FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Alaska battled back from a two-goal deficit and junior left wing Garrick Perry (Apple Valley, Minn./Communication) ignited more than 3,000 hockey fans when he scored with only 25.2 seconds remaining in overtime to defeat 12th-ranked Denver, 3-2, in game two of the Brice Alaska Goal Rush Friday night at the Carlson Center.
Perry received the puck off a turnover at center ice and brought it across the blue line where he fired a shot that was blocked by DU defenseman Josiah Didier. The puck slid underneath Didier and Perry picked up the puck and lunged forward with his body going parallel to the ice and fired a wrist shot in the air past net minder Sam Brittain for the game-winning goal.
The Nanooks (2-1-0) trailed 2-0 with under 30 seconds remaining in the second period before they rally against the Pioneers (2-1-0) began. With the seconds ticking down in the second stanza, sophomore center Tyler Morley (Burnaby, British Columbia/Business Administration) wrapped around the net and took a shot on net that was saved by Brittain but rookie right wing Marcus Basara (Port Moody, British Columbia/Business Administration) got the rebound on the left side of the crease and shot it high over Brittain's stick hand for the goal to make it a one-goal game at 2-1 with 13.9 seconds left on the game clock.
Into the third, the 'Nooks tied the Pioneers at the 6:53 mark of the period on the power play. Working from the point, sophomore defenseman Colton Parayko (St. Albert, Alberta/Business Administration took a pass from senior defenseman Michael Quinn (Surrey, British Columbia/Geography). He fed it from the right point through traffic to senior center Cody Kunyk (Sherwood Park, Alberta/Business Administration), who took a shot inside the left circle that found the back of the net for the game-tying score.
Both teams battled and great opportunities to score a potential game-winning goal late in regulation but both Brittain and Alaska freshman goaltender Davis Jones (St. Albert, Alberta/Elementary Education) made huge saves to force overtime, where Perry eventually lifted the locals to the win.
Perry led all players with two points on one goal and one assist to go with his game-best +2 plus/minus rating. Jones (1-0-0) garnered the victory in his collegiate debut, making 23 saves while Brittain (2-1-0) took the loss between the pipes despite making 31 stops. Alaska outshot Denver 34-25 and both teams put their bodies on the line, as the Pioneers blocked 23 shots to the Nanooks' 20. Alaska went 1-for-6 on the power play but killed off all four of Denver's man-advantage opportunities.
Sophomore center Gabe Levin opened the scoring for Denver at 17:40 of the opening period with an unassisted tally. The Nanooks controlled the puck behind their own net, but Levin slipped in there and stole it away on the right side and came across Jones in front and slid it past the freshman on the left edge for the 1-0 lead.
The Nanooks nearly tied the game at 13:30 of the second on a 2-on-1 break but freshman left wing Josh Erickson (Roseau, Minn./General Studies) saw his blast go off the top left pipe to keep it a 1-0 lead for DU. Just over 90 seconds later at 15:08, the Pioneers doubled their lead to 2-0.
DU extended the lead to 2-0 15:08 into the second period after the puck took an unfortunate bounce that gave DU an odd-man advantage in Alaska's defensive zone and freshman center Matt Marcinew lit the lamp for Denver after a pair of passes set up the score.
The Nanooks return to action Saturday night against Western Michigan, which rolled to a 6-2 win over Alaska Anchorage in game one of the tournament. The winner of tomorrow night's matchup will be crowned the 2013 Brice Alaska Goal Rush champions.
Alaska was the first team to score on Sam Brittain this season as the senior goaltender went 159:47 without giving up a score to start the season. Backing up to last year, he had gone 193:49 without giving up a goal.
The last time the Nanooks overcame a two-goal deficit to win was back on Oct. 19, 2012 against Merrimack (trailed 2-0), scoring three unanswered power-play goals in the second period to win 3-2. That was also the first day of last year's Brice Alaska Goal Rush. The last time the 'Nooks defeated a ranked team in overtime came back on Dec. 11, 2010 - a 4-3 victory at then-No. 18 Ferris State in Big Rapids, Mich.
For the second straight year, Alaska will play in a true Brice Alaska Goal Rush championship game. Last season, it upset then-No. 2 North Dakota 2-1 to win the title. Alaska is now 9-1-1 all-time in the history of the tournament and extended its tournament win streak to seven straight games.