FAIRBANKS — In his first season of NCAA Division I hockey, Tyler Morley has made things happen rather than waiting for them to happen.
The freshman center leads the Alaska Nanooks with three goals and his four points is tied for third in team scoring for the Central Collegiate Hockey Association program.
“The coaching staff has given me confidence to go out there and do what I can do,” Morley said following Wednesday’s practice at the Carlson Center, where the Nanooks play host to the Lake Superior State Lakers in a CCHA series Friday and Saturday.
“I just try to play my game,” Morley continued. “I’m not scared to make mistakes; but when I do make mistakes, I try not to make them again.”
The 5-foot-8, 166-pound business major analyzes his performances through diligent film study.
“I really try to learn from my own play each week to be effective,” Morley said. “I watch film and go over things together (with the coaches and teammates).
“I really try to work hard on that part of my game and just worry about the defense first, and the offense will eventually come,” he added.
Morley came to the Nanooks from a four-season and logistically-convenient career with the Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey League. Morley generated 67 goals and 89 assists for 156 points in 208 career games for Surrey, located about 12 miles from his hometown of Burnaby, B.C.
Alaska head coach Dallas Ferguson said Morley is just asserting himself this season for the Nanooks.
“I think that’s the only way he knows how to do things,” Ferguson said Wednesday.
Freshmen often need time to adjust to the transition from junior hockey to the Division I game. That hasn’t been the case this season for Morley, who has skated in every game for Alaska, which is in a six-way tie for third place in the CCHA at 1-1-0-0 conference and 3-2-1 overall.
“He plays with intensity, he plays hard, he gets involved,” Ferguson said.
The speedy center was very noticable Saturday with 50 seconds left in the finale of a CCHA-opening series against then 18th-ranked Ferris State in Big Rapids, Mich. Morley delivered the game-winner in a 3-2 victory in the Ewigleben Ice Arena, one night after the Nanooks lost 6-3 to the Bulldogs, last season’s Division I national runner-up, Midwest Regional champion and CCHA regular-season titlist.
Left wings Jarret Granberg (senior) and Nolan Youngmun (sophomore) assisted on Morley’s series-splitting goal,which occurred not long after Morley won a faceoff against Bulldogs senior center Travis Ouellette.
“I knew there was a minute left, it (puck) was to my back and I just slapped it down the far zone,” Morley said. “Granny did a good job to force it and Younger was moving the puck around and he pinched down.”
Youngmun fed the puck to Granberg, who made a no-look, behind-the-back pass to Morley.
The Lake Superior State series is taking place during Parents Weekend for the Nanooks.
“We want to show our appreciation to them for the support they’ve given our players throughout the course of their careers, whether it’s here or leading up to getting here,” Ferguson said.
•The coaches luncheon, featuring Ferguson and Lake Superior State’s Jim Roque, starts at noon Friday at the Carlson Center. The cost is $15 per person and the menu is fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy.
• Junior left wing and Lathrop graduate Nona Letuligasenoa had one shot and an even plus-minus rating for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over host Vermont in a nonconference women’s game.
Junior left wing Jordan Smelker of Anchorage scored the game’s first goal and her third of the season for RPI of Troy, N.Y., and the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Freshman defenseman Dayna Colang of Fairbanks didn’t skate Wednesday for Vermont, but she has an assist in seven games this season for the Catamounts of Hockey East.