Nanooks hockey

University of Alaska Fairbanks goaltender Gustavs Grigals loosens up while a group of his teammates discuss strategy before a penalty-killing session against Lake Superior State during the second period of Friday night's Western Collegiate Hockey Association game at the Carlson Center. Jan. 10, 2020 Danny Martin/News-Miner

University of Alaska Fairbanks head coach Erik Largen didn’t like the Nanooks’ efforts in the first period Friday night at the Carlson Center.

He did enjoy the other two periods of the series-opening Western Collegiate Hockey Association game against the Lake Superior State Lakers.

The Nanooks, after a scoreless opening period, rallied for 2-0 victory over the visitors from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Sophomore goaltender Gustavs Grigals registered 27 saves for his first career shutout and seniors Nathan Coomes (left wing) and James LaDouce (defenseman) delivered the goals for the Nanooks.

Its first win of 2020 improved UAF to 11-12-0 overall and 9-8-0-0 WCHA for 27 points and sole possession of fourth place in the standings of the 10-team NCAA Division I conference.

“I thought the group played well tonight,”  Largen said in the postgame media conference.

“I thought we had a little lull at the end of the first (period) there and caught a bounce and a break with the goal being disallowed and overturned.”

The break for the Nanooks occurred with 11.5 seconds left in the first period, after Lakers senior right wing Max Humitz seemingly scored from the slot with a crossing pass from sophomore left wing Ashton Calder.

After an officials’ review, the goal was disallowed because of goaltender committed by Lake Superior.

“I think after that we took the most of that break and I thought we earned the victory tonight,” Largen said “For the most part, we played really well, but we’ve got to make sure we’re staying out of the (penalty) box tomorrow (tonight). “

The Nanooks survived three Lakers power plays in the second period — the last of which carried over to the third period.

The Nanooks also produced the series’ first goal at 3:19 of the second period with a right-place-at-the-right-time deposit from Coomes.

The native of Northville, Michigan, was camped at the left edge of the crease when freshman right wing Filip Fornaa Svensson sent a crossing pass his way.

“Fil was driving back post and I thought he was open for a little bit,” Coomes said. “I kind of forced it a little bit and it (pass) went off the D-man’s skate and went five-hole (through the goaltender’s pads).

“It was a good line effort for the goal.”

Freshman center Eriks Zohovs had the other assist on Coomes’ first goal and point of the season.

Lakers sophomore goaltender Mareks Mittens (25 saves) was pulled for an extra attacker as the game wound down. With 28.5 seconds left on the scoreboard clock, LaDouce collected senior left wing Tyler Cline’s assist and parked his second goal of the season into an empty net.

Grigals earned the shutout in his first start since a 5-3 conference win Dec. 7 over Bemidji State in Bemidji, Minnesota.

“It’s good to start the year with a shutout. Of course, there was a good team effort,” Grigals said.

The Lakers, in seventh place at 7-19-1 overall and 5-11-1 WCHA for 17 points, and the Nanooks wrap up the series with today’s game at 7 p.m.

Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports