FAIRBANKS, Alaska - A four-goal third period, and a hat trick courtesy of junior forward Steven Jandric, lifted the Alaska Nanooks hockey team to a 5-2 victory over in-state rival Alaska Anchorage in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association matchup at the Carlson Center on Friday night. Alaska improves to 15-13-5 overall and 13-9-5-2 in conference play, while the Seawolves drop to 4-22-7 overall and 4-17-6-3 in WCHA games.
Alaska's Friday night efforts earned the team three WCHA points, where they remain tied for fourth in the league standings with Bowling Green, each with 46 points through 27 league contests. With Ferris State falling to Lake Superior State earlier in the night, the UAA Seawolves clinched the eighth and final WCHA Playoff spot.
Alaska still has a chance to finish as high as third place in the league rankings and as low as sixth. The WCHA teams ranked first through fourth in the league standings following the conclusion of the 2019-20 regular season will host teams five through eight next weekend in the opening round of the WCHA Playoffs.
The Nanooks had nine skaters make the scoresheet on Friday, including five players with multi-point efforts. S. Jandric led the rally with three goals, while senior forward Colton Leiter (1G, 1A), junior forward Max Newton (2A), junior forward Justin Young (2A) and sophomore defenseman Chris Jandric (2A) each earned two-point nights.
The Seawolves broke open the scoring in Friday's matchup, as Tomi Hiekkavirta netted a power play tally at 12:06 of the first period to take a 1-0 lead for the visitors. UAA's Luc Brown capitalized on a Nanooks turnover on the breakout before giving the Seawolves a 2-0 lead at 11:52 of the second.
Alaska got on the board shortly after, as Young caught Leiter exiting the penalty box for a stretch pass through the neutral zone. Leiter entered the offensive zone on a one-on-one with a UAA defender before using him as a screen and sneaking a low shot past Seawolf netminder Brandon Perrone to pull the Nooks to within one. Sophomore defenseman Jordan Muzzillo was given the secondary assist.
Senior forward Tyler Cline tied the game only 4:05 into the third period, as Alaska caught UAA on transition and went on a 3-on-2 rush. Young was able to throw a saucer pass across the slot to Cline, whose one-timer marked his seventh goal of the season. Leiter was credited with the secondary assist.
The floodgates opened for S. Jandric less than four minutes later, earning his first goal of the night at the 7:37 mark of the third. In less than a five minute span, S. Jandric netted two more goals (including one on the power play), to lift the Nooks to a 5-2 victory. Senior forward Kylar Hope, Newton, C. Jandric and senior defenseman James LaDouce all chipped in on one of S. Jandric's three goals throughout the third.
In net, senior goaltender Anton Martinsson backstopped the Nanooks with 29 saves, including 15 in the second period alone. On the other end of the ice, UAA's Perrone earned 22 saves before being relieved by Kris Carlson, who collected one.
The Nooks were outshot by UAA 31-28, but went 1-for-3 on the man-advantage, while UAA went 1-for-5.
Friday's victory also counted toward the coveted Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup, where the Nanooks take a 2-1 lead over their in-state rivals. The #AKGovCup is determined by WCHA points accumulated through the four-game series, with the Nanooks currently sitting with six points, while the Seawolves have three. UAA needs to outright win in 65 minutes of play tomorrow in order to keep their Governor's Cup chances alive. If the series is tied at 2-2 (six points each), the #AKGovCup will be determined by a shootout.
The Alaska Nanooks hockey team will close out the 2019-20 regular season tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 29) with game four of the Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup. Saturday's game will also honor nine seniors, with Senior Night beginning at 6:55 p.m. AKT. Puck-drop at the Carlson Center is slated for 7:07 p.m. AKT.