FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Nanooks weren’t happy with Friday night’s outcome in Big Rapids, Mich. They had a more upbeat disposition Saturday night after rallying for a
3-2 victory over 18th-ranked Ferris State University in the finale of the first Central Collegiate Hockey Association series of the season for both teams.
Freshman center Tyler Morley delivered the game-winner with 50 seconds left on the scoreboard clock in the Ewigleben Ice Arena.
Sophomore Nolan Youngmun, who filled in for Nik Yaremchuk after the senior right wing was injured in the first period, cycled the puck in the Bulldogs zone and passed to Jarret Granberg. The senior left wing then fed the puck to Morley, who sent the third goal of his collegiate career past goaltender C.J. Motte, who had backstopped Ferris State to a 6-3 win Friday.
“Granny made a nice no-look backhand pass to Tyler and he buried it. It was a great pass,” Nanooks head coach Dallas Ferguson said from Big Rapids.
Nanooks sophomore goaltender Sean Cahill raised his career record 1-0-1 after turning away 23 shots Saturday and linemates Cody Kunyk and Colton Beck accounted for the first two scores for Alaska (1-1-0-0 CCHA, 3-2-1 overall).
It was Alaska’s second victory is as many weeks against a nationally-ranked opponent. The Nanooks won 2-1 against then No. 2-ranked North Dakota on Oct. 20 for their third title in the fifth annual Brice Alaska Goal Rush at the Carlson Center.
Junior forwards Cory Kane and Garrett Thompson scored Saturday for Ferris State (1-1-0-0, 2-2-2) and Motte, a sophomore, finished with 36 saves.
The Nanooks led 3-2 Friday after the first period before giving up four straight goals.
“We were not happy with giving up six goals,” Ferguson said.
Ferris State took a 1-0 lead Saturday after taking advantage of a Nanooks turnover. Alaska freshman defenseman Colton Parayko lost the puck in the neutral zone and Bulldogs right wing Justin DeMartino recovered and passed to Kane, who scored at 10:39 of the opening period.
“We mishandled the puck and Ferris State capitalized on it,” Ferguson said. “The challenge is to always minimize turnovers.”
The Nanooks survived a two-man power play in the first after sophomore defenseman Trevor Campbell was assessed a boarding penalty at 14:25 and senior right wing Andy Taranto followed with a slashing minor at 14:40.
“I thought our leadership was strong tonight and a did a good job of preparing us,” Ferguson said. “We had our ups and downs tonight. We were down 1-0 after a turnover and then they had a 5-on-3 (power play), but our penalty killers did a great job.”
The Nanooks finished 0 for 6 on the power play but denied both Bulldogs’ chances.
Kunyk, a junior center, tied the score at 1 at 12:47 of the second period shortly after winning a faceoff. Kuynk scored his second of the season in front of Motte off of a rebound of Beck’s shot.
Beck, a junior left wing, put Alaska ahead 2-1 at 9:07 of the third period, taking a carom off Kunyk’s shot off of the end boards and tapping it in from the front of the crease.
Thompson, also a junior left wing, evened the score on a second-chance opportunity later in the third. Cahill had seemingly smothered a shot from Kyle Bonis with his glove, but the puck came out to Cahill’s right side and Thompson poked it in at 14:12 of the final period.
Ferris State freshman defenseman Sean O’Rourke, a former Fairbanks Ice Dog, had two shots and a plus-minus rating of -1 on Saturday.
The Nanooks play host to the Lake Superior State Lakers in a CCHA series at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Carlson Center. The Lakers swept the Nanooks in two games of a first-round playoff series last March in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.