OMAHA, Neb. — Two things were accomplished in Saturday’s 2-2 tie between the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks and the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks. The first was the Mavericks remained undefeated at home in CCHA.
The second was that the Nanooks continued their steak of gaining a point in every CCHA series they have played this season.
The game Saturday began much differently than the Friday matchup. While it took Fairbanks 58:56 and 36 shots to score Friday, the Nanooks needed just 52 seconds and one shot to break into the scoring column Saturday.
Off a defensive-zone turnover, Nanook forward Ryan Campbell found a wide-open Ryan Long, who tucked the puck home to give UAF the short-term advantage.
“I think it was big to get that first goal, especially since we had so much trouble with (Dan) Ellis last night,” Alaska-Fairbanks head coach Guy Gadowsky said.
The Mavericks busted back 30 seconds later to tie the game. David Brisson took a pass from Alan Carr, skated to the center of the slot and wristed the disc over the leg pad of Fairbanks goalie Preston McKay.
Less than 1:30 into the game there was more scoring than the entire first two periods of the Friday contest.
“That was really important for the guys to bounce back right away to get a quick goal and get right back into it,” said UNO’s Jason White, who would later be a factor in the game.
The second period as well saw early goals. Alaska-Fairbanks took the lead again 5:07 into the middle frame on its only power-play goal of the weekend. Nanook leading scorer Jim Lawrence deposited his own rebound to give UAF a 2-1 lead, which again would be short-lived.
Just one minute and five seconds later White would knot the game for good. White took a pass off the boards from Mike Gabinet, skated to the near slot and flung a wrist shot over the far side shoulder of McKay Gabinet has two assists on the evening to lead all scorers.
After that goal, Preston McKay took over. The Mavericks threw not just the kitchen sink, but the dishwasher, refrigerator, and stove at McKay, but he held strong. The UAF netminder stoned two Maverick breakaways in the second period and one more in overtime to preserve the tie, and the point for UAF. McKay faced a total of 42 shots, turning away 40.
“You know what — McKay was great tonight,” Gadowsky said. “He made some big time saves, and a lot of them. He was a huge part of this point.”
On the flip side of the goaltending coin, Dan Ellis again showed himself well in the net. Ellis made 25 of 27 saves and totaled 60 of 63 saves on the weekend. Ellis also had to stop a Fairbanks breakaway late in the third period with the Nanooks on the power play.
“Ellis played fantastic this weekend,” White said. “When he’s twitching, he is definitely one of the best goaltenders in the league.”
The Nanooks have already matched their conference point total from last year.
“Fairbanks is very quick. They play a hard, aggressive style of play. I think they are a team that is going to be competitive all season long,” Maverick head coach Mike Kemp said.
Alaska-Fairbanks will now put its CCHA point-scoring streak on the line next weekend when it hosts Lake Superior. Nebraska-Omaha goes back on the road to take on Bowling Green in a CCHA grudge series.