Fairbanks, AK – It was by no means a perfect weekend. The Huskies are off to a 2-0-0 start and new head coach Brett Larson has a nice beginning to his head coaching career at SCSU. But, with less than a week of formal practice behind them I’m sure Coach Larson has lots to work on. With segments of sloppy play and some positional snags in their defensive play it looked like early season hockey. But once the team got their act together in game two of the series they showed how explosive they can be. The Huskies scored three times in period three to break open a one goal game and cruised to a 6-2 final vs the Alaska Nanooks of the WCHA. At times they made it look awfully easy as Robby Jackson scored twice to lead the Huskies on this night.
As was the case in game one, the Nanooks got on the scoreboard first on a defensive breakdown by the Huskies and a goal by Alaska’s Brennan Blasczack at 13:28 of the first period. Out-manned at the goal mouth, Kyle Marino fed an all-alone Blasczack who one-timed the puck past SCSU starter Jeff Smith for a 1-0 lead. However, it was short-lived as the Huskies answered 2:44 later on a goal by Jacob Benson (Newell | Ahcan), his first of the year. Ahcan cruised in on goal and his shot deflected off the right post to Benson who kicked the puck to his blade and deposited it to tie the game at 1-1. The Huskies badly outshot the Nanooks in period one by a margin of 18-7 ad nearly made it a 2-1 game were it not for a huge save by Gustav Grigals at the horn.
Once again in period two, the Huskies got sloppy defensively and left the Nanook’s Ryker Leer all alone in front of the net and he tipped a shot by Kyle Marino past Smith to give Alaska a 2-1 lead at 4:57 of the 2nd. But, again, it didn’t last long as the Huskies got the equalizer a mere 16 seconds later with Kevin Fitzgerald’s first goal of the season. Nick Poehling fed Fitzgerald between the dots and he wristed it past Grigals to knot the game at 2-2. Next it was Patrick Newell (B Lizotte) who added his third goal of the weekend and the game-winner. Newell picked a pass from Blake Lizotte and after his initial shot bounced back to him made sure of his second attempt to give the Huskies a 3-2 lead. Again, the Huskies outshot UAF 11-6 in the period and 29-13 in the game up until that point.
Period three was all St. Cloud State as the Huskies attack finally took some fight out of the Nanooks as they added three consecutive goals in the period. First, Robby Jackson (R Poehling | Brodzinski) got his first of two goals at 6:03. He captured a pass from Brodzinski and beat Grigals with a quick release wrist shot from the left circle that beat him five-hole for a 4-2 SCSU lead. After the Nanooks Sam Ruffin was stunted on a breakaway with about 10 minutes remaining, Jackson (R Poehling) added another at 13:53. Ryan Poehling fed Jackson from below the goal line and Jackson tipped it in on a backhand for a 5-2 Husky lead. Anchorage Alaska native Nolan Walker then treated family and friends in attendance with his first collegiate goal at 15:10 to finish the scoring for SCSU. Walker drove the net and slipped the puck under Grigals unassisted for the Huskies sixth and final goal of the game.
The Huskies outshot the Nanooks 36-22 for the contest with Jeff Smith (1-0-0) turning aside 20 of 22 Alaska shots on goal. UAF starter Gustavs Grigals (0-1-0) faced 36 SCSU shots stopping 30 losing his first game of the season. The Huskies were whistled 7 times for 14 minutes while UAF was penalized 4 times for 8 minutes. Both teams were blanked on their power play opportunities with the Huskies 0/3 and Alaska 0/6. Face-offs were in the Nanooks favor 30-26 and they blocked 21 shots as opposed to 6 by SCSU.
Robby Jackson (2-0-0), Ryan Poehling (0-2-2) and Patrick Newall (1-1-2) all had a multi-point game for the Huskies. Newell had 3 goals and 5 points in the weekend series.
The Huskies return home to face the Northern Michigan Wildcats next weekend while the Nanooks hit the road to take on the Denver Pioneers.