FAIRBANKS - Junior goaltender Sean Cahill (Calgary, Alberta/Business Administration) could do no wrong in game one of the series against Bemidji State, registering 27 saves and notching his first-career shutout as Alaska came away with a 3-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association victory Friday night at the Carlson Center.
Cahill, the Era Alaska Nanook of the Game, made 14 of his 27 stops right in front of the net at point-blank range and improved his season record to 2-2-1 while giving the Nanooks (10-11-4, 7-10-2 WCHA) their first shutout victory in over two years.
The last time Alaska blanked an opponent came back on Nov. 26, 2011 - a 2-0 win at Bowling Green. It was also the first home clean sheet since Nov. 18 of that same season, as it triumphed 2-0 against Ferris State.
Junior left wing Jared Larson (Apple Valley, Minn./Business Administration) recorded one goal and one assist, senior center Cody Kunyk (Sherwood Park, Alberta/Business Administration) struck shorthanded and freshman right wing Marcus Basara (Port Moody, British Columbia/Business Administration) provided insurance with an empty-net score late in regulation.
Alaska outshot Bemidji 31-27 and dominated the face-off circle 38-20. The 'Nooks also held a 19-14 advantage in blocks, led by sophomore defenseman Colton Parayko (St. Albert, Alberta/Business Administration), who had five.
The Nanooks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill, and have only allowed one power-play goal in their opponents' combined 20 power-play opportunities over the past five games.
The Nanooks converted on three of those penalty kills in the opening period and capitalized on a turnover in Bemidji's defensive end to grab a 1-0 lead at 14:23 with a shorthanded tally. BSU netminder Jesse Wilkins went to pass the puck off to Matt Prapavessis but Larson was there to pick off the pass. He found a crashing Kunyk on the right side with a backhand pass and Kunyk fired his 13th goal of the season with a shot high over the glove hand of Wilkins.
The score remained 1-0 for the next 42 minutes until Larson doubled Alaska's lead 16:29 into the final period. Sophomore right wing Nolan Huysmans (Ponoka, Alberta/Business Administration) brought the puck up the right side, rounded the net and found a wide-open Larson out in front where he buried it after Wilkins fell out of position on the rush.
Bemidji went with an extra attacker for much of the final three minutes and Basara ended all hope for the Beavers when he scored his WCHA rookie-leading 10th goal of the year on the empty net with only 8.7 seconds left on the clock.
Wilkins took the loss for Bemidji State after stopping 28 shots on 30 faced, evening his season mark at 2-2-3.
Alaska and BSU complete the weekend set Saturday night at 7:07 p.m. at the Carlson Center.