HOUGHTON, Mich. – Looking for a better effort than they had given Friday night, the Michigan Tech Huskies appeared poised to do just that on Saturday with a fast start to the game. Unfortunately for the home fans, Alaska Nanooks captain Colton Beck had other plans, striking twice in the first period to help carry the Nanooks to a 7-2 victory at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
“I thought our guys stuck with what we wanted to do this weekend,” said Nanooks coach Dallas Ferguson. “Great weekend. Happy with the effort the guys put forth and it couldn’t happen at a better time for us.”
The Nanooks (14-12-4 overall, 11-11-2 WCHA) had the game’s first scoring chance when Nolan Huysmans skated the puck behind Pheonix Copley’s goal and attempted a wraparound to his backhand side, but Copley made the stop.
The visitors had the game’s first power play and had a great chance to take the lead when captain Colton Beck tipped a shot from assistant captain Michael Quinn at the left point toward Copley, but he again was there to make the stop.
Right after that advantage, the Nanooks did take the lead when Beck batted a second rebound past Copley at 9:00. Assistant captain Cody Kunyk fired the first shot on Copley.
The Huskies (12-16-6 overall, 10-10-4 WCHA) finally started to get some sustained pressure on Sean Cahill late in the period. Alex Petan had two shots from just outside the crease to Cahill’s left. Jacob Johnstone had another two minutes later from about the same spot, but the Nanooks’ goalie was ready to make the stop each time.
“I thought it was a tough weekend, obviously,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. “They got the lead on us. We just never could get caught up.”
Already trailing 1-0, the Huskies found themselves facing major adversity when Malcolm Gould was whistled for checking from behind at 18:33. The Nanooks took advantage with just 5.4 seconds left in the opening frame as Kunyk found Beck sliding into the slot and Beck beat Copley with the one-timer. Assistant captain Colton Parayko also assisted on the goal.
In the second period, the Nanooks took definitive control of the game at 6:43 when Huysmans got behind the Huskies’ defense and took a back door pass from Jared Larson and beat Copley with a one-timer.
The Nanooks struck again at 9:02. Copley made a great save off a shot from Tyler Morley, but the rebound snuck out into the crease from underneath Copley and Brandon Morley crashed the net, beat all the Huskies to the puck, and pushed it home.
Larson capped the three-goal outburst for the Nanooks in the middle frame when Huysmans lost an edge but still managed to get the puck toward the goal. The pass was tipped by Larson and eluded Copley at 14:05.
Huskies assistant captain Tanner Kero broke the shutout for Cahill late in the period when his blast from the left point sailed along the ice and through the wickets at 19:18. Riley Sweeney and Blake Hietala assisted on the goal.
“You never want to lose like that, especially at home,” said Kero. “We’ve got to find our way our way to kind of learn from it. We have to go back to our old game plan and start competing.”
On a power play early in the third, the Nanooks again opened up a five-goal lead when Tyler Morley took a pass on the back door from Beck and beat Jamie Phillips, who had started the period in place of Copley, at 1:48
The game remained 6-1 until the 12:28 mark when Chris Leibinger fired a shot that Hietala tipped past Cahill. Walker Hyland also assisted on the goal.
The Nanooks struck one last time when Quinn skated the puck the length of the rink on a power play before wristing a shot over Phillips’ left shoulder at 17:28.