Nanooks fall to Falcons in shootout

By Laura Stickells | February 16, 2020

For the second night in a row, Bowling Green State coughed up an early lead to the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the teams couldn’t determine a winner after 60 minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime.

However, unlike Friday’s game, which was decided 45 seconds into 3-on-3 play with a goal from Alaska’s Kylar Hope, Saturday’s game was decided by Bowling Green’s Brandon Kruse in the fourth round of a shootout after a 3-3 tie.

Kruse, a left handed junior, forced Alaska goaltender Anton Martinson deep into the crease and pushed the puck through his legs to grab the extra point for the Falcons.

Alaska (12-9-5-2 WCHA) and Bowling Green (10-10-4-3 WCHA) are among the Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams battling for home ice for the first round of the conference’s eight-team post season tournament. The top four WCHA teams at the end of the regular season earn the advantage.

The Nanooks are currently in fourth place with 43 points and maintained their six-points lead over the Falcons during the series, but the Falcons still have four games left in their conference schedule compared to the Nanooks’ two, giving them two additional opportunities remaining to clinch home ice.

Tyler Cline skates with the puck in the third period of the game between University of Alaska Fairbanks and Bowling Green State on Friday at the Carlson Center. Photo by Laura Stickells.

The Falcons held a two-goal lead after 10 minutes. Bowling Green’s Alex Barber tipped the puck in from the crease past Alaska’s starting goalie, sophomore Gustavs Grigals 4:24 into the game.

Five minutes later, Freddy Letourneau skated down the right side of the slot and passed the puck to Casey Linkenheld, who scored from the crease.

The early two-goal deficit, although reminiscent of Friday’s game which ended in a tie, was enough for UAF head coach Erik Largen to pull Grigals and send senior Anton Martinson to the net.

The two goaltenders had similar save percentages prior to the series with Martinson saving 91% of shots and Grigals saving 90.0%.

Grigals left the ice 9:58 into the first period with three saves. The sophomore from Riga, Latvia made 30 saves in the net for the Nanooks on Friday when they rallied from a two goal deficit to tie the Falcons and secure the extra point in double overtime.

T.J. Lloyd added on for the Falcons 9:10 into the second period when his shot near the top of the right faceoff circle went five hole past Martinson.

The Nanooks fourth line sparked the rally with 6:37 remaining in the middle frame.

Alaska left wing Caleb Hite snatched the puck with his glove before dropping it and taking a shot just outside the crease. Hite’s attempt was deflected, but Didrik Henbrant found the net on the rebound. Colin Doyle got the secondary assist.

The goal was the second of the season for Henbrant.

Alaska fought back to a one-goal deficit 5:23 into the final period with a power play goal. Nanooks captain Kylar Hope scored with the help of Chris Jandric and a goalie assist by Martinson. The assist was Martinson’s first of the season.

The Nanooks power play went 1-for-3 on Saturday. Although Alaska’s power play ranks among the worst in the nation with a 14.8% success rate, it has scored at least one goal in its past five games.

Steven Jandric tied the game for the Nanooks with 7:30 remaining in regulation. Jandric picked up the puck at the top of the right faceoff circle and skated to the hash where he ripped a wrist shot through Bowling Green goalie Eric Dop’s five-hole.

Martinson was unbeatable in the net overtime, making four clutch saves for the Nanooks including one shot he stopped with his outstretched glove with 40 seconds remaining in 3-on-3 play.

Dop was just as good for the Falcons, making five stops in the extra frames.

The Nanooks wrap up the regular season Feb. 28 and 29 at the Carlson Center with the second half of the Governor’s Cup, the annual best-of-four-game series between UAF and the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The Nanooks and Seawolves split their two games in Anchorage in October.

The puck drops on Friday and Saturday at 7:07 p.m.