FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Backed by 33 saves from junior goaltender Anton Martinsson, the Alaska Nanooks hockey team upset the No. 9 Bowling Green Falcons 4-1 in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association contest at the Carlson Center on Friday night. The win moves Alaska's overall record to 6-15-2 and 6-10-2-1 in conference play, while the Falcons drop to 15-6-3 on the season and 10-5-2-2 in league matchups.
The Nooks walk away from Friday's contest with three WCHA points, keeping them in seventh place in the conference rankings with 20 points. Bowling Green remains in third place in the league standings with 34 points.
"I thought tonight was a real hard-fought victory for our guys," Alaska hockey assistant coach Joe Howe said on Friday. "They are obviously a very good hockey club and a very talented hockey club. I think we might have caught them sleeping at first but they pushed back in the second, and I have to credit our guys, it was a bit of a bend but not a break. Credit to Anton who was great between the pipes and I thought our special teams, both sides, were good tonight. It's been something that's been missing in a couple close losses recently but I think even in the end, we were really composed on the bench. They had quite the push at the end, credit to them, but we know we are going to get an even harder game form them tomorrow night."
After posting a 0-11-2 record this season prior to last Saturday at Bemidji, Martinsson earns his second-straight victory in his fourth consecutive start in net. The Klippan, Sweden native turned away 10 shots in the first, 11 shots in the second and a single-period game-high of 14 in the third to lift the Nooks past the No. 9th-ranked team in the nation on Friday.
Martinsson wasn't the only Nanook to shine on Friday, as junior defenseman Tristan Thompson tallied three assists for a three-point night. Thompson's three points is a single-game career-high and ties him with sophomore forward Steven Jandric for a team-best 12 points.
Junior forward Troy Van Tetering opened up the scoring on Friday night, netting a power play goal at the 6:36 mark of the first period. Van Tetering has now registered three goals and one assist for four points in five games since Jan. 1, which also puts him on a two-game point streak. The Carstairs, Alberta native's four goal of the season was assisted by freshman forward Sam Ruffin and freshman defenseman Antti Virtanen.
Junior forward Tyler Cline's first goal of the season ended up being the game-winning goal on Friday, as the Blaine, Minnesota native scored at the 19:00 mark of the second period to give the Nooks a 2-1 lead. Cline's goal was assisted by junior forward Colton Leiter and Thompson.
While playing 4-on-4 hockey, Bowling Green pulled netminder Eric Dop to gain an extra attacker late in the third period. The play worked in favor of the Falcons, as BGSU's Connor Ford pulled Bowling Green to within one goal at the 15:31 mark of the third period. Ford's 10th goal of the season was assisted by Max Johnson and Alex Rauhauser.
The Nooks sealed the victory with back-to-back empty-net goals from S. Jandric and sophomore forward Justin Young. S. Jandric's goal was assisted by netminder Martinsson and Thompson, while Young's tally was assisted by Thompson. Young is now riding a two-game scoring streak after being held pointless through 20 games this season.
In the special teams race, Alaska was 2-for-4 on the power play and 6-for-6 on the penalty kill. Unfortunately, the Falcons outshot the Nanooks 36-23 on Friday. BGSU's Dop tallied 19 saves against the Nanooks, including 11 in the first period alone.
The Alaska Nanooks hockey team will be back in action against the No. 9 Bowling Green Falcons tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 19) at the Carlson Center with puck-drop set for 7:07pm AKST. The Nooks will also be hosting their Military Appreciation Night tomorrow, with all military and their dependents receiving free admission with the presentation of valid military identification.