FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Nanooks’ misery in Marquette continued in Friday night’s opener of a Central Collegiate Hockey Association series, thanks to an overtime short-handed goal from a Northern Michigan senior who was hasn’t scored often in his career.
The Nanooks lost 4-3 to the Wildcats in the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich., after leading 2-0 in the first period and rallying to a 3-3 tie with Andy Taranto’s short-handed goal and 99th career point near the end of regulation.
The senior right wing is one point away from becoming the 18th player in team history with 100 or more career points.
Seniors Adam Henderson and Jarrett Granberg scored in the first period, and senior goaltender Steve Thompson finished with 14 saves for Alaska, which slipped from fourth to fifth place at 4-4-1-0 CCHA and 6-5-2 overall.
Alaska is 6-28-11 in the all-time series, including 1-16-6 in Marquette. Its last win on the Berry’s Olympic-size ice was a 2-1 decision Feb. 5, 2005.
The nearly eight-year drought in the city on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula seemed on the way to ending. Northern Michigan, though, answered Alaska’s first-period jump with three goals in a row in the second period.
“We got the start we wanted, and then we got away from the details,” Nanooks head coach Dallas Ferguson said from Marquette. “We turned over some pucks in the neutral zone and Northern Michigan capitalized on their opportunities.
“I told the guys that if you go out and play like that, play a game of chance, most of the time you’re not going to win,” Ferguson added. “The details need to be better for us to move forward.”
Scott Macaulay scored the game-winner at 52 seconds into overtime to end a five-game winless streak for the Wildcats, who improved to 2-5-2-0 CCHA and 5-6-2 overall to move from last place to 10th place.
The defenseman, whose three career goals have all come this season, sent his unassisted shot over Thompson’s glove side while the Nanooks were on their fourth power play, courtesy of Ryan Daugherty’s cross-checking penalty with 5 seconds left in the third period.
“He means a lot to us all over the ice. He’s a very good player and he’s a very underrated player in the league,” Wildcats head coach Walt Kyle said of Macaulay, who also had an assist.
Northern Michigan was on its fourth power play after Nanooks freshman center Tyler Morley received an indirect contact-to-the-head minor with 1:51 left in the third. Taranto forced overtime by collecting the puck near the blue line and putting a shot over the shoulder of Wildcats goaltender Jared Coreau with 56 seconds remaining in the third.
“It was a nice play; he chipped it out. We had talked about being aggressive,” Ferguson said of the game-tying goal that was assisted by Granberg and sophomore defenseman Trevor Campbell, who finished with two helpers.
The Nanooks played aggressively in the first period, starting at 7:19 into the period with a goal in the low slot from Henderson. The Alaska center and team captain was assisted by senior wings Chad Gehon and Nik Yaremchuk, who had missed six games because of a lower-body injury.
Campbell passed to Granberg at 15:43, when the senior right wing’s shot from a faceoff circle went between Coreau’s pads.
“Adam’s was a good hustle goal. We were getting pucks in deep,” Ferguson said. “His line did a good job of controlling the puck. Granny’s goal came at the end of a power play, and Trevor made a good play.”
Northern Michigan rallied for the lead in a span of nearly 9 1/2 minutes.
Left wing Jake Johnson, with his first of two points in the second period, scored the Wildcats’ first goal at 3:08 with Robert Lindores’ assist.
Center Kory Kaunisto, aided by Macaulay and Johnson, tied the score at 6:50, and defenseman Wade Epp gave the Wildcats a 3-2 edge at 12:37 with help from CJ Ludwig and Reed Seckel.
“We didn’t do anything special,” Kyle said. “We were just worried about taking care of business and trying to get pucks to the net.”
Following tonight’s series finale, the Nanooks play host to back-to-back CCHA series at the Carlson Center. Alaska faces Miami (Ohio) Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and Bowling Green State Dec. 7-8. Each game starts at 7:05 p.m.
Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7586.