BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Alaska-Fairbanks has been horrible on the road so far this season. From the looks of this game, there should be a turnaround in the making.
It was a game of firsts for the Nanooks; Aaron Voros scored his first collegiate hat trick, and goaltender Keith Bartusch notched his first collegiate shutout. The rest of the Alaska-Fairbanks squad could do no wrong either, as they smothered the Ferris State offense and put constant pressure on the defense in a 4-0 victory over the Bulldogs.
“We just looked tired out there,” Bulldogs coach Bob Daniels said. “At the end of the first period, there was just no sense of urgency. We were lethargic and it looked like we hit the wall early.”
Alaska-Fairbanks set the tone early in the first period as its defense kept the hungry Bulldog forwards at bay. The eight shots that Bartusch faced were from the outside and easily stopped. The Nanook forwards had a little easier time in front of the Ferris State net as they had numerous chances.
Voros finally scored on one of those chances at 14:36. Felipe Larranga passed it over to Voros who found himself all alone on goaltender Mike Brown. Voros buried the puck past the sprawling goaltender to make it 1-0.
“I thought Mike Brown had a lot of big stops,” Daniels said of his goaltender. “Our team just never responded when he made one of those saves to keep the game close in the first and second periods.”
Voros and the Nanooks continued their dominance in the second period. With the shots at one point 22-9 in favor of Alaska, Voros scored his second of the night at 8:18 off a 2-on-1. Campbell netted a goal of his own at 11:56 to lift Fairbanks to a three-goal lead when he capitalized on another 2-on-1 opportunity.
Voros then completed his hat trick at 13:45 after a Ferris State defender bobbled the puck at the blueline sending Voros in all alone. Voros cut across the slot and buried the puck past Brown to make it 4-0.
Bartusch and the Alaska defense did the rest of the work in the third period to get the shutout.
“It is a great feeling,” Bartusch said. “Our assistant coach read a poem before the game about how it takes one day to destroy a house. However, it takes months and years to build one. Each penalty we take hurts the building of that house. Those words of wisdom really inspired me and the rest of the team.”
Voros was equally happy about his hat trick.
“You are always pleased to get your first hat trick,” he said. “I can see how Ferris is successful. The size of their rink and the way they play, you can really get drawn into their system. This happened yesterday. Tonight, it was a different story.”
Alaska-Fairbanks takes on Western Michigan at the Lawson center next weekend while Ferris State travels to Nebraska to take on Nebraska-Omaha on Wednesday and Thursday.