|2nd||14:37||AKF||1-0||EV GW||Kylar Hope||Danny Kiraly, Ryker Leer|
|2nd||16:29||AKF||2-0||EV||Chad Staley||Zach Frye, Jesse Jenks|
|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||SOG|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|Simon Fraser Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||Saves|
|Jordan Liem (L)||59:16||2||10||11||7||28|
|Jesse Jenks (W)||20:00||0||0||7||0||7|
FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Alaska Nanooks hockey team unofficially kicked off the 2016-17 season on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Simon Fraser Clan 2-0 in an exhibition game at the Carlson Center, with goals coming from freshman forward Kylar Hope and sophomore forward Chad Staley.
"They had a really good push to start off the game, we were definitely on our heels for a little bit in the first period," head coach Dallas Ferguson said after Sunday's game. "I thought as the game progressed, we finally got the puck moving once we went on our first power play, which helped relax us. It's kind of like the blue and gold game in a way, where there's a lot of nervousness and jitters, especially from the younger players but I thought they progressed throughout the game. We're in the start of this process that's going to take a while but I liked what I saw from a lot of players; as long as we continue to take positive steps, I think we're headed in the right direction."
Alaska outshot Simon Fraser 30-20 on the night, but was outshot in the first period 10-11. The Nanooks came back for the second period feeling much more confident in their play, outshooting the Clan 13-7 and 7-2 in the second and third periods, respectively. The Clan went 0-7 on power-play opportunities, while Alaska went 0-3. The Nooks also dominated the face-off circle, winning 32 draws to 26, with freshman Colton Leiter registering a team-high 11 wins.
All three goaltenders who dressed for the Nanooks made an appearance in net, as senior Davis Jones, sophomore Jesse Jenks and freshman Niko DellaMaggiore each recorded 20 minutes of playing time. Jones stood tall for the Nooks in the first period, making 11 saves, while Jenks recorded seven and DellaMaggiore posted two. On the other end, SFU's Jordan Liem registered 28 saves, 11 in the second period alone.
After a scoreless first period, Hope put the Nanooks up 1-0 in his collegiate debut at the 14:37 mark. The play began when freshman defenseman Danny Kiraly made an up-ice pass in transition that would've been called for icing if Hope didn't beat the SFU player to the offensive-zone face-off dot, thanks to the hybrid icing rule. Hope collected the puck in the corner, catching the goalie off his post and scored off of a wrap-around.
"On Kylar's goal, I like those kinds of plays, where he came in with a lot of speed and the goaltenders have to respect it. It was kind of a nifty little play with the wrap-around and we had a bit of a laugh on the bench because we saw him score four goals exactly like that in the playoffs in juniors," Ferguson said of his freshman forward. "I thought that line - (Ryler) Leer, (Troy) Van Tetering and Hope - played really well tonight for the most part, especially since it's an all underclassmen line. They had good offensive zone time and their entries were clean."
Less than two minutes later (16:29), Staley scored to make it 2-0 with helpers from goaltender Jenks and sophomore defenseman Zach Frye. Jenks stopped the puck behind Alaska's net and set it up for Frye, who had time to skate out and make a hard up-ice pass to Staley, who was sitting in the neutral zone. Staley entered the zone with fellow sophomore forward Ryker Leer on a two-on-one, with Leer crashing the net hard and the SFU defenseman laying down to deny a pass, Staley toe-dragged around the defenseman's stick before rifling the puck top-shelf.
"Chad Staley's goal came from a good transition, which is something we've been working on a lot in practice," Ferguson concluded. "Zach made a really heads-up play and Chad made a really great play off the rush with a lot of patience and finished the play off. Overall, two nice goals, I thought maybe we could've finished a couple more but again, it was mostly about creating opportunities, now we can start focusing on generating a few more pucks to the net. It was the first game but I think there are a lot of positive things we can build up."
The Alaska Nanooks officially kick off the 2016-17 season next Saturday, Oct. 8 as they take on in-state rival Alaska Anchorage at the Sullivan Arena at 7:07p.m. AKT. The game is not part of the Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup, nor will it count in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings.