KALAMAZOO, Mich. — For the second night in a row, the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ hockey team entered the third period of their game against Western Michigan with the score tied. But Saturday, turnabout was fair play for UAF. The Nanooks scored twice and held off WMU to earn a 5-3 win on homecoming weekend at the Broncos’ Lawson Arena.
Freshman left wing Kyle Greentree and junior forward Kelly Czuy each scored their second goal of the game for UAF in the third period. Greentree put the puck past WMU goaltender Dan Bellissimo with 4:05 remaining to break a tie that had existed since the Broncos’ Daryl Moore tied the scored at the 16:07 mark of the second period. WMU tried to rally, but Czuy won a race to a loose puck and slid home an empty net goal with 2.2 seconds remaining to cement UAF’s first victory of the 2004-2005 season.
The Nanooks had come from behind to take the lead with three consecutive goals in the second period. With the Broncos ahead, 1-0, freshman left wing Adam Powell converted passes from freshman defenseman Darcy Campbell and senior forward Jason Grinevitch at 7:26. It was the second consecutive time that Powell had scored UAF’s first goal.
Moments later, the score was tied. Czuy scored a power play goal at 9:28 to draw the Nanooks even. Greentree’s shorthanded goal at 15:06 gave Alaska Fairbanks the lead until Moore tied the game 1:01 later.
Western Michigan took an early lead. Brent Walton, who scored twice last night, scored at 15:18 of the first period to give the Broncos a 1-0 lead. He tallied again at 18:57 to make it 2-0 after the first period.
“I challenged our guys after the first period, I challenged them again after the second period, and I challenged them again late in the game,” said UAF Head Coach Tavis MacMillan. “They did things that you can’t teach, and they executed very well. I was really proud of our effort. (Michigan State Athletic Director and former hockey coach) Ron Mason once said that when your hardest working players accept responsibility, your team will have success, and I think that’s what happened tonight. We have a number of players who have won championships in junior leagues, and even though they’re young kids, they have had success.”
Senior goaltender Keith Bartusch earned his first victory of the season.
UAF improved to 1-1 overall and 1-1 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association with the victory, while WMU dropped to 1-1 overall and in league play. The Nanooks will return to action when they visit Alaska Anchorage next weekend in the first half of the annual battle for the Governor’s Cup.