller, Tiemstra, and my boyfriend gone, what remains for the Nanooks?
Smaller players, certainly, but much faster, a trend that began with last year’s rookies.
“This [freshman class] is a little different,” says Gadowsky. “Last year we had a large class that sort of had a theme to it; every one of them had speed, smarts, or both. This year is a bit of grab bag.
“We get size and grit with Aaron Voros, speed and skill with Jason Grinevitch, smarts in Cramer Hickey, who plays with his head up. For speed, there’s also Drew Bailey, and we get real character with Billy Crumm and Scott Vockeroth, and Corbin Schmidt plays forward and defense.
“This is more pieces of the puzzle than it is rebuilding the whole look of the team.”
The Sound and the Flurry
Gadowsky is in the enviable position of having three solid goaltenders vying for the starting spot.
Preston McKay (2.71 GAA, .910 SV%) and Lance Mayes (3.16 GAA, .894 SV%) are joined by rookie Keith Bartusch.
“I’m very happy with that,” says Gadowsky. “It’s nice to have two guys who are capable of winning a game on their own.”
If wins over Michigan, Miami, and Ohio State last season are any indication of the shape of things to come for UAF, no one should be surprised when the Nanooks take a big step this year — and record their first 10-win season.