Spectators saw plenty of firsts Friday at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ first of two nonconference matchups against Arizona State at the Carlson Center — the first career goals for freshman Filip Fornaa Svennson and sophomore Caleb Hite and the Nanooks’ first ever win over the Sun Devils.
The win puts UAF at 6-5 overall and above .500 for the second time this season. The record between the two teams stands at 3-1.
“It was a good win for us, we’re happy with that, but we know it’s going to be a tough test tomorrow. They’re going to elevate their game and we’re going to need to as well,” Nanooks head coach Erik Largen said after the game.
Arizona State (5-3 overall) is coming off a 21-13-1 season. The Pac-12 opponent made their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in March, when they fell to the then No. 2 Quinnipiac Bobcats.
The Sun Devils swept the No. 9/9 Bobcats last weekend on the road.
Fornaa Svennson tied the game at 1-1 after receiving a pass from Didrik Henbrandt 1:25 into the second period.
“The first feeling was probably just relief. … It was hard,” the freshman from Linkoping, Sweden, said about his first five appearances as a Nanook where he contributed no points.
“Now I can just take it easy a little bit and play my game.”
Less than 10 minutes later he found the net again after an assist from Colton Leiter.
Before the voice on the loudspeaker had even finished announcing the freshman’s second career goal, Hite scored his first in the blue and gold uniform to put UAF ahead 3-1 with 7:32 remaining in the second period.
The forward and former Ice Dog made five shots and six blocks as a freshman over 19 games. Friday’s gave was his fourth game of the season.
The Nanooks held the two point lead through the end of the period and 9:49 minutes into the third when ASU’s Jacob Wilson passed to James Sanchez who scored.
Thirty-three seconds later slashing put Nanook forward Justin Young in the penalty box and 13 seconds into their power play Johnny Walker tied the game 3-3 for the Sun Devils. Alaska is 49-of-55 on the penalty kill this season.
Kylar Hope scored the winning goal with 3:26 remaining in the game. The goal was his second of the season.
The Sun Devils played without an empty net the final two minutes.
“There were some close calls there. They had a couple of really good looks and just pucks bounced over their stick,” Largen said.
“I’m just a big believer in you earn your breaks and you earn your balances and the guys have earned that extra balance.”
Nanook goaltender Anton Martisson made 27 saves Friday. The senior ranks fourth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with a 2 GAA and .934 save percentage.
“He’s been seeing pucks real well and fighting through traffic and he made key saves at key times for us and gave us an opportunity to win the game,” Largen said about the senior.
This is the Sun Devils second trip to Alaska. The first was for the team’s first ever official games as a Division I program in 2015 against University of Alaska Anchorage and UAF.
The Nanooks and Sun Devils start the second half of their two-game series tomorrow when the puck drops at 7:07 p.m. at the Carlson Center.
Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.