FAIRBANKS - Freshman goaltender Davis Jones (St. Albert, Alberta/Business Administration) and sophomore center Tyler Morley (Burnaby, British Columbia/Business Administration) both had the best outings of their respective careers and Alaska scored three goals in the final period to down Minnesota State 4-2 in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play Friday night at the Carlson Center.
Jones, the Era Alaska Nanook of the Game, turned away a career-high 37 shots on 39 faced to improve his season record to 4-3-1 and also aid the Nanooks (8-8-3, 5-7-1 WCHA) to improve their unbeaten streak to four games. The hometown win also snapped the Mavericks' (11-8-0, 9-4-0 WCHA) league-best seven-game win streak. Alaska remained perfect against MSU, improving to 11-0-0 in the all-time series.
Morley had a career-high three points in the victory after notching a pair of goals and adding an assist in what would be his first multi-goal game as a Nanook. Senior left wing Colton Beck (Langley, British Columbia/Business Administration) and senior center Cody Kunyk (Sherwood Park, Alberta/Business Administration) both turned in a one-goal, two-assist evening, all of which they accumulated in the final 20 minutes.
The Nanooks were outshot 39-18 in the victory, which was the largest shot differential in an Alaska win this season. They went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill, extending their streak to 13 straight successful PK's, and made 28 blocks, including a game-best five from sophomore defenseman Colton Parayko (St. Albert, Alberta/Business Administration).
The Mavericks had their two goals scored by Matt Leitner and Johnny McInnis and netminder Cole Huggins (7-4-0) saw his five-game win streak come to an end after he made 14 saves on 17 faced. Alaska scored on an empty netter late in the third to account for the 18 shots.
Morley put the Nanooks ahead 1-0 10:47 into the opening stanza. Sophomore right wing Nolan Huysmans (Ponoka, Alberta/Business Administration) took a shot from out in front and Morley redirected the puck past Huggins out in front for his eighth score of the year. The first period saw a lot of action on both sides with a combined 22 shots between Alaska and MSU.
The second period was plagued by penalties, totaling 37 minutes, and the Mavs were able to knot it up at 1-1 on a 4-on-4 score at 17:08 of the period. Jones made the initial save on a shot by Bryce Gervais but Leitner collected the rebound and beat Jones stick side.
Into the third, Alaska regained the lead at 2-1 3:47 into the frame immediately following a penalty kill. Kunyk made a great deking move around Josh Nelson and fed the puck left to right to an open Morley who fired a one-timer for his ninth of the season and second of the game.
The lead stretched to 3-1 at the 15:07 mark of the third with a beautiful tic-tac-toe play by the first forward line. On the 3-on-2 break, freshman right wing Marcus Basara (Port Moody, British Columbia/Business Administration) dished it off to Kunyk, who immediately gave it to Beck and the captain backhanded it home to give the 'Nooks a two-goal advantage.
Minnesota State answered at 16:39 with an extra attacker goal by McInnis. At the point, Brett Stern passed the puck up to McInnis and he spun and fired a shot to close the gap to 3-2.
MSU would go back to the empty net in the final minute but a face-off win by Morley set up Beck to poke the puck to Kunyk who went the distance and tapped in his league-leading 12th goal on the year and the 50th of his career at 19:23.
Alaska and MSU will close out the weekend set Saturday night with the puck dropping at 7:07 p.m.