March 10, 2013
Fairbanks, Alaska -- - Alaska was able to capitalize on special teams in Saturday's 4-1 victory over Michigan State, using a power-play and a shorthanded goal to build a lead and even the best-of-three series at 1-1 and force a deciding game three on Sunday evening. Tanner Sorenson had the Spartan marker, and Will Yanakeff had another 30+ save outing against the Nanooks.
Alaska blocked 23 shots on the night, denying the Spartans shooting lanes and clear looks at the net. Meanwhile, MSU went 0-for-9 on the power play overall, and allowed one extra-man marker in five chances against.
"I thought that in many ways, we played better tonight than last night when we got the win," said head coach Tom Anastos. "I thought they had momentum that we had trouble overcoming at times. They also got a power-play goal and one shorthanded - and special teams are a huge piece of success at this time of year. We just need to start preparing right now for Sunday."
Alaska took a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded marker in the first period, at the 10:08 mark by Cody Kunyk. Kunyk took a pass from Tyler Morley in the high slot and shot from below the right circle, flipping the puck over Yanakeff's glove-hand shoulder. The score came on a rush right after Brent Darnell had a prime chance on the doorstep, but Keeney turned it away and the Nanooks countered with that shorthanded rush.
The home team doubled its lead at 1:43 of the second. The Nanooks were buzzing in their offensive zone to open the period, forcing Yanakeff to make three big point-blank saves before the period was a minute old. While the Spartans tried to clear the zone. Jarrett Granberg's shot from the right point hit the post and went past a screened Yanakeff. There was a brief review, but the goal stood and gave the Nanooks a 2-0 lead.
Minutes later with MSU on the power play, a Jake Chelios blast hit the upper right corner of the net, and later went to a video review to see if it had crossed the line. Unfortunately for the Spartans, that shot - as well as a second post shot on the man advantage - did not go in, denying MSU a chance to cut into the lead.
Alaska pushed its lead to 3-0 at 12:02 of the middle period. The Spartans turned the puck over, and it was sent into the right circle by Kaare Odegard. Andy Taranto's wrister beat Yanakeff high for the winger's 15th goal of the season. That sent Alaska into the locker room with a 3-0 lead at the second intermission.
Alaska tacked a power-play goal on at 1:34 of the final period. Trevor Campbell shot the puck from the left point, and it pinballed off Nolan Nuysman in front. Campbell was credited with the assist. The Spartans countered with a goal by Tanner Sorenson, set up by Matt Berry, at 2:31 to break up the shutout. Four of the Anchorage, Alaska native's 15 career goals have come against the Nanooks.
The latter half of the third period was in large part a parade to the penalty box. In the final 11:30 of regulation, the Nanooks were whistled for seven penalties for 25 minutes, twice negating their own power plays by taking penalties within seconds of MSU headed to the box. The game was capped with a major assessed to Trevor Campbell, who got five minute for hitting from behind and a game misconduct. The Spartans could not capitalize despite three power plays in the final 10 minutes, and despite finishing the third period with 17 shots on net - two more than they had in Friday's 2-1 overtime victory - the Spartans could not pull closer.
Yanakeff was again strong for the Spartans, making several big saves and settling flurries in front of his net and finished with 31 saves. Keeney had 32 for the Nanooks.
The pivotal game three will be played on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Carlson Center.