FAIRBANKS — Both the Alaska Nanooks and the Bowling Green State Falcons gained something from Saturday night’s finale of their Central Collegiate Hockey Association series in the Carlson Center.
The 3-3 tie and ensuing
1-0 shootout victory meant the Nanooks collected points in the standings for the first time in three games.
They, however, would have liked to have ended the first half of the season with their first win since a 6-1 home romp of Western Michigan on Nov. 16. The Nanooks, who saw a 3-1 lead in the third period dissolve into the 3-3 tie, go into a five-week break with an 0-5-2 record in their last seven contests.
“We needed to put forth an extra effort there at the end in the third period to make sure we get all three points (for a win). But we battled back and we were able to get two, so we’re pretty happy with that,” said senior right wing Andy Taranto, who delivered the winner in the three-round shootout.
Taranto, the first participant in the shootout, skated quickly up the middle of the ice to snap the puck between the pads of Falcons senior goaltender Andrew Hammond, who finished the weekend with 80 saves — 41 on Saturday after recording 39 in Friday’s 3-2 win for Bowling Green.
The sixth-place Nanooks, 4-7-3-1 CCHA and 6-8-3 overall, got 28 saves from freshman goaltender John Keeney and regulation goals from junior center Cody Kunyk, junior defenseman Michael Quinn and freshman center Tyler Morley.
Bowling Green (2-6-3-1, 3-9-4) got its regulation markers from junior center Camden Wojtala, freshman left wing Mark Cooper and sophomore right wing Adam Berkle.
Falcons head coach Chris Bergeron saw an effort Saturday from his team that he hadn’t since last season’s playoffs, when then last-place Bowling Green reached the CCHA Championship Tournament in Detroit. On the way to the conference tournament at Joe Louis Arena, the Falcons won a quarterfinal series at Ferris State, which received at an-large berth into the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the national championship game.
The Falcons came to Fairbanks in last place and on a six-game winless streak (0-5-1), but they returned to Ohio with four points from the weekend in a ninth-place tie with Northern Michigan and Michigan State.
“The perseverance is what we’re trying to build this program around,” Bergeron said. “What you saw here tonight is a little of what we did last year in the playoffs, and we haven’t even done close to enough so far this year.
“We need to use this weekend as we push forward in the second half of the season,” Bergeron said.
Berkle forced overtime during an extra-attacker situation with 56.7 seconds left in the game. Dam DeSalvo, who earned his second straight assist of the period, lined a shot from near the left point and Berkle retrieved the rebound and worked it around the stick blade of a prone Keeney. Bobby Shea also helped for his second assist of the night and fourth of the series.
“I thought in the first two periods we were playing OK, with a few ups and downs” Berkle said. “In the third, we didn’t want to lose this game, we wanted to stick with it. We came out in the third and battled the entire period.”
In the shootout, Keeney made a glove save on Bryce Willamson’s forehand attempt, poke-checked Ryan Christopher’s backhand and made a pad on DeSalvo’s backhand to secure the two points in the standings.
It took the Nanooks 24 minutes, 8 seconds to produce their first goal Friday. They only needed the first 59 seconds of Saturday’s contest to take a 1-0 lead.
Trevor Campbell, who had two assists Saturday and four for the weekend, uncorked a shot from the left point and it deflected off of Hammond’s glove. The rebound slid across the crease for Kunyk to tap inside the left post.
“We knew coming into tonight we had to bring ourt best effort,” Quinn said. “Getting that first goal I think lifted everyone’s spirits.”
Bowling Green tied the game on a patient play at 3:02 into the second period.
Shea’s blast from above the left circle ricochetted off the back wall. Wojtala waited for the puck at the left side of crease and snuck it by Keeney’s glove side.
Quinn snapped the tie, and a streak of seven games with no points, at 9:57, taking Nik Yaremchuk’s centering pass from near the right corner and sending a shot from top of the slot through traffic in front of the crease.
After missing on a two-man advantage, the Nanooks’ four-game, 0-for-24 power play ended at 3:14 into the third period, thanks to Morley rushing up to pop in a rebound of Campbell’s shot after Hammond kneeled to play to try to save the puck.
“We’ve got to start working hard again, getting pucks to the net. Doing the simple things helped us get it done this weekend,” Morley said of ending the power-play skid.
However, the Falcons found their power play wings at 4:57 with Cooper’s blast from the top of the slot during a two-man advantage, trimming Alaska’s lead to 3-2.
The Nanooks next play at Michigan on Jan. 11-12 and head to Notre Dame on Jan 18-19. They’re back at the Carlson Center on Jan. 25-26 against Northern Michigan.