The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ power play came to life at the right time Friday night.
Junior defenseman Chris Jandric’s goal with the man-advantage proved to be the game-winner for the Nanooks in a 3-2 victory over Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, in the first Western Collegiate Hockey Association series of the season for both teams.
“The guys worked their tails off. We had a good effort,” Nanooks head coach Erik Largen said by phone. “I thought all the guys were involved in the game.”
Sophomore goaltender Gustavs Grigals recorded 16 saves for the Nanooks, who are 1-2-0 overall and 1-0-0-0 WCHA for first place in the 10-team NCAA Division I conference because the matchup at Michigan Tech’s John J. MacInnes Student Ice Arena is the only conference series this weekend.
“We’re happy to get three points (in the WCHA standings for a conference win), but we know we’ve got to bring a higher level (of play) tomorrow (today),”Largen said.
The Nanooks and Huskies (2-1-0, 0-1-0-0 WCHA) close the series with today’s game at 2:07 p.m. AKDT.
The Nanooks finished 0 for 10 on the power play during their season-opening losses to the second-ranked Denver University Pioneers at the Carlson Center. UAF lost 4-3 on Saturday and 3-0 on Sunday to the Pioneers, of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
The power-play drought ended at 11:41 of the second period Friday, as Jandric scored with junior center Max Newton’s assist.
“It was a good play, it was a good keep-in by the rest of the (UAF power play) unit,” Largen said. “Chris ended up having a nice finish right off the back side of the net.
“It was good to get the power play restarted.”
The Nanooks finished 1 for 5 on the power play Friday and denied the Huskies’ five opportunities. UAF is 13 for 14 in penalty kills this season.
Jandric’s first goal of 2019-20 also capped a 3-0 surge by the Nanooks in the second period, after the teams ended the first period scoreless.
Senior right wing Kylar Hope produced the series’ first goal at 12 seconds into the middle period off assists from senior left wing Tyler Cline and freshman center Eriks Zohovs.
Junior right wing Justin Young stretched the lead to 2-0 with helpers from defensemen Garrett Pyke (freshman) and James LaDouce (senior) with 4:24 of the second period.
Unlike their season opener against Denver, the Nanooks avoided losing control of the scoreboard. The Nanooks were ahead 2-1 in the first period against the Pioneers in Saturday’s contest.
“We just found a way to be able to finish,” Largen said of Friday’s outcome at Michigan Tech. “You end up getting a couple of big timely saves, or some things end up happening where you’re able to control a little more of the momentum of the game.”
The Huskies got on the scoreboard at 13:53 of the second, with right wing Brian Halonen’s goal that was set up by Trenton Bliss and Logan Pietila.
Fellow right wing Tommy Parrottino, with help from Parker Saretsky and Colin Swoyer, cut UAF’s lead to 3-2 at 18:46 of the third period.
Matt Jurisik, the reigning WCHA Goaltender of the Week, registered 19 saves for the Huskies, who were coming off a season-opening sweep at Robert Morris in Pittsburgh.
Michigan Tech won 2-1 in overtime Saturday and 7-0 on Sunday over the Colonials, of Atlantic Hockey.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports