FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Alaska Nanooks hockey team earned their eighth-straight Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup and home ice advantage for the first round of the 2020 Western Collegiate Hockey Association Playoffs after defeating the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves 6-1 at the Carlson Center on Saturday night.
The Nanooks close out the 2019-20 regular season with a 16-13-5 overall mark and 14-9-5-2 record in conference play. The 16 victories within the regular season is the most the Alaska Nanooks hockey team has had since the 2014-15 season.
Alaska's three WCHA points tied them for fourth place in the conference ranking with Bowling Green, each with 49 points. Alaska wins the tiebreaker against BGSU (conference record), allowing them to host the first round of the playoffs next weekend. It'll be the first time the Nanooks have hosted the WCHA Playoffs since the 2013-14 season, their first in the conference. Alaska would have hosted in the first round of the 2014-15 season, but was given a postseason ban due to NCAA infractions from the 2009-12 seasons.
In addition to playoffs, Alaska earned their eighth consecutive Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup, ranging from 2013 through 2020. The 2010, 2011 and 2012 Alaska Airlines Governor's Cups were vacated due to the NCAA infractions. The Nanooks now hold a 16-8 advantage in the in-state rivalry.
Like Friday, Alaska Anchorage was the first team to strike first, as sophomore forward Jared Nash netted an even-strength tally at 1:19 of the second period. Alaska's defense got caught in scrum behind Nanooks goaltender Anton Martinsson before Nash was able to pick up the loose puck and score on a wraparound play. Nash's second goal of the season was assisted by Trey DeGraaf and Rylee St. Onge.
The Nooks tied things up less than three minutes later, as senior forward Tyler Cline tallied a power play goal to make it 1-1. Junior forward Steven Jandric set up shop below the face-off circle in the offensive zone before passing to linemate and senior forward Kylar Hope. Hope dished the puck to Cline, who was crashing backdoor.
At the 10:15 mark of the second period, S. Jandric entered the zone on a 1-on-4, dragging all the Alaska Anchorage players toward him along the half wall. Hope was able to sneak in the zone before S. Jandric rifled a pass across the slot and leaving him alone in front of UAA's goaltender Brandon Perrone. Hope's 10th goal of the season was assisted by S. Jandric and freshman defenseman Roberts Kalkis.
Kalkis kept the momentum going, netting his first collegiate goal at the 14:42 mark of the second period. Senior defenseman James LaDouce dished the puck across the blueline to Kalkis, who let a one-timer fly to make it 3-1 in favor of the Nooks.
The third period saw three more Alaska goals, as senior forward Logan Coomes (11:31) and sophomore forward Caleb Hite (19:33) and Kalkis earn his second of the night (14:17) to give the Nooks the go-ahead.
The Nanooks went 2-for-5 on the man-advantage, while UAA was held scoreless, going 0-for-3. Martinsson stood tall with 20 saves, while Perrone tallied 28 shots.
The Alaska Nanooks hockey team will host the fifth-seeded Bowling Green State University Falcons in a best-of-three series next Friday, Mar. 6 and Saturday, Mar. 7 at the Carlson Center, with Sunday, Mar. 8 serving as a tiebreaker game if necessary. Puck-drop Friday and Saturday is slated for 7:07 p.m. AKT.