An early third-period goal by senior Mike Fillinger (Grand Ledge) snapped a 2-2 tie as the Ferris State University men's ice hockey team completed a two-game Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) sweep of the Alaska Nanooks this Sunday (Feb. 6) evening by claiming a 3-2 victory at UA's Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Fillinger's game winner was his first of the season and helped Ferris State stretch its current winning streak to three games as the Bulldogs earned another three points in the league standings with the win. Presently, Ferris State is 14-12-4 overall record and 11-10-3-2 in the CCHA with a fifth-place 38 league points total, one point behind fourth-place Western Michigan (39 league points). The triumph also resulted in another mark in the win column for senior goaltender Pat Nagle (Bloomfield), who racked up 29 saves and received the game's first star.
The sweep by Ferris State was also its first against Alaska since the 2002-03 campaign (Nov. 1-2) when the CCHA regular-season champion Bulldogs skated to 5-0 and 5-1 victories in Fairbanks. The pair of wins added to an already memorable journey for the Bulldogs, who had to reschedule their trip to Fairbanks because of a winter blizzard in the Midwest earlier in the week.
Alaska jumped out to a 1-0 lead midway through the first period on a goal by Cody Kunyk as the Nanooks outshot the Bulldogs 13-2 in the opening frame.
Ferris State managed to erase the deficit in the ensuing period with back-to-back lamplighters less than a minute apart. Sophomore right wing Eric Alexander (Kentwood), who turned in the lone multiple-point game effort for either team, netted his fourth goal of the year on a breakaway after picking up an up-ice pass from senior defenseman Zach Redmond (Traverse City) and deked Alaska goaltender Scott Greenham for the equalizer. Junior defensive linemate Chad Billins (Marysville) also collected an assist on the Bulldogs' initial score.
Following Alexander's goal at the 7:14 mark, Ferris State quickly built upon its momentum as senior defenseman Scott Wietecha (Wolverine Lake) connected on a shot from inside the right circle past Greenham's glove side to the near post 49 seconds later to put the Bulldogs up 2-1. Wietecha produced his first goal of the season off of assists from juniors Derek Graham (Schoolcraft) and Jordie Johnston (Rosetown, Saskatchewan). Ferris' lead would last for next five minutes precisely as Alaska's Dustin Sather scored into basically a wide-open Bulldog net following a pass from the right goal line by Jarret Granberg, which caught FSU goalie Pat Nagle out of position to defend the opposite side. Nagle made a kick save to his left, but was unable to recover in enough time as Sather redirected the rebound into the Bulldogs' net. Ferris State would close out the period with a commanding 16-4 advantage in shots.
The lone scoring in the final period would come at 7:55 into the stanza as Mike Fillinger tallied his sixth of the season on an assist from Eric Alexander, who was tabbed as the second star of the game. The winning play transpired as Alaska defenseman Kaare Odegard's pass from the halfboards in an attempt to clear the zone was intercepted at the top of the right circle by Alexander. The Bulldog forward skated toward the slot and fed Mike Fillinger, who was streaking towards the left post and tapped the puck into the Nanooks' net past Greenham. Pat Nagle (14-10-4) turned away all 14 shots faced in the period to ensure Fillinger's marker as the decisive one. Scott Greenham (12-12-4) had 20 saves for Alaska, which would post a 14-5 third-period advantage in shots en route to a 31-23 margin for the game.
With the loss, Alaska stands at 12-12-4 overall on the season and remains sixth place in the CCHA with a 9-11-4-2 ledger (33 league points).
Ferris State will now make the 2,839-mile trip back from Fairbanks to Big Rapids and prepare to begin a four-game homestand over the next two weeks, commencing this weekend (Feb. 11-12 with a pair of non-league encounters versus the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers. Both contests will start at 7:05 p.m. (EST) inside FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena. For tickets, please contact the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888 or order online at www.startickets.com. The February Fan Appreciation Special for the remaining four regular-season home games is also being offered at a discounted $36 adult ticket price and $24 for senior citizens ages 65 and older along with K-12 grade.
Notes: Mike Fillinger has produced a point in four of his last six games to date with a combined four points (3-1=4) total . . . Scott Wietecha's goal was his initial tally of this season in 30 games and his first since Jan. 9, 2010 at Notre Dame . . . The Bulldogs claimed the four-game series against Alaska this season, winning three meetings - 4-2 at home (Dec. 10), 2-1 (Feb. 5) and 3-2 (Feb. 6) on the road . . . Eric Alexander registered his second multi-point game performance this campaign with a goal and an assist in tonight's game. The forward tallied a pair of lamplighters in a league win at Michigan State earlier this season (Nov. 23) . . . Pat Nagle has notched a 1.80 goals-against average (nine goals allowed) to go with a .928 saves percentage (116 saves) in his last five appearances to date . . . This weekend's series at Alaska was originally scheduled to be held Friday and Saturday (Feb. 4-5), but was moved back a day because of the Bulldogs' travel delays due to Tuesday's (Feb. 1) severe snow storm.