In the end, you thank Carmine Guerriero for even making the situation possible. But in the end, it’s still a painful loss for the Chargers.
Tyler Munson’s goal with 3:37 left in overtime gave Alaska a 2-1 win over the Chargers on Friday night at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks.
Alaska outshot UAH by a 46-17 margin. Guerriero stopped 44 of those shots, but couldn’t make a 45th as Munson, finding the puck all alone and crossing in front of Guerriero, was able to tuck it past him and he couldn’t poke it away.
Last season, the Nanooks won both games in Fairbanks against the Chargers by 6-1 scores, with similar advantages in shots on goal. This time, Guerriero was the difference, making all the critical saves — including two on an Alaska two-on-none break late — to keep UAH within sight of a fourth win of the season.
Alaska fired away early and often, putting 11 shots on goal to the Chargers’ three. Guerriero’s biggest save came with about six minutes left in the period, when the puck was all alone in the slot and Guerriero out of position. The ever-scary Tyler Morley, who was tied for third in the WCHA with 16 points coming into the night, pounced with a one-timer, but Guerriero got back to keep the game scoreless.
UAH’s best chance of the first came on a steal by Brennan Saulnier in the Alaska zone, but he was denied by defenseman Josh Atkinson backing up goaltender Davis Jones.
Alaska’s possession dominance continued into the second, as the Nanooks peppered Guerriero with the first seven shots on goal in the frame.
But it was actually the Chargers who struck first. Cody Champagne’s drive from just inside the blue line found Chad Brears in front of the Nanook net, then Max McHugh, who redirected it past Jones to give UAH a 1-0 lead with 10:52 left in the second. It was McHugh’s fourth goal of the season.
It would be UAH’s only shot on goal of the second for a while, and Alaska eventually found a way to find the net. Alec Hajdukovic, on a rush on the right side, beat Guerriero on a shot high and glove side to tie the game at 1-1 with 8:07 left in the second. Nolan Kaiser and Trevor Campbell got the assists.
Matt Salhany had a chance with a shorthanded break and Regan Soquila had a left wing drive, but Jones prevented the Chargers from retaking the lead.
So after two periods, Alaska had a 25-8 shots on goal advantage, but it was a tie game.
Even though Alaska would outshoot UAH 17-9 in the third, it seemed like a more balanced period.
With just under five minutes remaining in regulation, Cody Marooney failed to beat Jones on a 2-on-1 with Matt Salhany — the best chance the Chargers have to steal the victory.
Then came the two-on-none Alaska breakaway. Guerriero stopped Brandon Morley’s first shot, then robbed Marcus Basara on the rebound with 3:23 left in regulation.
The Chargers and Nanooks face off again Saturday at 10 p.m. Central Time/7 p.m. Alaska.
Notes: Guerriero has made 30 or more saves for the ninth time in 11 starts. … The Chargers have lost seven straight in the all time series with Alaska. … UAH’s last overtime loss was Feb. 3, 2012, a 4-3 decision at Maine.