The Alaska Nanooks learned firsthand why the Ferris State Bulldogs are ranked No. 10 in the USCHO.com poll and are undefeated in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 4-0 lead early in the third period and held on as the Nanooks scored three straight in the period to cut the deficit to one.
An empty-net goal from Kenny Babinski sealed the Bulldogs’ 5-3 win.
“We scored three. We should be in a position to win a hockey game,” head coach Dallas Ferguson said by cellphone. “We can’t give up five and think we’re going to win a bunch of hockey games this year. We have to better defensively.”
The Nanooks (5-4-2, 2-3-0 WCHA) trailed 3-0 entering the third, when Chad McDonald scored 44 seconds in to put the Bulldogs (9-2-1, 6-0-1 WCHA) up 4-0.
But the Nanooks, who outshot the Bulldogs 44-32 for the game, just kept shooting and they eventually were able to beat Bulldogs goalie CJ Motte.
Marcus Basara scored the first of the Nanooks three goals, all coming in a span of 6:24. Basara scored on a backhand in front of Motte.
“You can’t stop shooting it. You don’t shoot, you won’t score,” Cody Kunyk said by cellphone.
Kunyk would score at the 10:21 mark of the third, cutting the deficit to two. The goal was Kunyk’s 100th career point, making him the 30th Nanooks to reach 100 career points.
“Pretty excited,” Kunyk said. “More focused on cutting the lead in half.”
Kunyk had been on the verge of reaching 100 since he recorded three points against Mercyhurst Oct. 25 to put him at 98 career points.
“Enough people have been asking me when I’m getting it,” a relieved Kunyk said.
Tyler Morley brought the Nanooks within one with his fifth goal of the season at the 11:36 mark of the third period.
“Our transition game was really effective in the third period,” Ferguson said. “I thought we attacked the net pretty well. We put ourselves in a position to get back in the hockey game but it certainly wasn’t enough.”
“We left everything on the ice,” Kunyk said of the third period.
The Nanooks had plenty of chances to score during the game, especially the second period. That period Motte stopped all 15 Nanooks’ shots.
“We created the scoring chances. Their goaltender played really well. He was the difference in the game,” Ferguson said. “We have to find a way to capitalize on those opportunities.”
“By far the best player on the ice,” Kunyk said of Motte.
With the help of his penalty killers, Motte and the Bulldogs were able to kill off Corey Kane’s five-minute major penalty for checking from behind.
Dom Panetta, Matt Robertson, and Jason Binkley also scored for the Bulldogs.
The Nanooks and Bulldogs faceoff again today at 3:07 p.m. AST.
Contact sports reporter Tim O’Donnell at 459-7583. Follow him on Twitter: