FAIRBANKS—On the same night, the Alaska Nanooks saw their power play click and their first win of the season emerge.
The Nanooks rallied to a 3-2 victory over the Merrimack Warriors on Friday, setting up a bid for a third title in their Brice Alaska Goal Rush in the Carlson Center.
“We were down 2-0 and we responded in a positive way. Our power play kind of got that energy for us,” Nanooks assistant coach Lance West said in the postgame media conference in the Pioneer Room.
The Nanooks, who garnered titles in 2009 and 2010, will face North Dakota at 7:05 tonight.
Second-ranked UND rolled to a 5-0 win over the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves earlier Friday.
The Nanooks got their scoring Friday from freshman center Tyler Morley, sophomore defenseman Trevor Campbell and junior center Cody Kunyk. Wings and linemates Quinn Gould (sophomore) and Mike Collins (junior) scored for the Warriors of Hockey East.
Senior goaltender Steve Thompson registered 27 saves in his first start of the season for the Nanooks and Warriors junior Sam Marotta made 30 saves.
The 1-1-1 Nanooks thawed while rallying to take a 3-2 lead in the second period.
Morley redirected in his third collegiate goal, courtesy of freshman defenseman Josh Atkinson’s shot from the top of the left circle during a power play at 4:37. Campbell provided his first career goal on a man-advantage session at 8:45, capitalizing on assists from seniors Jarret Granberg and Nik Yaremchuk.
Kunyk redirected in Atkinson’s blast from the left point when he scored his first goal of the season and 65th career point at 17:11 during another extra-skater moment for the Nanooks.
Before the rally, the Nanooks were 0 for 10 on the power play, including 0 for 8 last week against the Air Force Academy and Canisius in the season-opening Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage.
“We just tried to keep it simple and get shots through, and guys were crashing the net,” Campbell said of the improvements the Nanooks made to their power play during practices this week.
Turnovers, which hampered the Nanooks in a 3-1 loss to Canisius, were factors in Merrimack pulling out to a 2-0 lead Friday.
“After that (Canisius) game, that was an area that we wanted to improve on. We wanted to keep control of the puck,” Granberg said.
Following a Nanooks turnover in the neutral zone, Gould stuffed a rebound of Brian Christie’s backhand shot under Thompson’s pad at 14:47 of the first period.
Merrimack had just killed Alaska’s second power play of the night when Collins collected the puck and bolted to the left circle to send a wrist shot over Thompson’s glove-side shoulder at 2:02 into the second period.
The Warriors were assessed nine penalties for 18 minutes compared to Alaska’s four for eight minutes.
Merrimack, 1-2-0, had five straight penalties early in the second period.
“When you get called for penalties back after back after back, it wears you out,” Warriors head coach Mark Dennehy said. “You’ve got to use the same guys, and at this time of the year, you don’t have that many guys prepared to kill.
“We played pretty good 5-on-5 . . . we should play more 5-on-5,” Dennehy later added.
Merrimack meets UAA at 4:05 p.m. today.
Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7586.