BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Sometimes, when one team has another’s number there’s nothing the dominating team can do to lose.
Outshot 41-21 on the road and down a goal before the game was a minute old, the Alaska Nanooks scored two quirky third period goals to beat Ferris State, 3-2, to extend their unbeaten streak against the Bulldogs to 10 games.
“We got some puck luck tonight,” said Alaska head coach Dallas Ferguson. “We got pucks to the net. After that second period, they had all those power play opportunities. I thought we did a pretty good job of staying tough and mentally staying in it. Good things happen when you throw pucks to the net.”
Puck luck is right. Down 2-1 midway through the third period, the Nanooks tied the game when Ryan Hohl scored his second of the night when he passed from the top of the right circle down to Steve Nanoosten — but the puck hit the skate of Bulldog Scott Wietecha and ricocheted past goaltender Taylor Nelson to even the score.
Then at 13:26, Adam Naglich won the puck in the left corner of the FSU end and threw the puck out toward the Bulldog net — but the puck hit Nelson’s backside and ricocheted in for the game-winner.
“I thought that we were pretty fortunate, to be honest with you,” said Ferguson. “Ferris had a lot of good scoring opportunities. I thought in the second period on the penalty kill, on that five-on-three, Johnson was obviously the difference.”
Chad Johnson had 39 saves in the game including 17 in the second period.
“Johnson played very well in net, and [they got] a couple of bounces, too,” said Bulldog head coach Bob Daniels. “Overall, the guys executed the plan and just lost. We played fine. I have no issues with our team tonight.
“There were a few guys who were maybe a bit off a little bit, but for the most part I don’t think we turned over a lot of pucks, I don’t think we took a lot of needless penalties.”
The Bulldogs took that very early lead when Aaron Lewicki netted his seventh of the season 57 seconds into the contest. Crashing the net, Lewicki took a pass from Brendan Connolly and backhanded the puck into the net off of Johnson’s stick.
Hohl evened the score for the Nanooks at 5:31 from Derek Klassen and Justin Brossman. Crashing the net, Hohl took the puck from Klassen and put it passed the screened Taylor Nelson to tie the game 1-1 after two.
At 6:56 in the third, Scott Wietecha converted on a Bulldog power play that resulted from a too many
men call to give FSU a 2-1 lead, but the infrequent call was the only miscalculation on the part of the Nanooks in the game, and the only break the Bulldogs would get.
Ferguson said that in the first period, he was a little concerned about how slowly the Nanooks were warming up to play.
“Just having that week off, there was a little bit of a factor, he said. As the game went on, I thought the team played a little bit more like we normally play and like we need to be playing.
“Ferris is a good team. They skate really well, their puck intensity is real strong, and that’s not a good combination if you’ve got a week off and you go out and you’re going to play your way around to get back in the swing of things.”
Nelson had 18 saves in the loss. UAF was 1-for-5 on the power play, FSU 1-for-7.
“Even though we had a high shot total, I don’t think we got a lot of super opportunities,” said Daniels. “I’m disappointed that we lost, but I’m not disappointed at all in the effort.”
Alaska (6-4-1, 4-3-0-0 CCHA) and Ferris State (5-5-3, 4-3-2-0 CCHA) meet again Saturday night in Ewigleben Arena, where it will be Sarah Palin night. Student fans are encouraged to bring their best Palin-related signs and dress as the Alaska governor and former vice-presidential hopeful. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m.