FAIRBANKS - When they needed to produce a big play, the Nanooks were able to execute, much to the delight of the more than 3,000 fans at the Carlson Center on Saturday night.
Alaska used a three-goal third period, including two in the final four minutes to upset fourth-ranked Ferris State 5-3 and earn its third consecutive Western Collegiate Hockey Association sweep.
The Nanooks (16-12-4, 13-11-2 WCHA) extended their win streak to six games and have now won eight of their last nine outings as they punched their ticket to the postseason with the victory against the Bulldogs (23-9-3, 18-6-2 WCHA). Alaska now sits tied for third place with Michigan Tech at 28 points with two games left to play while Ferris is tied for the top spot with Minnesota State at 38 points.
Senior center Cody Kunyk (Sherwood Park, Alberta/Business Administration) was named Ravn Alaska Nanook of the Game after scoring one goal and adding two assists to move into 14th place all alone on the program's scoring list with 128 points (56-72-128).
Fellow senior left wing Colton Beck (Langley, British Columbia/Business Administration) scored once and assisted on another score to help Alaska to its first series sweep over a top-5 ranked team since Jan. 18-19, 2013, when it beat then-No. 4/5 Notre Dame twice in South Bend, Ind.
Kunyk and Beck's freshman linemate, right wing Marcus Basara (Port Moody, British Columbia/Business Administration) tied Beck with a team-best two assists in the victory as all three first-line forwards produced a +3 plus/minus rating.
It was the sixth win in a row for junior goaltender Sean Cahill (Calgary, Alberta/Business Administration), as he improved to 8-3-1 on the season with 21 saves on 24 shots faced. His penalty-kill unit was outstanding all night, as Cahill never faced one shot on any of Ferris' four power plays as the Nanooks finished the weekend 9-for-10 on the PK.
Other goal scorers for Alaska Saturday included junior defenseman Trevor Campbell (Kansas City, Mo./Mechanical Engineering), freshman left wing Brandon Morley (Burnaby, British Columbia/Business Administration) and junior left wing Garrick Perry (Apple Valley, Minn./Communication).
FSU had a goal and assist each from Cory Kane and Andy Huff while Ryan Lowney scored the other tally in the team's second loss in as many days. Goaltender C.J. Motte took the loss in net once again Saturday despite making 36 saves, including 14 in the final period to drop his season mark to 22-7-3.
The Nanooks only needed 19 shots in last night's win but put the puck on net early and often in the final game of the series as they outshot the 'Dogs 41-24, including 17-9 in the final 20 minutes.
Alaska also controlled the face-off circle by the same margin as shots on goal and held a 21-17 blocks advantage, including four from both sophomore defensemen Josh Atkinson (Spruce Grove, Alberta/Business Administration) and Colton Parayko (St. Albert, Alberta/Business Administration).
The Bulldogs used an early blunder by the Nanooks to take a 1-0 lead at 3:41. With Alaska on the power play, it turned the puck over and Cory Kane was able to collect the possession and race the other end, where he beat Sean Cahill with a deking move over his stick hand.
The Nanooks quickly tied it at 1-1 off a second-chance opportunity at the 6:34 mark of the first. Josh Atkinson took a shot from the left point that was initially saved by C.J. Motte but the rebound went to Cody Kunyk and he buried it for his 18th score of the year.
In the second, the Nanooks took their first lead at the game at 12:57. Beck battled to get the puck to the point where Michael Quinn dumped it in the corner. Motte fell with the traffic in front and Campbell took a shot from atop the right circle that beat the Ferris netminder to make it 2-1 in favor of Alaska.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Lowney knotted the game at 2-2 just over a minute later. Huff circled behind the net and fed a pass to Lowney at the point and he fired a shot upstairs to equalize the contest.
Alaska regained the lead at 3-2 with a goal by the captain 3:58 into the third period. Kunyk brought the puck up ice and dished it off to Basara, who then centered it for Beck and he beat Motte out in front.
With the crowd loudly behind the Nanooks, they were able to double the lead to 4-2 with 3:52 remaining immediately following a successful penalty kill. Morley came back on the ice after serving his penalty, received the puck off a turnover and it was him and Kunyk all alone in the offensive end and Morley beat Motte from the right side off the pass from Kunyk.
Perry provided insurance with his tally at the 18:58 mark of the final period, never allowing the Bulldogs to go with an extra attacker down two goals. Perry received the puck and brought it up ice, and on the rush, used a backhand shot for his 11th goal of the season to make it 5-2.
Ferris found the net at 19:48 with a goal by Huff but the score was a little too late for the visitors to have a chance.
Alaska now turns its attention to one final regular-season series against arch-rival Alaska Anchorage. The Nanooks and Seawolves will hit the ice in Fairbanks March 7-8 to close the season slate and also determine the 2014 Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup champion. The season series is tied 1-1 after a split in Anchorage back in December. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. AST both nights.