FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Nanooks saw the same type of Lake Superior State University team on Saturday night that they experienced in Friday’s opener of their Central Collegiate Hockey Association series in the Carlson Center.
The only difference Saturday for Alaska was it lost 4-2 while recording 50 shots for the first time in a game since 2008. The last time was a 52-shot effort in a 2-1 triple-overtime loss at Nebraska-Omaha in the deciding game of a best-of-three, CCHA first-round playoff series
Senior right wing and
96-point career scorer Andy Taranto accounted for both Nanooks goals Saturday night in the third period. Sophomore goaltender Sean Cahill registered 21 saves in the first loss of his career for Alaska, which slipped from a three-way for first place into a six-way tie for first at at 2-2-0-0 CCHA and 4-3-1 overall.
Among those tied with the Nanooks are the Lakers (2-2-0-0, 4-4-0).
Nanooks head coach Dallas Ferguson expected Saturday’s contest to resemble Friday’s game, won 2-1 by Alaska.
“It was similar to last night in there’s a lot of tight checking, and there’s opportunities but you’ve got guys leaning on you,” Ferguson said during the postgame media conference in the Pioneer Room. “I thought the effort was there again from our guys, and I think we created the scoring chances. But for us, it wasn’t going in the net, credit their goaltender.
“He was really strong and they played desperate in front of him,” Ferguson said. “They blocked a lot of shots.”
The Lakers generated 36 blocks to the Nanooks’ eight.
Lake Superior junior goaltender Kevin Murdock finished with 48 saves to go with the 37 he made Friday.
“I just used the performance I had last night to build my confidence up a little bit,” Murdock said Saturday outside the Lakers’ lockerroom.
Murdock was supported by two goals from junior center Dan Radke and singles from senior right wing Domenic Monardo and sophomore defenseman Kevin Czuczman.
Taranto, after Murdock had turned away 46 shots for nearly 2 3/4 periods, broke up the Lakers’ shutout bid when he broke to the net at 14:39 into the third, scoring at the right post with a rebound of Jarret Granberg’s shot from a rush. Granberg, a senior left wing, had received junior defenseman Michael Quinn’s pass from near the left point.
“It was a great drive by Quinn getting in the zone,” Taranto said. “We had been working on those soft-area plays, chipping in behind the ‘D’ and attacking the net. Granny was there, threw it to the front and luckily, I got a stick on it.”
Taranto struck again at 18:28 of the third, taking team captain and senior center Adam Henderson’s faceoff draw and stepping into the slot to put in his second of the night off of the left post.
The Nanooks brought out Cahill for an extra attacker, but Radke sealed the split with an empty-net deposit at 18:58 of the third.
Alaska, by end of the second period, had twice as many shots as Lake Superior (36-18), but trailed 2-0.
After the Nanooks denied four power plays Friday, Monardo provided Saturday’s first score with the man advantage, launching a shot from the top of the left circle past Cahill’s glove side at 7:48 of the opening period.
Radke made it 2-0 at 7:12 of a penalty-rich second period. The Orinda, Calif., native took Nick McParland’s centering pass from outside the right circle and swept in a backhand at the right post.
“I think we worked hard last night, but our heads weren’t quite there,” Radke said.
“We came back and played our systems much better than last night, and the power-play goal in the first was huge because our power play struggled a bit last night,” Radke added.
The teams combined for nine penalties in the second period for 18 minutes, including six roughing after the whistle minors. Lake Superior received four penalties in the period for eight minutes and while Alaska was assessed five for 10 minutes
The Nanooks started the third period at an uptempo pace but they fell into a 3-0 hole, as Czuczman scored on a 3-on-1 breakaway at the 3:09. It was the sophomore’s first goal of the season and a redeeming deposit after his holding penalty late in the third period Friday led to the Nanooks’ game-winning power-play goal.
The Nanooks face Ohio State in a CCHA series in Columbus, Ohio, at 3:05 p.m. AST Friday and Saturday.