FAIRBANKS-The Minnesota State Mavericks, the number two team in the WCHA made the Nanook defense bend but it did not break. The Nanooks (8-8-3, 5-7-1 WCHA) used their defense and another great penalty killing performance in their 4-2 victory over the Mavs.
The Nanooks worked their way into this one. 10:47 into the game Nolan Huysmans shot a laser from the center and Tyler Morely redirected the shot past Cole Huggins for the game's first score.
Davis Jones got the start for UAF. Jones and the Nanook played off each other especially in the first with 11 blocked shots. The Mavs were very aggressive on offense outshooting UAF 39-18. But the Mavs were shutout in the first period.
In the second was when the special teams shined for the Nanooks. That period was marred by 37 total penalty minutes. There was a made scramble that turned into a scrum after Minnesota state crashed the net to try to get one past Jones. Bodies were all on the ice and the referees called Josh Atkison for face masking and he was ejected. The Nanooks had to kill a five minute major as well and that's what they did. The Nanooks went 6-6 on the penalty kill.
Still in the second the Mavs (11-8-0, 9-4-0 WCHA) were on 4-on-4 situation and Matt Leitner provided the equalizer following up a stopped shot by Jones for the rebound goal to tie it 1-1 with six minutes left. It would be 1-1 going into the third.
Just under four minutes into the final period after another successful penalty kill Alaska's Colton Beck found the puck in the neutral zone and passed it to a streaking Cody Kunyk on the left side. Kunyk showed the paws and skating skills executing beautiful deke that split two defenders. Kunyk then passed it to his right and Morely found an open net and put it in for his second goal of the game. It gave the Nanooks a 2-1 advantage. It was Morely's ninth of the season.
It look as if the Nanooks would bookend the third with goals. With just 4:05 remaining the law firm of Basara, Kunyk and Beck linked up for a goal. The three had a 3-on-2 rush where Basara went cross ice to Kunyk who then hit Beck in the center and Beck scored. It's 3-1 Nooks but the Mavs made it interesting.
Minnesota State added a man to the ice pulling their goalie with under three minutes to play. It took six guys to cycle it around to find an opening in the UAF defense and to get one in on Jones but they did at the 3:21 mark. John McInnis scored for the Mavs to make it 3-2.
Jones did his thing tonight continuing to make saves and the Nanook defense and offense fed off of that again denying and blocking Mavs' shots in the final three minutes.
Morely won a faceoff, Colton Parayko zipped a quick pass to Kunyk who got behind six Minnesota State skaters, who went empty net again but Kunyk was all alone for the empty net score. That's how the game ended for the Nooks with a 4-2 win. The win stopped a seven game winning streak for Minnesota State which was a WCHA best.
Morely and Kunyk had three point nights for UAF while Jones made 37 saves.