KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Alaska netminder Wylie Rogers stopped 32 of 33 shots as the Nanooks ended Western Michigan’s season with a 3-1 win in the decisive third game of the schools’ CCHA first-round playoff series Sunday night.
The Nanooks drew first blood in when Curtis Fraser netted his 19th goal of the season and first of the series at the 2:45 mark of the opening period. Braden Walls and Kyle Greentree assisted on the goal.
Ryan Mahrle almost had an answer moments after UA’s game-opening goal when he hit the crossbar on Western Michigan’s first shot of the game.
Both teams each had one power play during the opening 20 minutes, coming just 13 seconds apart. Neither team managed a shot on goal with the man advantage. Despite being outshot 7-6, the Nanooks took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
UA took four minutes longer to score its goal in the second period than it did in the first. Aaron Lee scored his first power-play goal of the year on a rebound of a Tyler Eckford shot to put the Nanooks up, 2-0, with 6:49 gone in the second frame.
Alaska took over the shot lead in the second period as well, outgunning WMU, 15-12, in the stanza and entered the third period with a 21-19 advantage.
Western Michigan was also getting outshot on the power play. Through two periods, the Broncos managed one shot on goal with the man advantage, while the Nanooks had taken four shots and scored one.
Western Michigan’s Mark Letestu had an apparent goal late in the third period but after review the referee ruled that the puck went under the net rather than into it, and Alaska retained its two-goal cushion.
Rogers earned his sixth win of the year and second of the postseason. The Nanooks added an empty-net goal in the third to go up, 3-0. Paul Szczechura scored on the extra-man attack in the final minute but it was not enough.
Alaska won the first-round series, 2-1, and will now face top-seeded Notre Dame in the quarterfinals of the CCHA tournament next weekend.