FAIRBANKS — For the first time since the season-opening Kendall Hockey Classic on Oct. 11-12, there was no comeback. No last-ditch efforts to claim some points.
Instead the Alaska Nanooks decided to play with the lead and keep it as they held on to beat Northern Michigan 5-4 Friday night at the Carlson Center.
It was the Nanooks’ first Western Collegiate Hockey Association game.
Two goals from the Wildcats in the third made the game much closer than what the Nanooks would have liked.
“We took a penalty we certainly can’t take, we get a broken stick, a broken play and the puck’s in the net,” head coach Dallas Ferguson said. “Then all of a sudden we get a little running around in our zone, get it on our stick and it’s a turnover.”
The Wildcats’ (2-5-0, 1-2-0 WCHA) Cohen Adair scored twice and had opportunities as time was winding down to complete the hat trick and tie the game.
“He was out of the lineup for a couple games,” Wildcat head coach Walt Kyle said. “It’s good to see him back in it. It’s good to see him play with that kind of intensity and focus.”
The Nanooks (4-1-2, 1-0-0 WCHA) scored three times in the second period to take a 5-2 lead into the intermission. It was just the second time this season that the Nanooks held the lead going into the third period.
“You can’t dig yourself a hole like that and expect to come back,” Kyle said. “I was proud that the guys didn’t roll over, we stayed right in it.”
The play that really hurt the Wildcats was a cross-checking penalty on Wade Epp right after Marcus Basara scored the Nanooks’ second goal of the second period.
“Frustration penalty, real stupid. Cost us another goal,” Kyle said. “That’s the difference in the hockey game.”
Thirteen different Nanooks recorded at least one point on Family Night, led by Tyler Morley’s goal and assist. Among those scoring points were four freshmen, with center Shawn Hochhausen and left wing Brandon Morley each scoring their first career goals.
“A lot of guys contributed tonight,” Brandon Morley said. “It wasn’t just our top line like it was last weekend. It’s good to start get the secondary scoring and get all the lines going.”
Brandon scored his goal just under two minutes after Tyler scored in the first period to put the Nanooks up 2-0.
“It’s always nice to get the first one,” Brandon said. “Couldn’t have picked a better weekend.”
Hochhausen scored what would become the game-winning goal with under three minutes left in the second. Hochhausen found the puck in the left faceoff circle and ripped a shot past Wildcats goalie Michael Doan’s blocker. It put the Nanooks ahead 5-2.
“Pretty excited to get obviously,” Hocchhausen said. “No better weekend to get it than when the family’s all here.”
The Nanooks and Wildcats faceoff again today at 7:07 p.m. at the Carlson Center.
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