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Nanooks hockey win five straight following sweep of Tommies

First time since 2014-15 season
Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 7:27 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Nanooks men’s hockey team welcomed the newest team in D-I college hockey, the St. Thomas Tommies (Saint Paul, MN), to the Carlson Center for a weekend series. This was the first series at home for the Alaska Nanooks in the 2022 calendar year. UAF returned to Alaska with their first sweep of the season, taking two from Arizona State while they were in Tempe.

Friday night, the Nanooks would score a trio of goals in both the first and second period. Anton Rubtsov opened the scoring and had the third and fifth UAF goals. The freshman from Saint Petersburg, Russia notches his first collegiate hat trick. Rubtsov is now tied with a team-leading nine goals (tied with Brady Risk an Didrik Henbrant). To make it more impressive, eight of those nine goals have come since the turn of the calendar.

“I think it’s all just a result of executing details,” said Rubtsov after being asked about what has been going right for him following the holiday break. “It’s about playing the right way, and it starts in practice too. It was one of those nights where everything goes, and you just have to put the puck in the back of the net.”

Chase Dubois, Harrison Israels, and Arvils Bergmanis were the other Nanooks scorers. Dubois and Israels each scoring on the powerplay, and Bergmanis’s goal was a result of perfect timing. Bergmanis was in the penalty box for an indirect conduct to the head minor, and as the man advantage for the Tommies expired, Bergmanis hopped out of the box, and was in, all alone for the breakaway.

Gustavs Grigals carried a shutout into the third period, but Ethan Gauer capitalized on Didrik Henbrant’s tripping minor to put one on the board and end the hopes of another Grigals shutout. The Nanooks went to the box nine times in Friday night’s game, and that was something head coach, Erik Largen was not happy about.

“Yeah, I think we took a lot of dumb penalties,” said Largen. “We have to be a lot more disciplined. If that’s a tighter game, and we get shorthanded, I feel that gives them a ton of momentum. Thankfully, the game was out of reach when we got really dumb with some of those penalties, and they couldn’t get back into the game.”

Saturday night, the Nanooks took the ice in hopes of securing that back-to-back weekend sweep. For the first time all weekend, the Nanooks were behind in scoring after a Matthew Jennings, powerplay goal with 3:09 left in the first period. The Nanooks went into intermission down one, but clearly came ready to play in the next twenty minutes.

Eriks Zohovs tied the game, 1-1, for his first NCAA goal. Anton Rubtsov followed, four minutes later with his fourth goal of the weekend and his fifth consecutive game with a goal. Payton Matsui made it 3-1, and the Nanooks weren’t done there either. With less than three minutes left in the second period, Didrik Henbrant and Matt Koethe combine for a pair of goals in forty six seconds.

Each team would score two more goals in the remainder of the game. Luke Manning and Kimball Johnson the goal scorers for the Tommies, and Didrik Henbrant and Eriks Zohovs each get their second of the game. The Nanooks would finish off the Tommies in dominating fashion, 7-3. With the sweep, the win-streak extends to five games for the Nanooks. This is the first five-game streak since 2014-15 and the first for Erik Largen as head coach.

“Yeah, I mean the result was good. I just... you know the first twenty minutes was a little bit disappointing. We had talked a lot about it actually, yesterday,” said Largen analyzing Saturday’s game. “Talking about discipline, we go out and we take a minor penalty and then a five minute major, and they capitalized. I think we wrote a pretty good script for them for twenty minutes. I’m hoping that we learn the lesson through a win, and we need to do a better job of staying out of the box. I thought we just gave them too much life, but give credit to the guys for the bouncing back and twenty minutes of really good hockey in the second.”

Comparing Friday’s penalties to Saturday, the Nanooks didn’t do much better, if at all. Friday night, UAF went to the box nine times, totaling eighteen penalty minutes and allowed one powerplay goal. Saturday, UAF committed seven infractions, but they included a five-minute major interference and a ten-minute game misconduct. The Tommies also scored twice on the powerplay, Saturday (three of four Tommie goals were scored on the powerplay on the weekend).

Regardless, the Nanooks outscored St. Thomas, thirteen to four, and improve to 11-16-1 on the year. UAF will be back on the road this weekend and leave tomorrow. Brooklyn, New York the destination. The Nanooks will meet the Long Island University Sharks (8-16-3) for their first series ever. Friday’s game will start at 11:00 A.M., and Saturday’s puck will drop at 10:00 A.M. (both AKST) at Northwell Health Ice Center.

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