ANCHORAGE — It was the ultimate game of firsts. The first game for both teams, the first game of the Kendall Hockey Classic, the first goal of the year for both teams, and the first tie of the year, leaving both teams hunting for their first win.
The University of Alaska and Northeastern University kicked off the Kendall Hockey Classic tying 2-2 in the first match-up between the two teams since 1988.
The first period was exactly what one would expect out of the years inaugural period. The game started slowly with the two teams feeling out each other and playing primarily dump and chase hockey with Northeastern getting the better of the chances, despite not being able to put anything past UA netminder Chad Johnson.
The second period saw the Huskies take to the lead on the first goal of the season for Dennis McCauley. Junior Kyle Kraemer tried skating the puck up the side of the ice but was pressured away from and had to bounce it behind the net. Luckily for him, Ryan Ginand was wide open and buried the puck to give the Huskies the one goal edge.
Nanook brothers Brandon Knelsen and Dion Knelsen combined to tie the game at one in the third period. It was a play not without controversy as both Knelsen and Huskies defensemen were tied up driving towards the net. The puck flew their direction and found its way into the goal. The initial signal was for no goal but after a lengthy video replay, it was shown to be a valid tally.
“On the first one, Dion just went wide and shot it, and I was just going to the net with the defensemen, I think it went off my pants or something,” Brandon Knelsen said after the game.
With the game tied the Huskies rallied to give themselves the lead thanks to freshmen Steve Quailer’s first goal of his collegiate career. The play that resulted with the goal started with Steve Silva driving down the ice and after Chad Johnson made the initial save, Steve Quailer put the rebound away to give the Huskies the lead.
The attacking brothers struck again to even the game at two. Another goal needing video replay as once again Brandon had it deflect off part of his body, not his stick but the goal was judged to be legal. Dustin Molle picked up an assist on the play.
For the Knelsen brothers it was four points, including both goals.
“It’s fun. I think we got good chemistry. We played together a lot in the past. We read off each other well, said Brandon about playing with his little brother.
The two teams battled for the rest of the third period but neither team could find the back of the net. During the five minute overtime, the play also went back and forth with very few quality opportunities going either way.
“We played fine the first two periods. It was one of those games where we had so many chances and just couldn’t score. Give Fairbanks credit they came out in the third and they were energized,” said Northeastern coach Greg Cronin.
Because this was a tournament game, a shootout was conducted after a scoreless five minutes of overtime. In the second round, Dion Knelsen netted the game-winner. For NCAA purposes, this game will be judged a tie.
Overall, the NU power play went 0-3 and UA was 0-6. NU goalie Brad Thiessen made 29 saves, 14 of them coming in the third. His counterpart, Johnson, made 18 stops.