Justin Young helped the University of Alaska Fairbanks earn a rare road win in Marquette, Michigan, and create a crowd at the top of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings.
The junior right wing from Leduc, Alberta, delivered the game-winning goal more than halfway through the second period to lift the Nanooks to a 3-2 victory over the Northern Michigan Wildcats in the Berry Events Center in Marquette.
Markuss Komuls and Steven Jandric contributed first-period goals and senior goaltender Anton Martinsson made 32 saves for the Nanooks, who before Saturday were 3-25-7 in Marquette and 14-43-12 all-time in the series.
Saturday’s victory on the Berry’s Olympic-size ice (200-by-100 feet) improved the Nanooks to 7-7-0 overall and 5-3-0-0 WCHA for 15 points in the standings and a first-place tie with Northern Michigan and the Minnesota State Mavericks, who were idle this weekend.
“It was a good win, a really good road win,” UAF head coach Erik Largen said by phone. “I thought we played well and we played a good team game.
“Points right now (in the standings) are so important, and we know Northern’s going to be a team that’s going to be in the top of the standings. Being able to take three points from them on the road is important.”
A win in regulation or overtime in the WCHA is worth three points in the standings.
Young, with assists from senior center Colton Leiter and freshman left wing Didrik Henbrant, recorded the game-winner and his fifth goal of the season at 10:07 of the second period after the Wildcats had made it 2-2 with consecutive tallies earlier in the stanza.
Young’s game-winning effort started with him working the puck down low in the Wildcats’ end of the ice.
“He got the front of the net and he was able to get good positioning and he finished it on the rebound,” Largen said.
Komuls, a freshman defenseman, provided the game’s first goal at 11:11 of the opening period with assists from Leiter and freshman right wing Filip Fornaa Svensson. It also was the first collegiate goal for Komuls, a native of Talsi, Latvia and former member of the North American Hockey League’s Kenai River Brown Bears, of Soldotna.
Junior left wing Steven Jandric made it 2-0 with help from freshman defenseman Roberts Kalkis and Young. Jandric had an assist on senior defenseman James LaDouce’s goal in UAF’s 2-1 loss Friday night.
Junior defenseman Ben Newhouse and sophomore center Ty Readman scored in the second period for the Wildcats, who lost a conference game for the first time this season.
Newhouse made it 2-1 at 2:44 with helpers from junior right wing Caleb Schroer and sophomore center Garrett Klee. Readman produced the game’s only power-play goal at 6:07, courtesy of assists from seniors Darien Craighead (right wing) and Philip Beaulieu (defenseman).
Martinsson denied 11 shots in the scoreless third period, where the Nanooks generated only three shots.
“In the first period, we did a good job of limiting chances,” said Largen, “but in the third, he came up with some really big stops to be able to keep it 3-2.
“You’re not going to get wins against good teams without good goaltending.”
Freshman John Hawthorne had 22 saves for the Wildcats (7-3-2, 5-1-0-0 WCHA).
The Nanooks host the Ferris State Bulldogs, of Big Rapids, Michigan, in a WCHA series at 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Carlson Center.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.