Photo Courtesy Paul McCarthy - UAF
Big Rapids, Mich. - A quick start fueled the Alaska Nanooks to a 4-1 home win over the nationally fourth-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team on Friday (Feb. 28) evening as the two teams opened a Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) weekend series before a crowd of 3,313 fans at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Alaska took game one of the two-game set as FSU fell to 23-8-3 on the year and 18-5-2 in the WCHA. Despite the setback, the Bulldogs still hold a two-point lead over second place Minnesota State in the league standings with three games remaining in the regular season.
The host Nanooks struck only 34 seconds into the game when Colton Beck notched his 12th goal of the season off an assist from Michael Quinn, who tallied his 18th helper of the year on the early goal.
The 1-0 score stood up until the 7:41 mark of the second period when the Nanooks pushed their lead to two goals on Nolan Huysmans' eighth lamplighter of the campaign, which was the eventual game-winner. Assists went to both Shawn Hochhausen and Josh Atkinson, who recorded their ninth and third assists of the season, respectively.
Less than six minutes later, Alaska increased its lead yet again off the stick of Tyler Morley, who picked up his 15th goal of the year also at even-strength. Garrick Perry aided the goal with his seventh assist this season as the Nanooks pushed their lead to three goals.
However, the Bulldogs finally answered shortly over two minutes later when senior forwawrd Andy Huff found the net on a Bulldog power-play with a shot from the short side of the right circle. The assists on FSU's first goal were credited to freshman defenseman Ryan Lowney along with senior forward Garrett Thompson at 15:41 of the second frame.
The Bulldogs could get no closer though as Alaska kept FSU off the scoreboard the rest of the way and added a third-period goal of its own from Perry at 12:48 of the final frame to account for the final score. Perry's 10th goal of the season came with help from Tyler Morley and Josh Atkinson, who picked up their 16th and fourth assists this year, respectively.
Alaska received a complete-game performance from Sean Cahill in net as the Nanooks' goaltender made 36 saves in earning the triumph. He had 13 in the opening period of play followed by 11 in the second and 12 in the third to improve to 7-3-1 on the year.
On the Ferris State end, Bulldog junior CJ Motte totaled 15 saves as he recorded five stops in each frame. FSU owned a big 37-19 edge in total shots overall as Ferris State had at least 12 shots in each frame and limited the Nanooks to seven shots or fewer in all three periods of play. Motte, who holds the nation's most wins for a goaltender this year, fell to 22-6-3 on the season with the loss.
Ferris State had the game's lone power play score of the night as FSU finished one-of-six with the man-advantage and limited the Nanooks without a goal in eight tries with the extra skater. Both teams were called for 13 penalties with FSU totaling 48 minutes in the box to 34 for Alaska.
With the win, Alaska improved to 15-12-4 overall along with 12-11-2 in league play and the Nanooks have currently won their last five games overall. UAF also climbed from fifth place to fourth place in the WCHA with the victory.
Previously, the Bulldogs had swept the Nanooks earlier this season in Big Rapids by scores of 5-3 and 4-3 on Nov. 22 and 23, respectively, inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena. FSU had also owned seven wins and a tie in the previous 10 matchups against Alaska entering the game.
To date, the Bulldogs have totaled 38 points in WCHA action this campaign and lead Minnesota State by two points in the standings following the Mavericks' road win on Friday night at Lake Superior State. Both teams have three games left to play.
Ferris State and Alaska will meet again on Saturday (March 1) night in the series' finale at the Carlson Center with the puck set to drop at 11:07 p.m. (ET). The game can be watched live on a pay-per-view basis online via WCHA TV on America One with complete coverage links available at FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
Following this week's trip to Alaska, FSU will then return home to host Lake Superior State in its final two regular-season outings on March 7-8 during "Senior Weekend" in Big Rapids with both games beginning at 7:07 p.m. (ET). A special "Buy One, Get One Free" promotional offer is available in advance until Wednesday at 7 p.m. or while supplies last.
Additionally, FSU has already clinched home ice for the opening round of the WCHA Playoffs. Ferris State will host an opponent to be determined in a best-of-three series set for March 14-16 with the winner advancing to the WCHA Final Five Championship on March 21-22 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
Tickets for both the final regular-season series along with the first round of the WCHA Playoffs are currently on sale now and can be purchased thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office, online at StarTickets.com or by calling 1-800-585-3737. For additional information, please visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com or call 231-591-2888.