FAIRBANKS — Alaska Nanooks head coach Dallas Ferguson saw three different games for his team Friday night, and he saw its winless streak to increase to six games.
The sixth-place Nanooks lost 3-2 to the last-place Bowling Green State Falcons in the opener of a Central Collegiate Hockey Association series in the Carlson Center.
The Nanooks (4-7-2-0 CCHA, 6-8-3 overall) seemed out of a sync in the first period while trailing 1-0.
“I thought in the first period Bowling Green had a little more competitive edge than us. They were winning more battles,” Ferguson said during the postgame media conference in the Pioneer Room.
Alaska tied the game at 1 in the second period before Bowling Green (2-6-2-1, 3-9-3) responded with two more goals to eventually seal only its third win of the season.
“I think in the second period we had a better push, we got a little more of a forecheck going and we got on some pucks,” Ferguson continued. “Obviously, you give up those two goals in front of the net, and I didn’t particularly like the way they scored those goals. They were backchecking, they were stopping front and there was some loose pucks and we didn’t execute on those.”
The Nanooks outshot the visitors from Ohio 22-4 in the third period on the way to a 41-24 advantage in shots for the night.
“We put ourselves in a tough spot going into the third period, but the third period was a different game within itself,” the Nanooks coach added. “We certainly competed hard and we had some great scoring chances, and Hammond played really well.”
Falcons senior goaltender Andrew Hammond said he wasn’t aware until after the game that Friday marked his 100th career start. He was aware of the Nanooks’ presence, particularly in a scoreless and penalty-free third period.
“I don’t know if I believe whether it was meant to be a good game or not, but it turned out to be a pretty good one,” Hammond said after his 39-save effort.
Hammond said that the opening faceoff of the third period got him into a zone for the final 20 minutes of the contest.
“As a goalie, sometimes it’s good to see a lot of pucks versus having to wait for a high-quality chance” Hammond said. “The fact that it was high pressure for the most part almost benefitted me.”
The Nanooks, 0-4-2 in their last six games, got goals from left wings Maxime Dumond (sophomore) and Chad Gehon (senior) and sophomore goaltender Sean Cahill compiled 13 saves in his first start since Nov. 3, a 4-2 loss to Lake Superior State at the Carlson Center.
Bowling Green got goals from junior right wings Bryce Williamson and Brett Mohler and freshman left wing Mark Cooper.
The Nanooks spent most of the third period in the Falcons zone, but Hammond’s netminding and Bowling Green’s skaters taking away passing lanes and occasionally applying tight backchecking helped deny another Nanooks rally.
“Our error for margin right now is so small” said Falcons head coach Chris Bergeron, whose team was a six-game skid (0-5-1) before coming to Alaska. “That’s not one person’s fault, that’s where we’re at as a program, so we have to be good at those details — passing lanes, shot lanes, backchecking, those kind of things.
“Alaska took their game up a level (in the third period), which you would think they would do down two goals at home, and we didn’t,” Bergeron added, “and that’s the sign of a team that hasn’t won much.”
Hammond’s saves in the third included flashing the glove on Gehon’s shot from the low slot through a screen at 13:23 and denying Nolan Youngmun’s solo breakaway at 16:28.
Gehon, before his screen shot was denied, and sophomore defenseman Justin Tateson each ended droughts to pull the Nanooks within a goal, 3-2, at 6:50 of the third period.
Tateson unleashed a shot from outside the left circle that Gehon redirected over Hammond’s glove-side shoulder. It was only Tateson’s second point of the season, and his first since an assist in a 6-3 loss at Ferris State on Oct. 26. Gehon scored for the third time this season, and for the first time since a 6-1 home win over Western Michigan on Nov. 16.
The Nanooks found themselves trailing by two goals (3-1) in the second period after rallying to a 1-1 tie.
In his 13th career game, Dumond scored his first collegiate goal, evening the score at 1 at 4:08 into the second period.
Hammond stopped two shots — Trevor Campbell’s wrister from the right circle and made a sprawling save of Alec Hajdukovich’s rebound attempt from the left circle. Dumond snuck up from the left side with the rebound of Hajdukovich’s effort and poked it under Hammond.
“I thought it was a good time to score and we needed a boost,” Dumond said, “but at the same time, I’d enjoy it a lot more if we won tonight.”
Dumond didn’t play for most of last season because of two herniated discs in his lower back.
Bowling Green pulled in front 2-1 at 14:12 of the second period, as Camden Wojtala corraled a free puck from behind the net and centered a pass in front to Mohler, who tipped it between Cahill’s pads.
Cooper, aided by Dan DeSalvo and Bobby Shea, capped a staggered attack and delivered the game-winner with a short backhand from in front of the crease at 16:38.
“We’ve got to take a positive out of everything. You can help the team in any way, and I did that tonight,” Cooper said of his first career game-winner.
Williamson produced for the weekend’s first goal at 9:19 of the opening period from a rebound of Marcus Perrier’s shot from the left point.
Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7586.