Feb. 24, 2013
Fairbanks, Alaska -- - Alaska scored three times on five power play chances - including the game-winner with 63 seconds remaining - to earn a series split with Michigan State. The Spartans had rallied to tie the game with 2:41 remaining in the game, but a power-play strike by Andy Taranto as time ticked off the clock and an empty-netter sealed it for the home team. MSU got another outstanding effort from junior netminder Will Yanakeff, who stopped 39 shots (and 66 of 69 shots faced on the weekend).
MSU is 10-21-3 (8-17-1-0 CCHA), and could not get its first three-game winning streak or CCHA sweep of the season after earning a 1-0 win over the Nanooks on Friday evening. MSU's penalty kill, which entered the game executing at better than 85% on the season, surrendered three goals to the Nanooks, which was all the home team needed to secure a victory in Alaska's final CCHA game - the Nanooks have a non-conference series with Alaska-Anchorage next weekend.
"It was disappointing to take that late penalty - at the end of what had been probably our best period of the weekend," said head coach Tom Anastos. "We gave up three power-play goals against tonight, and that's just not good enough. Special teams were critical in this game - its frustrating, and in games like this, you need your special teams to step up. We couldn't do that on the power play [0-for-7], and we couldn't do it on the PK. Will Yanakeff was absolutely outstanding - I wish he would have gotten a win out of it tonight, but it was good to see him play as well as he did, and hopefully he can gain some confidence out of that."
For the second night in a row, MSU took a 1-0 lead at the midpoint of the opening period. Matt Grassi sent the puck netward, which was saved by Keeney and came out to the left side for Matt Berry. Berry redirected it at the left post for his 13th goal of the season, staking an early lead for MSU. Travis Walsh also earned an assist on the play.
With 8:23 of the second period, a lengthy review of a call that was a no-goal for the Nanooks turned into an equalizing power-play tally for Michael Quinn. Quinn's shot from the point on the power play snuck into the top corner of the net and caromed out, and the officials reviewed the play and eventually declared the play resulted in a tying goal for the home team. Not only was Alaska awarded the goal after review, but extra time was put back on the clock, reverting to the game clock when the goal was scored - the clock was reset to 12:17 as play resumed.
Alaska took its first lead at 12:52 of the middle frame, as Andy Taranto tipped a shot from the blueline by Colton Parayko, and redirected the puck past Yanakeff in the slot for the Alaska's first lead of the weekend.
The Spartans had four of their seven power-play chances in the third period, and generated 12 shots - the most of any period in the two -game series - in the final frame. MSU did have some good looks on the power play, but Keeney held strong in his crease.
The momentum was short-lived for the Spartans, once Matt DeBlouw was sent to the box on a holding the stick penalty with 1:19 remaining, and Alaska got the winner on the ensuing power play. Taranto put back a rebound from the hash marks with 63 seconds remaining in regulation. With Yanakeff on the bench in favor of an extra attacker in the final seconds of the period, the Nanooks iced the game with an empty-net tally.
Emotions bubbled over as the seconds ticked off the clock, as Jake Chelios and Nolan Kaiser squared off in a heated showdown that earned both players 14 penalty minutes, but not a disqualification. A total of 32 penalty minutes were handed out for the extracurriculars which occurred with three seconds remaining on the clock.
The Spartans head back to the lower 48, and will focus on the final series of the CCHA season, a two-game set with Western Michigan at Munn Ice Arena next weekend.