FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Despite taking an early lead in the first period and coming back in the third, the Alaska Nanooks hockey team dropped their home-opener 3-2 to the No. 3/5-ranked St. Cloud State University Huskies in a nonconference contest at the Carlson Center on Friday night.
The loss drops Alaska's overall record to 0-3-0, while the Huskies improve to 1-0-0 in their first contest of the 2018-19 season.
"That was a tough loss and I'm a bit lost for words, but the big things is that I really liked our compete level tonight," head coach Erik Largen said on Friday. "I thought we gave ourselves a really good chance to win the game. We lost the special teams battle one-to-nothing and that ended up being the difference in a hockey game. We had our opportunities tonight but at the end of the day though, we didn't quite do enough. We need to be a little bit sharper, we need to be more detailed, we need to be better in all aspects from the coaches down to the players. We will be better tomorrow night and we will be ready to compete again and we will find a way to win."
Junior forward Kyle Marino netted Alaska's first goal of the 2018-19 season only 3:28 into the first period, giving the home team a 1-0 lead over the visitors. Freshman defenseman Chris Jandric let a long shot loose from the blueline that was blocked by a St. Cloud defenseman in front, before Marino was able to clean up the rebound in the slot for his first goal of the season and third of his career. Marino's goal marks C. Jandric's first career point as a Nanook, along with rookie forward Colin Doyle, who was awarded the secondary.
The Huskies responded later in the period, as SCSU's Blake Lizotte registered an even-strength tally at the 11:03 mark to tie the game at 1-1. Like the Nanooks, Lizotte was able to bury a wide shot backdoor that bounced off the boards next to Alaska junior netminder Anton Martinsson. Lizotte's goal was assisted by Patrick Newell and Sam Hentges.
St. Cloud's Newell picked up his second point of the game at the 1:14 mark of the second period, as the Huskies officially took a 2-1 lead. Despite being on a long change with the puck in their own zone, St. Cloud was able to make a stretch pass into the neutral zone, catching four Alaska players in the offensive zone and creating a 3-on-1 rush going the other way. After back-and-forth passing, Newell was able to drive home a quick shot to beat Martinsson. Newell's tally was assisted by Hentges for his second of the night and Ryan Poehling.
Newell registered his second goal of the night with a backdoor, power play tally at the 13:18 mark of the second period to create a two-goal lead over the Nanooks. Newell's third point of the night was assisted by Jack Ahcan and Nolan Walker.
The Nanooks pulled themselves to within one goal, as junior defenseman James LaDouce netted a four-on-four even-strength tally at the 2:59 mark of the third period. After a breakout attempt by the Nanooks was about to result in an icing, junior forward Tyler Cline sped past a St. Cloud's defenseman to negate the icing, being the first to the puck in the corner of the SCSU zone. Cline quickly passed the puck to LaDouce, who was trailing the play and wide open in the slot, before his wristshot was able to beat SCSU's goaltender David Hrenak. Sophomore forward Max Newton was credited the secondary assist on LaDouce's fifth career goal.
The Nanooks were outshot by their opponent 29-18, as Martinsson registered a game-high 26 saves, including 10 in the first period. On the other end of the ice, SCSU's Hrenak collected 16 saves.
In the special teams race, Alaska went 0-for-7 on the power play, while St. Cloud was able to go 1-for-7.
The Alaska Nanooks hockey team will look for redemption against St. Cloud tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 13), with another nonconference matchup at the Carlson Center beginning at 7:07pm AKT.
There will be a tailgate hosted by the Face-Off Club from 4:30pm-6:30pm AKT outside the front entrance of the Carlson Center with free food, drinks and music. Additionally, tomorrow's game will be part of the SOCK-tober event, where fans are encouraged to bring new and clean pairs of socks to throw into the bed of a truck at intermission. The socks will then be donated to the Fairbanks Rescue Mission for those in need throughout the upcoming winter months.