Huskies sweep Nanooks for first road wins
FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Michigan Tech earned a WCHA road sweep of Alaska with a 2-1 victory at Carlson Center Saturday. Goaltender Pheonix Copley stopped 28 of 29 shots, and the Huskies scored two special teams goals to move to 6-8-2 overall and 4-3-1 in league play.
For the second straight night, Tech did all of its scoring in the second period.
Rookie Shane Hanna posted his second goal of the weekend with a power-play tally just 26 seconds into the frame. Alex Petan slid a pass to Hanna, who slapped a one-timer from the center of the blue line to put Tech on top 1-0.
Midway through the stanza, captain Blake Pietila was given a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct. With the teams already skating 4-on-4 and the Nanooks getting out of the box first, that led 12 seconds of 5-on-3. UAF had control in its offensive zone and tried to send a pass to the point. C.J. Eick got a stick on the pass and deflected it to neutral ice just as Tanner Kero was stepping onto the ice. Kero skated in and finished with a backhand underneath Nanook goalie Sean Cahill for a 2-0 lead.
Tech killed the remaining 4:24 of Pietila’s major and went into the locker room after 40 minutes with the two-goal lead.
Alaska (5-7-2, 2-6-0 WCHA) cut the lead in half just three minutes into the final period. Copley attempted to glove down Justin Woods’ shot from the left point, but the puck got loose. Cody Kunyk slid home the rebound for his 10th goal of the season.
UAF held a 5-2 advantage in shots on goal in the final period, but didn’t get any good looks in the final 1:20 with the extra attacker on the ice.
Copley finished off the sweep with one final kick save of a shot from neutral ice in the final minute.
Tech finished 1-for-4 on the power play compared to 0-or-3 for Alaska. The hosts held a 29-23 advantage in shots on goal.
“It was a real gutsy effort by our team tonight,” said Tech coach Mel Pearson. “There were a couple big turning points with the major penalty and the shorthanded goal. We showed a lot of poise and patience with the puck, especially in the third period. And what can you say about Pheonix. He came home in front of a lot of family and friends and put on another great performance.
Friday, Petan recorded two goals and an assist to lead Michigan Tech to a 3-2 victory. The Huskies scored three goals in an eight-minute span early in the second period.
Petan figured into all three, including the eventual game-winner, to give Tech its first road win of the season.
“It was a good team win tonight,” said Pearson. “Two big things happened: we gave up the first goal and came back to win; and we got our first road win. We did the things we needed to do and got a big two points in the standings.”
Pearson shuffled the lineup a bit heading into the game, pairing wings Petan and Eick with center Mike Neville. The move paid off, as the line created all three goals.
Just as important was the play of Copley. Playing near his hometown of North Pole, Alaska, and receiving a nice ovation from the crowd before the game, Copley posted 30 saves-nine of those in the third period as the hosts were pressing to tie the game.
Alaska got on the board just 1:17 into action on a goal from Tyler Morley. The hosts had chances to extend the lead with a 12-8 advantage in shots on goal in the period, but Copley made several key saves.
Tech opened the second period with a flurry. Hanna recorded his first collegiate goal with a wrister from the point just 58 seconds in. The marker came off a faceoff win by Neville and a primary assist from Petan.
Four minutes later, Eick found Petan alone behind the defense, where he finished past Cahill for a 2-1 lead.
Little more than three minutes after that one, Eick created a turnover in the left corner and fed a pass to Petan in tight once again. His eighth goal of the season came at the 8:09 mark for a 3-1 Tech lead.
The Nanooks were able to climb back within a goal at the 13:11 mark as Garrick Perry tallied the game’s fifth even-strength goal.
Neither team would score again despite two minutes of power play for UAF and six for Tech in the final 25 minutes of the game. UAF pressed hard in the third period and had 1:20 with the extra attacker but could not tally to tie the game.
Alaska possessed a 32-24 advantage in shots on goal in the contest. The teams were a combined 0-for-7 on the power play (Tech held UAF 0-for-3).
“To get five of eight points on a really tough road trip like this says a lot about our team. We’re all looking forward to getting back home,” Pearson said.
Michigan Tech will return to home ice for back-to-back league series. The Huskies host Bemidji State this Friday and Saturday with faceoffs at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena set for 7:07 p.m. each night.