Courtesy Photo Paul McCarthy - UAF
Big Rapids, Mich. - Three consecutive third-period goals lifted Alaska to a 5-3 triumph over the nationally fourth-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team on Saturday (March 1) night as the Nanooks earned the weekend sweep over the Bulldogs at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska.
The two teams entered the final frame tied at two goals apiece, but Alaska scored the initial three markers of the final stanza to record the victory and officially clinch a WCHA postseason tournament appearance.
By virtue of the setback along with second-place Minnesota State's road win at Lake Superior State, the Bulldogs and Mavericks are now tied atop the WCHA standings with 38 points each heading into the final week of the regular-season.
After a 4-1 loss in Friday's (Feb. 28) opener at the Carlson Center, the Bulldogs struck first with an early-goal on Saturday night. Senior forward Cory Kane notched his 11th goal of the year in unassisted fashion on a short-handed tally at 3:41 of the initial stanza to give FSU the first advantage of the evening.
However, slightly less than three minutes later, Cody Kunyk answered for the Nanooks with his 18th marker of the campaign. Both Josh Atkinson and Marcus Basara picked up the helpers on the goal for their fifth and 10th assists of the year, respectively.
Alaska seized its first lead of the evening a little more than midway thru the second frame when Trevor Campbell picked up his third goal this season with an even-strength score off assists from Michael Quinn and Colton Beck. The assist was Quinn's 19th and Beck's 21st on the goal which came at 12:57 of the middle stanza.
The Bulldogs, though, answered back just over a minute later when freshman defenseman Ryan Lowney found the back of the net for his first collegiate goal at 14:14 of the second frame. It was assisted by senior forward Andy Huff and fellow freshman forward Gerald Mayhew. Huff notched his 10th assist to date while Mayhew contributed for his 11th assist of the season.
The two teams headed into the third and final frame deadlocked at two goals each before the Nanooks took control in the final period. Beck picked up his second point of the night with his 13th goal this campaign to break the tie at 3:58 of the third. His goal came off assists from Basara and Kunyk as both also recorded their second points of the evening.
Kunyk tallied his third point of the game and 20th assist of the year at 16:08 of the final period when he fed Brandon Morley for his fifth goal of the year to give Alaska a 4-2 lead.
The Nanooks then pushed the edge to three goals nearly three minutes later when Garrick Perry registered his 11th goal off an assist from Tyler Morley at 18:58 of the final period.
Ferris State got the game's final goal at 19:48 when Huff picked up his ninth lamplighter of the year off a Kane assist, but the Bulldogs could not climb any closer. Kane's assist was his 12th of the season and he has now recorded a point in seven consecutive games to date.
The Bulldog loss came despite 36 saves in net from junior goaltender CJ Motte, who tallied 10 in the opening period followed by 12 in the second and 14 in the third. He dropped to 22-7-3 on the season with the loss.
On the opposite end of the ice, Sean Cahill picked up the win for the Nanooks by making 21 saves, including four in the first period with nine in the second and eight in the third. He moved to 8-3-1 on the season by completing the weekend sweep.
Both teams recorded four penalites for eight minutes, but neither team could capitalize on the power play as both were held without a goal in four opportunities with the man-advantage.
With the win, Alaska improved to 16-12-4 overall along with 13-11-2 in league play and the Nanooks have currently won their last six games overall. UAF moved up into a tie for third place in the WCHA with the two wins. FSU dropped to 23-9-3 on the season along with 18-6-2 in league play.
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 weekend.
Ferris State will return home to continue its quest for the WCHA Championship as the Bulldogs 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.