FAIRBANKS - In a night where Alaska donned special arctic camouflage jerseys in honor of military appreciation, the season-high 3,313 fans had plenty to cheer about as junior goaltender Sean Cahill (Calgary, Alberta/Business Administration) had a career night to lead the Nanooks to a 4-1 upset win over fourth-ranked Ferris State in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play Friday night at the Carlson Center.
Cahill stopped a career-best 36 shots and allowed just one goal to lead the Nanooks (15-12-4, 12-11-2 WCHA) to their fifth win in a row and seventh out of their last eight as the Calgary native improved his season mark to 7-3-1 and was named the Ravn Alaska Nanook of the Game.
Sophomore center Tyler Morley (Burnaby, British Columbia/Business Administration) and junior left wing Garrick Perry (Apple Valley, Minn./Communication) both scored one goal and had an assist while junior defenseman Josh Atkinson (Spruce Grove, Alberta/Business Administration) had a season-best two assists with a +3 plus/minus rating.
The Nanooks, who have outshot teams in eight the of the previous nine outings coming into Friday, didn't need a huge number of shots on goal as they were able to beat C.J. Motte four times on just 19 tries on net while the Bulldogs (23-8-3, 18-5-2 WCHA) only scored once on 37 shots. It is the least amount of shots Alaska took in a victory since Jan. 3, when it beat Minnesota State 4-2 on 18 shots.
Both penalty kill units played exceptionally well as the Nanooks went 5-for-6 while a man down and the league-leading Bulldogs were a perfect 8-for-8 on the PK. Alaska controlled the face-off circle by a 34-27 margin but Ferris held a slim 11-9 blocks advantage.
Motte, who entered the weekend with the league's best win percentage and second-best goals against average (2.22) and save percentage (.928), took the loss for FSU as he dropped to 22-6-3 after making only 15 saves (.789 - 15/19).
Senior left wing Colton Beck (Langley, British Columbia/Business Administration) lit the lamp very early, as just 34 seconds had elapsed when he scored his 12th goal of the year off a nice bounce from a blocked shot by senior defenseman Michael Quinn (Surrey, British Columbia/Geography) at the opposite end of the ice to make it 1-0. Beck moved one point closer to the century mark, as he now stands at 94 career points.
Sophomore right wing Nolan Huysmans (Ponoka, Alberta/Business Administration) put the Nanooks up 2-0 at the 7:41 mark of the second period. Atkinson moved the puck up ice and rookie center Shawn Hochhausen (Kelowna, British Columbia/Petroleum Engineering) tipped the pass in the neutral zone to Huysmans, who brought it into the offensive and beat Motte with a wrister stick side.
The game continued to go Alaska's way just over five-and-a-half minutes later at 13:12, as a turnover forced by Perry gave the puck to Morley and he fired a shot top shelf over the glove-hand shoulder to extend the advantage to 3-0.
Ferris got on the board at 15:41 with a power-play tally, trimming the deficit to 3-1. Nice passing on the man advantage gave way for an Andy Huff goal from the right circle, as he beat Cahill glove side.
The Nanooks regained a three-goal lead 12:48 into final stanza on a 2-on-1 break. Atkinson centered a pass to Morley and he and Perry found themselves on with only one defender to beat. Morley dished the puck from left to right and Perry buried it past a diving Motte for the final score of the game.
Alaska moved into a tie for fourth place in the WCHA standings with Alaska Anchorage as both 49th state squads have 26 points. The Nanooks and Bulldogs will complete the weekend set and season series Saturday night with a 7:07 p.m. puck drop.