FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Alaska Nanooks hockey's junior goaltender Anton Martinsson stopped all 32 shots he faced on Saturday to backstop the Nooks to a 1-0 upset over the No. 4th-ranked Minnesota State Mankato Mavericks in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association contest at the Carlson Center. The win moves Alaska's overall record to 10-19-3 and 10-14-2-2 in WCHA play, while the Mavericks drop to 25-7-2 on the season and 20-5-1-1 in conference contests.
With Saturday's victory, the Nooks earn a weekend split with the nationally-ranked Mavericks, with each team walking away with three conference points. MSU clinched the regular season championship title yesterday with a 6-1 win over the Nanooks, while Alaska remains seated in seventh place in the conference rankings with 34 points.
"What a difference 24 hours can make," head coach Erik Largen said on Saturday. "We were licking our wounds a little bit after Friday's loss but as the guys have done all season long, they bounced back on Saturday. It was a 60-minute effort from all the guys in the lineup tonight. Guys played hard and guys played their hearts out and when we do that, we're pretty successful. It's great to see, I'm proud of the guys for the effort, proud of the win, it's a huge win, and it was a good one to finish off at the Carlson Center. "
Saturday's shutout was Martinsson's first of the season and second of his career, with both coming against the Mavericks. Martinsson's last shutout was a 5-0 victory over MSU at home on Jan. 12, 2018. It also marked the Nanooks' first shutout of the 2018-19 season, making their last home game of the season that much sweeter.
The Klippan, Sweden native tallied 32 saves on Saturday, including 12 in the second period and 11 in the third. On the other end of the ice, Mankato's rookie netminder Dryden McKay collected 21 saves against the Nanooks.
Junior forward Troy Van Tetering scored the only goal in Saturday's contest, earning his fifth goal of the season at the 16:05 mark of the second period. The Nanooks entered the MSU zone on a 3-on-2 rush, before fellow junior forward Tyler Cline was able to pick-up a drop-pass and fire a shot on net. MSU's McKay was able to make the initial save but unable to cover the puck, with Van Tetering burying the rebound by the post.
Both the Nanooks and the Mavericks were unable to capitalize on the man-advantage on Saturday, as Alaska went 0-for-3, while Minnesota State went 0-for-2.
The Alaska Nanooks will wrap up the 2018-19 regular season on the road next week, taking on in-state rival Alaska Anchorage in a two-game series this Friday, Mar. 1 and Saturday, Mar. 2 at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. Puck-drop both nights is scheduled for 7:07pm AKST.