FAIRBANKS - Minnesota state capitalized on all of its chances in Saturday's Western Collegiate Hockey Association series finale and used three goals in the final 10 minutes to take a 6-4 victory from Alaska at the Carlson Center.
The Mavericks (12-8-0, 10-4-0 WCHA) earned their first win ever against the Nanooks (8-9-3, 5-8-1 WCHA) in the 12 all-time meetings after getting two goals and one assist from Jean-Paul Lafontaine, who was named the first star of the game. Chase Grant had one score and two assists while Matt Leitner had two helpers in the win.
The 'Nooks saw another career performance on Saturday as junior defenseman Trevor Campbell (Kansas City, Mo./Mechanical Engineering) had his first three-point game as a collegian and fourth all-time multi-point outing with one goal and two assists. He was named the Era Alaska Nanook of the Game for his efforts.
Rookie right wing Marcus Basara (Port Moody, British Columbia/Business Administration) and senior left wing Colton Beck (Langley, British Columbia/Business Administration) both had one goal and one assist each. Senior defenseman Michael Quinn (Surrey, British Columbia/Geography) matched Campbell with two assists as well.
Cole Huggins earned the victory between the pipes after turning away 21 shots on 25 faced to improve his season record to 8-4-0 while freshman goaltender Davis Jones (St. Albert, Alberta/Business Administration) made 27 saves in the loss and fell to 4-4-1 on the year.
The Mavs outshot the Nanooks 33-25, including 15-7 in the final period, which resulted in the visitors striking three times. They also held a slim 20-19 advantage on blocks as both Blake Thompson and Campbell had four blocks each for the game-high honors. Both squads also went 2-for-5 on the power play as MSU had 10 shots on the man advantage to Alaska's four.
Basara opened the scoring six minutes into the first period to put the Nanooks up 1-0. Campbell forced a turnover and fed it to Morley and he passed it to the right crease and Basara was there to finish the job. Less than two minutes later, Zach Stepan had a backhand shot that trickled past Jones at 7:56 to knot it up at 1-1.
MSU scored 1:25 into the second period to grab the lead it would not give up the rest of the night. Lafontaine fired a wrister from the left circle that beat Jones five-hole to put the visitors ahead 2-1. The Mavericks doubled the advantage to 3-1 at 9:54 with a power-play tally. Leitner took a shot from the right circle and Lafontaine was out in front with the redirect goal.
The Nanooks got back to within one at 3-2 with a man-advantage goal at 18:09. Beck dished the puck from the right circle up to Campbell at the point and he fired a one-timer snap shot over the glove hand of Huggins.
The third saw all five goals scored in the final 9:38 of regulation. MSU scored at 10:22 with a scrum in front of Jones and Grant went top shelf for the score. The Nanooks responded 23 seconds later at 10:45 with a power play score as Beck redirected a shot from the point by Quinn to cut it to 4-3.
Minnesota State came right back with another goal at 12:23 as Max Gaede fired a rocket past Jones stick side for his first of the season after receiving a pass from Teddy Blueger to make it 5-3. The Mavs upped it to 6-3 at 14:46 with a tap-in goal by Jordan Nelson.
Alaska added a goal late to make it 6-4 as freshman defenseman Justin Woods (Fairbanks, Alaska/Justice) took a shot from the point and rookie left wing Josh Erickson (Roseau, Minn./General Studies) redirected it past the line for his first career goal at 18:59.
The Nanooks will head out on a two-week four-game road trip, beginning with a series at Bowling Green, Jan. 10-11 in Bowling Green, Ohio. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. (EST) both nights from the BGSU Ice Arena.
The games will be televised on KFXF Fox 7 in Fairbanks. The game can also be seen on WCHA TV through America One Sports and heard on the radio at ESPN Radio 820 AM KCBF or online at 820sports.com.