FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Nanooks entered Saturday night’s game against Canisius in contention for the title in Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage. They instead had to contend with the 6-foot-5, 222-pound fortress of Golden Griffins goaltender Keegan Asmundsun and costly turnovers on the way to a 3-1 loss in Sullivan Arena.
“It was too much puck watching in the first 40 minutes and Canisius competed and capitalized on their opportunities,” Alaska head coach Dallas Ferguson said from Anchorage. “We had a good push in the third (period) but we didn’t capitalize on our opportunities.”
Asmundsun, a redshirt freshman, had withstood 33 shots from the Nanooks until 5 seconds left in the game. The Nanooks had pulled freshman goaltender John Keeney for an extra attacker with 1:11 on the clock. Freshman center Tyler Morley took advantage, forcing his second goal of the weekend through a crowd in front of the crease. Sophomore right wing Nolan Youngmun, playing in his hometown, recorded his first career assist on the play.
Keeney finished with 22 saves in his first collegiate start.
Alaska outshot Canisius 16-2 in the third period, starting the period with two breakaways and later hitting posts twice on scoring attempts.
“If you score on one of those breakaways, all of sudden it changes the dynamics of the game,” said Ferguson, “but we didn’t get our first goal until (five) seconds left in the game.”
Alaska also finished 0 for 6 on the power play, ending the tournament 0 for 8. The Nanooks denied five power plays by Canisius.
The Nanooks had hoped to add to the Kendall titles they captured in 2008 and 2009, the first two of five straight appearances for the Central Collegiate Hockey
Association program in the season-opening tournament hosted by the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves.
The Nanooks put themselves in contention for this year’s title with a 3-3 tie and ensuing 2-1 shootout victory over the Air Force Academy in Friday’s opening game of the tournament. Air Force and UAA played to a 3-3 overtime tie Saturday, but the Seawolves gained the title based on points in the standings. Both teams went unbeaten but UAA gained three points with a win and tie and the Falcons two with consecutive ties.
The loss to the Golden Griffins, who like Air Force are an Atlantic Hockey Association member, means that Nanooks will have wait until next year to vie for their third Kendall honor.
“I’m disappointed in the fact that we knew coming into the game that we had to compete and work hard, and then we had nothing to come away with,” Ferguson said. “I think they thought we’ll come out, we’ll score and we’ll win, and then we’ll see what happens with the rest of the tournament.
“Canisius came ready to play and their goaltender was solid,” Ferguson said.
The first two goals for the 1-1-0 Golden Griffins of Buffalo, N.Y., occured off of turnovers by the Nanooks (0-1-1).
Left wing Torrey Lindsay got open in front of the net at 3:03 for the Golden Griffins’ first goal of 2012-13.
Left wing Preston Shupe scored at 13:51 of the first not long after a faceoff.
Center Matthew Grazen delivered for Canisius on a 4-on-4 situation at 7:21 of the second period for a 3-0 lead.
Asmundson withstood 18 shots from the Nanooks for the first two periods while Keeney saw 23 shots.
The Nanooks play host to their fourth annual Brice Alaska Goal Rush on Friday and Saturday at the Carlson Center. The Nanooks open against the Merrimack Warriors of Hockey East at 8:05 p.m. Friday and take on the University of North Dakota of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association at
7:05 p.m. Saturday.
UAA faces North Dakota, a WCHA rival, at 5:05 p.m. Friday, and meets Merrimack at 4:05 p.m. Saturday.
Merrimack, 1-1-0, is coming off of a 4-2 loss to Northeastern in a Hockey East game Friday in Boston, while North Dakota won 6-4 on the same night against the U.S. Under-18 National Team in an exhibition in Grand Forks, N.D.
Jordan Kwas, Matt Bailey and Alex Gellert scored for UAA against Air Force, while the Falcons got goals from Stephen Carew, Tony Thomas and John Kruse. Air Force’s Jason Torf had 11 saves and UAA’s Rob Gunderson made 20. ... Host Penn State, coached by former Nanooks head coach Guy Gadowsky (1999-2004), pulled out a 4-3 overtime victory against American International to split its inaugural regular-season series. American International won 3-2 in overtime in Friday’s series opener.