FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Nanooks, according to head coach Dallas Ferguson, didn’t take advantage of some compete moments against the Miami RedHawks in Friday night’s opener of a Central Collegiate Hockey Association series in the Carlson Center.
The fourth-ranked and conference-leading visitors from Oxford, Ohio, took advantage of their movements for the first two periods to gain a 5-2 victory and continue an unbeaten streak on the season and on Alaska’s Olympic-size ice.
The loss, which dropped the Nanooks from sole possession of fifth place to a tie for fifth with Western Michigan, overshadowed senior right wing Andy Taranto reaching 100 points for his career in the second period.
“It’s pretty special, but a lot of my teammates, my coaching staff and my family, their hard work got me into that position,” Taranto said during the postgame media conference in the Pioneer Room.
Freshman right wing Nolan Huysmans also scored in the second and freshman goaltender John Keeney compiled 25 saves for Alaska (4-4-3-0 CCHA, 6-6-3 overall).
“If you look at the goals we gave up ... after two periods we give up 19 shots and five goals,” Ferguson assessed during the postgame media conference. “You could probably go through them and find a compete moment that we didn’t have tonight.
“That was the theme for me, just standing there watching the game,” Ferguson said. “There were some opportunities to win battles and we didn’t, and they obviously capitalized on that.”
The RedHawks, led by four players with two points apiece, capitalized on their skating to help build a 4-0 lead nearly midway through the second period and make it 5-2 late in the middle stanza.
Sophomore right wing Cody Murphy had two goals for the RedHawks (5-2-2-2, 8-2-3).
Miami got a goal and assist each from linemates Austin Czarnik, Riley Barber and Curtis McKenzie, and 31 saves from freshman goaltender Jay Williams to go to 4-0-2 in its last six games this season and improve to 6-0-1 in its last seven appearances in the Carlson Center.
“We were just focusing on the different plays working out of the corners, and we’ve got some real skilled offensive players,” Murphy said. “Obviously, Austin Czarnik, Riley Barber and Curtis McKenzie are continuing to produce offensively and I think all the other lines are trying to chip in any way they can.
“Once you get that first one, you’ve just keep trying to push it and play a full 60 (minutes),” Murphy said.
Czarnik registered the weekend’s first goal at 7:07 of the opening period. The RedHawks sophomore center took Matthew Caito’s short centering pass and weaved through two Nanooks before cutting across the front of the crease to sneak the puck low by Keeney.
“Caito was about to shoot it and I yelled for it, and luckily, I got it,” Czarnik said. “Their guy was in front of me, and I figured I’d do a little move and luckily, I did a little move and went five-hole.”
Murphy added the RedHawks’ second goal, and first power-play marker of the series, at 14:27 with a tap-in of Sean Kuraly’s backhand shot that got stuck on the right post.
The Nanooks ended the second period behind 5-2 and minus a skater, though Taranto made history for Alaska, and triggered some momentum for the hosts.
Taranto, on a 4-on-4 situation at the 13:25 mark, became the 18th player in the program’s history with 100 or more career points when his wrist shot from the slot that steamed in over Williams’ glove and rocked his water bottle on top of the net.
“Atkinson made a great play, driving hard to the net and kicking the puck out,” said Taranto, who has played in 124 career games. “I saw the middle open and I just wanted to get a puck on net, and it went in.”
Cody Kunyk assisted for his 71st career point and Huysmans had the other helper for his sixth career point.
Huysmans cut the lead to 4-2 at 16:08, cutting across the front of the crease to surprise Williams with a backhand.
McKenzie, a senior left wing, interrupted Alaska’s surge and quieted the crowd of 2,663 at 17:42, capping a 3-on-1 rush with an wrist shot from the right circle after Czarnik got a loose puck off of his skate and the gift went to McKenzie.
Miami had led 4-0 in the middle period with Barber’s shot from the low slot and inside the right post at 4:00 and Murphy’s goal on a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush with Marc Hagel at 11:16.
Nanooks senior left wing Jarret Granberg was assessed a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct at the end of the period after a hard hit to RedHawks freshman defenseman Taylor Richart near the right point in the Alaska zone.
The Nanooks eventually killed the 5-minute power play but saw Tyler Morley’s shorthanded goal waived off, as the referee ruled that freshman center had kicked in the puck when he rushed up to collected Colton Beck’s rebound and tap it through Williams’ pads at 3:16 into the third.
The Nanooks also missed taking advantage of a two-man advantage after the RedHawks’ Murphy and Blake Coleman received respective tripping and cross-checking minors at 8:43 of the third.
The Nanooks, though, mostly played inspired hockey in the scoreless third period, intensifying their forechecking while increasing their opportunities.
“It’s kind of our motto — we don’t quit, regardless of the score,” Ferguson said.
Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7586.