FAIRBANKS — Special teams came through big for the Alaska Nanooks hockey team Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio.
The Nanooks scored a power-play goal and a short-handed goal while killing off a 5-minute major penalty and held the Ohio State Buckeyes to 1 for 5 on the power play in skating to a 3-1 Central Collegiate Hockey Association victory.
“We certainly got enough practice at penalty kills this weekend and our guys did a good job with that,” Ferguson said. “We pretty much managed to avoid any harm from their power play.”
Leading 2-1 in the third period, Alaska’s Nolan Youngman was called for a five-minute major roughing penalty at the 14:05 mark.
The Nanooks not only killed off the penalty, they managed to score a shorthanded goal to secure the victory.
Defenseman Michael Quinn poked the puck away from an Ohio State player and Adam Henderson scooped up the puck and beat Ohio State goalie Collin Olson with a backhand shot at the 18:42 mark.
“When it’s 2-1 and you are trying to kill off a 5-minute penalty, to get a goal at that was huge,” Ferguson said. “Michael Quinn did a great job to keep the pressure on and Adam had good instincts to take off with the puck.”
It was Henderson’s first goal of the season. He also had an assist on Jarret Granberg’s game-winning goal at 7:39 of the third period. It was Granberg’s first goal of the season and Trevor Campbell also received an assist.
Ohio State scored it’s lone goal with 45 seconds left in the first period when Chris Crane lit the lamp while the Buckeyes were playing with a two-man advantage. It was the only power-play goal the Nanooks allowed all weekend.
Alaska tied the game with one minute remaining in the second period, when Colton Beck beat Olson for Alaska’s power-play goal with assists going to Andy Taranto and Colton Parayjko.
The wins boosted the Nanooks (5-3-2 overall, 3-2-1-0 CCHA) into sole possession of second-place in the CCHA standings, one point behind the league-leading Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (6-2-2, 3-2-2-1),
“We focus on getting points every weekend and if you can get more than three points, you can start making up ground on the teams ahead of you,” Ferguson said.
The Nanooks peppered Ohio State with 45 shots on goal. The Nanooks had 35 shots on goal in Friday night’s 1-1 tie.
Alaska freshman goalie John Keeney had a second straight outstanding performance making 32 saves to preserve his first collegiate hockey win. He made 33 saves in Friday night’s game.
“He was ‘Mr. Steady’ all weekend long,” Ferguson said. “He was very composed, he didn’t give up any bad rebounds and he did a good job with traffic in front of the net.”
The Nanooks return home to host the Western Michigan Broncos Friday and Saturday at the Carlson Center.
Both games will start at 7:35 p.m. to avoid conflict with the GCI Alaska Invitational men’s basketball tournament at the Patty Center.