|1st||7:47||AFA||1-0||PP||Matt Koch (1)||Jonathan Kopacka/1, Brady Tomlak/1|
|2nd||3:32||AFA||2-0||PP||Erik Baskin (1)||Tyler Ledford/1, Matt Koch/1|
|2nd||6:01||AKF||1-2||EV||Tristan Thompson (1)||Zach Frye/1, Tyler Cline/1|
|3rd||0:11||AKF||2-2||EV||Zach Frye (1)||-|
|3rd||4:38||AFA||3-2||EV GW||Brady Tomlak (1)||Evan Giesler/1, Jordan Himley/1|
|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||SOG|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|Air Force (1-0-0)||2/6||9/18||0|
|Air Force Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||Saves|
|Billy Christopoulos (W, 1-0-0)||60:00||2||12||11||9||32|
|Anton Martinsson (L, 0-1-0)||58:55||3||9||4||10||23|
FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Despite a two-point night from senior defenseman Zach Frye, the Alaska Nanooks hockey team fell 3-2 to the United States Air Force Academy in a non-conference match-up at the Carlson Center on Friday night. The season-opening loss drops Alaska's overall record to 0-1-0 while the Falcons improve to 1-0-0 overall.
"For the most part, I was happy with how our guys played tonight. They played hard and competed and played with a good jump early on," head coach Lance West said on Friday. "I thought we played extremely well in the second period and we had our opportunities. Our guys fought and fought and battled back from a two-nothing deficit and stayed composed so there's still a lot of good things to come out of tonight."
Special teams proved to be the difference-maker on Friday, as the Falcons were able to capitalize on two power plays (2-for-6), while the Nooks went 0-for-7 on the man-advantage.
"We had a few breakdowns on the penalty kill and they took advantage on a bad back-check by our guys," West continued. "You can't do that against a really good team like Air Force. They are well-coached and they brought a little jump in the third period. Ultimately, we lost the special teams battle tonight and when you do that, it's tough to come back.
As a team, Alaska outshot their opponent 34-26, peppering Air Force goaltender Billy Christopoulos with double-digit shots on goal in each of the 20 minute periods throughout the night. Christopoulos concluded his night with a game-high 32 saves, while Alaska sophomore goaltender Anton Martinsson collected 23 saves in his collegiate debut.
Air Force found the back of the night first on Friday night, when Falcon defenseman Matt Koch netted an early power play tally at the 7:47 mark of the first period. Air Force's Brady Tomlak was positioned at the top of the umbrella in the Alaska defensive zone before kicking it to Jonathan Kopacka on the flank. Kopacka found a seam through the slot and made a crisp pass backdoor to Koch, who was creeping in for the quick one-timer.
At the 3:32 mark of the second period, Air Force struck once more on the man-advantage with goal from Erik Baskin. Like Koch, Baskin caught the Alaska defenseman off-guard and snuck in backdoor to take a 2-0 lead over the home team. Baskin's power play goal was assisted by Ledford and Koch, for his second point of the night.
Three minutes later, Alaska found themselves on the power play at the 3:58 mark of the second period. The Nanooks' power play unit dominated puck possession throughout the man-advantage and tired out the Air Force penalty killers, who found themselves penned in their own defensive zone with the long change. Three seconds after the penalty expired and both teams were at even-strength, sophomore forward Tyler Cline corralled the puck in the corner and kicked it up to Frye at the top of the zone. Frye passed the puck along the blueline to his defensive partner, sophomore Tristan Thompson, who found a seam through traffic to put Alaska on the board 2-1.
Things were looking up for the Nanooks going into the third period, as Frye scored his first goal of the season 11 seconds into period. Off of the center-ice face-off, Air Force fumbled the puck in the neutral zone and Frye was able to capitalize on the turnover and enter the offensive zone on a breakaway. Frye moved in on Christopoulos and made a move, scoring five-hole to tie the game at 2-2.
Despite the momentum moving in favor of the home team, Air Force caught a break with an odd-man rush entering the Alaska zone 3-on-2. Upon entry, Air Force's Evan Giesler kicked the puck to Tomlak, who was the high-trailer, and wristed one past Martinsson for the game-winner. Tomlak's first goal of the season and second point of the night was assisted by Giesler and Jordan Himley.
"We'll take all the positives from tonight and grow," West concluded. "They are a really good team and we think we are also a really good team. We'll regroup, fix our few mistakes and be sharper on our opportunities."
The Alaska Nanooks hockey team will face-off against the Falcons once again tomorrow (Saturday), Oct. 7 in another non-conference match-up at the Carlson Center. Puck-drop is slated for 7:07pm AKDT.