FAIRBANKS - When in doubt, lean on your team captain to provide a big play when the team really needs one.
Senior left wing Colton Beck (Langley, British Columbia/Business Administration) answered the call Thursday night in game one of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association quarterfinals, netting the game winner 3 minutes, 40 seconds, into overtime to lead third-seeded Alaska to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory against sixth-seeded Alaska Anchorage at the Carlson Center.
The Nanooks (18-13-4) moved one game away from punching their ticket to the WCHA Final Five in Grand Rapids, Mich., as they lead the best-of-3 series 1-0 while the Seawolves (16-15-4) will need to win Friday to force a deciding game three on Saturday night.
In the extra session, freshman defenseman Justin Woods (Fairbanks, Alaska/Justice) fed the puck down in the left corner to rookie right wing Marcus Basara (Port Moody, British Columbia/Business Administration).
Basara dished the puck to an open Beck in the left circle and the senior captain wristed a shot from the front of the circle, beating UAA goaltender Rob Gunderson top shelf over his stick shoulder to clinch the game for Alaska.
Beck's goal moved him one point closer to the century mark as he stands at 99 career points on 42 goals and 57 assists.
Both Woods and Basara also led the team in scoring with one goal and assist each in the triumph. Junior netminder Sean Cahill (Calgary, Alberta/Business Administration) made 20 stops on 22 shots faced as he improved to 10-4-1 on the year.
Alaska outshot Anchorage 30-22 but needed just its first shot on goal in overtime to win the game. The Nanooks went 1-for-3 on the power play and killed off each of UAA's three man advantages.
The Seawolves, who had a pair of unassisted goals by Tanner Dusyk and Blake Tatchell, out-blocked the 'Nooks 15-12. Despite making 27 saves, including 11 in the third, Gunderson's record fell to 8-7-2 in 2013-14.
UAA grabbed a 1-0 lead at the 2:44 mark of the second period. Dusyk forced an Alaska turnover at the opposite end of the ice and skated the other way where he fired a shot under the glove hand of Cahill to make it a 1-0 game.
The Nanooks squared the game at 1-1 with just over eight minutes left to work in the second. Junior left wing Nolan Youngmun (Anchorage, Alaska/Petroleum Engineering) dished the puck from the right corner up to the left point where Woods took possession. He skated behind the UAA net and crept around the right side where he pushed it between the right pipe and Gunderson's skate for his first career goal.
Anchorage regained the lead 6:24 into the third due to another Nanook giveaway. Tatchell took the puck and skated around, then took a shot from the left end line that ricocheted off the pad of Cahill and through to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
Alaska scored the equalizer with 6:06 remaining in regulation. Basara took the puck up the left side of the ice and passed it to Atkinson in the offensive zone. The defender took the puck in the left circle and fed it to Basara in the slot and the WCHA All-Rookie Team member put it in the net glove side to force overtime.
Alaska and UAA hit the ice Friday night at 7:07 p.m. for game two of the series. The Patty Center ticket office will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to purchase tickets and fans can also get tickets to game two at the Carlson Center, Fred Meyer or online at ticketmaster.com.
-Colton Beck is one point shy of 100 points as his overtime goal pushed him to 99 points on 42 goals and 57 assists in 144 career games.
-Fairbanks native Justin Woods scored his first career goal 11:59 into the second period Thursday.
-Alaska has played in overtime games in four of its last six home playoff outings, winning three of them since the 2011 playoffs.