FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Alaska Nanooks never had a lead in Friday's matchup against Michigan Tech until 3:33 remaining in the game. That is when senior defenseman Tristan Thompson fired the game-winner top shelf, to give the Nanooks a 4-3 victory over the Huskies at the Carlson Center.
UAF trailed or tied for over 56 of the 60 minutes in the contest, but the final numbers on the scoreboard are what keep you climbing in the standings, and the Nanooks kept pace with their WCHA foes with the come-from-behind victory Friday night. After picking up three points, the Nanooks (9-8-0, 7-4-0 WCHA) are still hanging atop the conference standings with 21 points.
After a scoreless first period, Michigan Tech found a goal within 37 seconds of the second period puck drop. Before the Blue and Gold could even digest the first goal, the Huskies scored another on a two on zero fast break less than 30 seconds later, and the Nanooks were down 2-0 before many of the fans could return from their nacho run during intermission. Rather than lie down, this seemed to light a fire under the Nanooks.
"There was no quit in the team tonight," Head Coach Erik Largen said at the press conference after the game. "Earlier in the year, maybe we get down 2-0 and we don't have a response. It was good to see a response from the group and the team and [I am] proud of the effort.
Freshman Didrik Henbrandt ignited the comeback effort, when he scored a power play goal in the second period, the first of his collegiate career, with assists from Thompson and James LaDouce.
"It was a simple shot from the blue line by Tristan Thompson, I just took the rebound, nothing special," Henbrandt said of his first goal. "It was a relief to finally score; I had some chances before to put it in...I'm glad I had my first one today."
The Nanooks benefited from another power play opportunity, when Max Newton tied the game early in the third with his team-high sixth goal of the season (assists from Steven Jandric and Chris Jandric). After a series of penalties, the Huskies had a four on three advantage and they used it to take the lead back 3-2, just over six minutes into the third period.
Within two minutes, former Ice Dog Caleb Hite responded with his second goal of the season (assists from Kyle Marino and Eriks Zohovs), driving one past the goaltender, to bring the score to 3-3.
That is when Thompson came through with the late-game heroics, pushing the Nanooks past the Huskies with the game-winner.
After sweeping Michigan Tech on October 11 and 12, the Nanooks have now defeated MTU in three straight games. It is tough to beat a team four times in one season, especially when they're seeking revenge.
"Our competitiveness has to be there," Largen said about what the team will need to do to close out the series. "We have to make sure to continue to make the game hard on them, and if we make the game hard on them, we give ourselves an opportunity to come out with another three points. They're not going to go away without a great fight and a great effort and I'm sure there is going to be a big push from them and we have to be ready for it."
Since their sweep over the Huskies in October, the Nanooks have split the last six series. They will look to break that streak on Saturday when the puck drops at 7:07 p.m. at the Carlson Center.
Copyright 2019 KTVF. All rights reserved.