DENVER - Despite holding a 3-1 lead late into the third period, the No. 9 Denver Pioneers scored two goals in the last 1:52 of regulation against the Alaska Nanooks hockey team, eventually resulting in a 3-3 nonconference draw at the Magness Arena on Saturday night.
The tie is both Alaska and Denver's first of the 2018-19 campaign, moving the Nanooks' overall record to 0-5-1, while the Pioneers remain undefeated with a 3-0-1 mark on the season.
"Overall, there were a lot of positives to draw from tonight's game, including our special teams," head coach Erik Largen said on Saturday. "However, we need to take a step forward and find a way to close out a hockey game. We know it's going to be a process and we need to look forward to that challenge, especially entering league play next weekend. The good news is that we have a solid foundation to build upon both individually and collectively."
Like they have in the past four contests, the Nanooks opened up the scoring on Saturday night, as junior forward Kylar Hope netted his first of the season at the 9:57 mark. After Alaska's defenders caused a Denver turnover entering the Nanook defensive zone, Alaska caught Denver in transition, sending Hope along the boards the other way. Hope came down on his off-hand using a Pioneer defender as a screen before beating DU's netminder Devin Cooley high glove-side by the opposite post.
Hope's goal, his ninth of his career, was assisted by junior defenseman James LaDouce, while senior defenseman Jack Weiss was awarded the secondary.
After entering the weekend going 0-for-21 on the man-advantage, Alaska scored two power play goals on Saturday and three throughout the weekend. At the 14:31 mark of the first period, senior forward Ryker Leer collected his first goal and power play tally of the season. Freshman defenseman Chris Jandric skated the puck into the DU zone hanging on to possession for as long as possible before drawing two Pioneer defensemen into the corner with him. C. Jandric was able to kick the puck loose to Hope behind the net, who dished a pass to Leer, alone backdoor. Leer faked a stuff play on Cooley before walking along the crease to make it 2-1 in favor of the Nanooks.
The goal marks Hope's first multi-point night of the season, while C. Jandric earns his first of two assists on the night.
The Nanooks took a 3-0 lead over the opponent for the first time this season as junior forward Colton Leiter was able to net his second goal of the season and second power play goal in back-to-back games. At the 5:58 mark of the second period, C. Jandric was running the top of the power play, drawing a Denver penalty-killer out to him before kicking the puck to Leiter along the flank. With no one challenging him, Leiter walked in from the top of the circle and rifled a wristshot high-blocker past Cooley.
Leiter's goal was assisted by C. Jandric, who tallied his first multi-point night of his career, while senior forward Chad Staley was given the secondary assist. C. Jandric now leads the Nanooks in scoring with four points (all assists) through six games.
Not even a minute later, Denver got on the board with an even-strength goal from Jarid Lukosevicius to make it a 3-1 game. DU's Cole Guttman was driving to the net and managed to get a shot on goal before Alaska goaltender Anton Martinsson was able to make the initial save. Lukosevicius was trailing behind and able to put away the rebound for his first of the season.
Down 3-1 with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, Denver pulled Cooley for the extra attacker at the 2:04 mark. DU's Emilio Pettersen made a cross-ice pass from the top of the blueline to backdoor, before Guttman was able to put away a one-timer and pull the Pioneers to within one goal at the 1:52 mark.
With only 35 seconds remaining, Denver pulled their netminder once again before Les Lancaster was able to tie the game with another one-timer from the top of the circle.
After a scoreless five-minute overtime, the Nanooks and the Pioneers walk away from Magness Arena with a 3-3 nonconference draw. Due to the new NCAA rule change, any nonconference contest between two NCAA Division I ice hockey programs conclude at the end of 65 minutes since no additional points are awarded, as they would be in conference games.
Alaska's Martinsson registered 25 saves off of 28 shots on goal, including 11 in the third period and three in overtime, while Cooley posted 20 saves against the Nanooks.
In the special teams' race, the Nanooks went 2-for-5 on the power play and held their opponent scoreless on the man-advantage, going 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
The Alaska Nanooks hockey team continues their two-week road trip this week by opening up Western Collegiate Hockey Association play against the No. 7 Minnesota State Mankato Mavericks in Mankato, Minnesota. The two-game series kicks off on Friday, Oct. 26 and concludes on Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Verizon Wireless Center. Puck-drop both nights is scheduled for 4:07pm AKDT.