FAIRBANKS - Senior center Cody Kunyk (Sherwood Park, Alberta/Business Administration) may have proven himself to be the league's top player on Friday night.
After sophomore center Tyler Morley (Burnaby, British Columbia/Business Administration) had already given Alaska a 2-0 lead with a pair of scores on visiting Alaska Anchorage in game three of the Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup, Kunyk decided he wanted to score - a lot.
So much in fact that he lit the lamp a career-best four times to lead the Nanooks (17-12-2, 14-11-2 WCHA) to a dominant 7-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association victory at the Carlson Center in front of 3,921 fans.
With the win, the Nanooks, who have won seven in a row and nine of their last 10, wrapped up a first-round home series and the conference's No. 3 seed for the WCHA playoffs.
They also took a two games to one lead in the best-of-four Governor's Cup series against the Seawolves (15-14-4, 11-12-4 WCHA), who will need a win tomorrow to force a shootout to determine the champion; otherwise, the Nanooks will claim the Cup title for the fifth consecutive year and 13th time in the 21-year history.
Junior goaltender Sean Cahill (Calgary, Alberta/Business Administration) got more than enough help from his offense as he won his seventh straight start to improve to 9-3-1 after he made 20 saves on 22 shots faced.
Aside from the six combined goals from Kunyk and Morley, junior defenseman Trevor Campbell (Kansas City, Mo./Mechanical Engineering) had a three-point night as he scored in the final minute to complete the team's scoring while adding assists on each of the first two goals.
Alaska had four other players record two-assist outings in senior left wing Colton Beck (Langley, British Columbia/Business Administration), sophomore defenseman Josh Atkinson (Spruce Grove, Alberta/Business Administration) and rookie right wing Marcus Basara (Port Moody, British Columbia/Business Administration).
The Nanooks outshot the 'Wolves 32-22 and held a 21-17 blocks advantage, led by a game-best four from sophomore defenseman Colton Parayko (St. Albert, Alberta/Business Administration), while controlling the face-off circle 34-29.
Chris Kamal took the loss for UAA after allowing seven goals on 32 shots, evening his season mark to 6-6-1. Anchorage saw its two goals, both in the third period, by Brad Duwe and Brett Cameron.
The Nanooks wasted little time to get on the board as Morley put the hosts up 1-0 just 69 seconds in to regulation. Morley took a pass from Campbell in the neutral zone and skate around Blake Tatchell into the offensive zone where he first a slap shot high over the glove hand of Kamal for the game's first goal.
Morley doubled the lead to 2-0 at the 18:40 mark of the first. After Kamal had already made two initial saves with traffic out in front Morley skate in and backhanded the puck past the UAA netminder for his 17th tally of the year.
Thirteen seconds later, sophomore right wing Nolan Huysmans (Ponoka, Alberta/Business Administration) fed the puck in the slot where Kunyk fired a one-timer for his first of the night to make it 3-0 at 18:53.
Kunyk pushed it to 4-0 with an unassisted goal just before the midway point of regulation at 9:59 of the second period. Blake Leask controlled the puck in his own zone but passed it directly to Kunyk right out in front and he used a nice, deking move to net his second score of the evening.
Kunyk sent the hats flying onto the ice with his second-career hat trick only 46 ticks into the third. Off another turnover by Leask, Beck dished the puck to an open Kunyk in the offensive zone and he buried it stick side past Kamal.
UAA finally got on the board 9:13 into the final stanza. Hayden Trupp was battling with a pair of Alaska skaters behind the net of Cahill when Duwe skate up and took it, wrapped around and pushed it past Cahill before he realized the change of possession.
Kunyk scored his fourth goal of the night and WCHA league-leading 22nd goal of the year a little more than two-and-a-half minutes later. On the power play, Parayko fed the puck to the point for an open Beck and the captain dished it to Kunyk, whose one-timer from the top of the right circle lit the lamp to make it 6-1 at 11:44.
The Nanooks completed the scoring output with 40.7 to go when Campbell fired a wrister from the point after yet another UAA turnover in its own zone. The Seawolves got another wraparound score with 13.2 left but Cameron's tally was a little too little, a little too late for the visitors.
Alaska and UAA will battle it out Saturday night for the Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup title and a win or tie for the Nanooks would give them a five-peat. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. and prior to the regular-season finale, Alaska's three seniors, Beck, Kunyk and senior defenseman Michael Quinn (Surrey, British Columbia/Geography), will be recognized for Senior Night during pregame.
Three Stars of the Game:
1st - Cody Kunyk (4g) - Ravn Alaska Nanook of the Game
2nd - Tyler Morley (2g)
3rd - Sean Cahill (20sv, 7th straight win)
-First time Alaska scored seven on UAA since its 7-4 win back on Feb. 26, 2010, in Anchorage
-Kunyk moved into 13th all-time on the program's list (60-72-132), surpassing Wayne Sawchuk ('93 - 129 points)
-Kunyk is the first Nanook to record 20 or more goals since Kyle Greentree, who had 21 in 2006-07
-He is the first Alaska player with 22 or more goals in a season since Jeff Trembecky had 24 in 1996-97
-He is also the first 40-point scorer (42) since Dion Knelsen and Andy Taranto had 43 and 42, respectively, in 2009-10