MARQUETTE, Mich. — Misery in Marquette continued Saturday for the Alaska Nanooks.
The Nanooks were eliminated from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs and saw their season end after a 4-3 loss to the Northern Michigan University Wildcats in game 2 of the best-of-three series in Marquette, Michigan.
The seventh-seeded Nanooks led early in Saturday’s contest, just like they did in Friday’s 5-4 double-overtime loss in game 1 in the Berry Events Center.
On Friday, the Nanooks were ahead 4-2 after the second period. On Saturday, Kylar Hope produced the only goal of the first period and Nanooks teammate Kyle Marino propelled Alaska to a 2-0 lead in the second period.
The second-seeded Wildcats responded with a four-goal surge during the second and third periods. Tyler Cline cut the hosts’ lead by one with an extra-attacker goal late in the third period. Northern Michigan, however, halted Alaska’s momentum and advanced to a best-of-three semifinal series against third-seeded Bowling Green (Ohio) Falcons, starting Friday in the Berry Events Center.
“It’s good to see how much intensity and passing the guys came out with, jumping out to a two-nothing lead, and I thought we responded well after they tied it up at two,” first-year Nanooks head coach Erik Largen said Saturday in a University of Alaska Fairbanks news release.
“They were able to make a couple more plays, they got a power-play goal, and again, give credit to our guys for battling back. Tyler had a nice shot on the 6-on-5 but it was just too little, too late.”
Junior goaltender Anton Martinsson registered 26 saves for the Nanooks, who ended the season at 12-21-3. Alaska also is 3-24-7 all-time in Marquette and trails 13-42-12 in the history of its series with Northern Michigan.
Hope, a junior right wing, batted in his own rebound for the game’s first goal at 8:06 of the opening period of game 2. Junior center Colton Leiter and freshman defenseman Chris Jandric assisted Hope.
Freshman center Colin Doyle set up junior right wing Marino’s goal in the second. Doyle capped a rush with a long shot from the top of a circle and Marino pounced on the rebound at 8:28 of the middle period.
The Wildcats (21-14-2) got goals and assists each from Denver Pierce and Troy Loggins and two helpers from Adam Rockwood during its four-goal burst.
Pierce scored at 12:54 of the second and the senior right wing was assisted by senior defenseman Ryan Black and Rockwood, a senior center.
Freshman right wing Vincent de Mey tied it at 2 at 13:36 of the second with help from freshmen Garrett Klee (left wing) and Grant Loven (center).
Loggins, a senior left wing, made it 3-2 at 9:59 of the third period, courtesy of Pierce’s assist.
Junior right wing Darien Craighead scored during a power play at 11:58 of the third. Rockwood and Loggins provided the assists on the game-winner.
The Wildcats went 1 for 2 on the power play and the Nanooks were 0 for 2 with the man-advantage. Each team also played fairly disciplined hockey Saturday, receiving only two penalties apiece.
The Nanooks pulled Martinsson for an extra attacker and Cline capitalized by firing a wrist shot from the top of the Wildcats’ zone and through traffic in front of the crease at 17:52 of the third. Junior defenseman Tristan Thompson and sophomore Steven Jandric assisted on the Nanooks’ last goal of 2018-19.
“I thought we got better as the season went on, especially in the second half,” Largen said in the release.
“When it was 0-7-1, it could’ve been easy for the guys to just pack it in; but instead they kept working and kept battling. You know, we were only a couple of bounces away from winning a playoff series.”
It was also the last collegiate game for Nanooks seniors Nikolas Koberstein (defenseman), Ryker Leer (left wing), Jack Weiss (defenseman) and Chad Staley (right wing).
The Nanooks hockey team’s End of the Year Banquet takes place March 29 in the Gold Room of the Westmark Hotel and Conference Center.
A social hour is scheduled at 6 p.m, and the program is set to begin at 6:30 pm.
Tickets are $40 each for adults and $20 each for children.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.