Nanook Hockey Snaps Eleven Game Losing Streak

UAF halfway through RPI series
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 8:21 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Heading into their fourteenth game of the season, the Alaska Nanooks men’s hockey team had lost the previous eleven games, and their last win dated back to October 9th. The Alaska Nanooks in the middle of hosting four games against the RPI Engineers. RPI won game one of four with a final score of 4-1.

Saturday night was a different story though. The first goal of the game came short-handed for UAF, off the tape of Filip Fornaa Svennson for his team leading third goal of the season. This was the second goal that the Nanooks have scored while on the penalty kill this season. The remainder of the period would end without another goal. Alaska entered the first intermission with a one goal lead. This marked the second time this season that UAF had ended the first period with a lead.

In the second period, the Nanooks were faced with another penalty kill after Harrison Israels was nabbed for a delay of game minor. Just as penalty time expired, Simon Falk walked in all alone against RPI goaltender, Linden Marshall, and beat the Engineer netminder with the a nice backhanded shot. Falk’s goal was the first of the Freshman’s collegiate career, and the Nooks would hold the 2-0 lead through the second intermission.

Twenty minutes away from snapping their eleven game losing skid, UAF would add another goal to their lead. This time, it was the defenseman and alternate captain, Jordan Muzzillo, that jumped in on the scoring party. The first of the Junior’s career.

Anton Rubtsov took a wrist shot from the high slot, and with a little added “puck luck.” As the puck was headed for the net, it caromed off of two pairs of RPI’s skates. Linden Marshall, dove out on his stomach trying to cover the puck, but Muzzillo was the one that was able to get control of the puck, leaving Marshall no chance to stop Muzzillo.

“It’s nice to finally get the first one past me,” Muzzillo commented after scoring his first NCAA goal. “It’s a team game, and I was just excited to contribute to the team win, and we’re looking forward to Tuesday and Wednesday to get back at it,” Muzzillo said.

Ten minutes later, Didrik Henbrant would secure the victory with an empty net goal. The Nanooks were able to score in every period, and it was the first game of this season that UAF has scored three or more goals. In addition to many “firsts” of the night, goaltender Gustavs Grigals recorded his first shutout of the season, and the third of his career.

“It’s a great feeling. My team blocked a lot of shots, so that helped me a lot,” Grigals said following his twenty seven save performance. “I just tried to help as much as I could. Last night wasn’t that great, and I knew I had to take my game to another level,” added Grigals.

Coach Erik Largen and his staff changed almost every aspect of the Saturday night lineup compared to the night before. Only five of the nineteen skaters for the Nanooks played on the same line and the same position than they did the night prior (if they were in the lineup Friday). Largen also inserted five players from Friday’s scratched list into the lineup for Saturday.

“I thought it (Friday’s 4-1 loss) was one of our worst efforts of the season, and it was nice to see the guys bounce back from it,” said Coach Largen. “They deserved that one. They’ve had a lot of close calls, and had probably deserved better fates. It was nice to see them get this one tonight and see some guys get their first goals.”

The Nanooks overall record improves 2-12-0 on the season, but this was certainly the boost this team so desperately needed. The Nooks will be back in action against RPI tomorrow and Wednesday night at the Carlson Center. Puck drop for both games against RPI is set for 7:07 P.M.

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