Chargers end skid with 4-1 win over Nanooks

Jordan Uhelski made 30 saves and the Chargers ended two months of frustration with a 4-1 win over Alaska in Fairbanks on Saturday night.

UAH (8-19-3 overall, 8-13-3 WCHA) won for the first time since Dec. 10, ending a seven-game WCHA winless streak and nine-game winless streak overall.


With four games to go, the Chargers stay in eighth place, the last playoff spot, in the WCHA standings. UAH is two points up on Northern Michigan and two behind idle Ferris State and Lake Superior State for sixth. Alaska (9-16-3 overall, 8-11-3 WCHA) is in fifth place.

UAH won in Fairbanks for the first time since Dec. 1991. The Chargers were 0-5 against the Nanooks in Fairbanks since joining the WCHA in 2013.

After being stymied all game Friday, the Chargers didn’t take long to get on the board. Just 1:12 in, off a rebound from a Connor James shot, Brennan Saulnier beat Alaska goaltender Davis Jones from the slot to give UAH a 1-0 lead.

Saulnier notched his fourth goal of the season and second in his last three games. For James, it was his first collegiate assist and point.

Then UAH finally got something going on a power play. With 4:09 left in the first, Josh Kestner one-timed a Cam Knight blast from the left circle and the Chargers led 2-0.

It was Kestner’s ninth goal of the season, tying him for the club lead with Kurt Gosselin, who did not play after suffering a concussion and a sore neck on Friday. Knight got his team-leading 14th assist, and James got his second helper of the game.

Alaska fought right back with a power play goal of their own after Cody Marooney’s trip of Zach Frye. Chad Staley, who had a goal and an assist in Friday’s game, cut UAH’s lead to 2-1 with 3:18 left in the first.

UAH got a shorthanded goal with 5:22 left in the second period to extend its lead to 3-1. During a rare penalty on Max McHugh, Matt Salhany broke away and beat Jones for his sixth goal of the season.

On the other hand, Charger goalie Uhelski was making strong saves with his glove and body — and getting a little help from the crossbar when he went one-on-one with the Nanooks’ Josh Erickson.

Alaska had opportunities to get back into it after back-to-back penalties by Saulnier and James in the middle of the third period, but UAH played solid defense to kill those penalties. Then the Nanooks relied on Jones to make big saves on breakaway chances by Hans Gorowsky and Max McHugh to keep it a two-goal game.

Jones was pulled for an extra attacker with 3:08 remaining. Sean Rappleyea then sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 2:09 to go, his first collegiate goal.

Alaska outshot UAH 31-24 in the contest. UAH was 1-for-4 on the power play, and Alaska was 1-for-5.

Next up for the Chargers is their final home series of the season. UAH hosts WCHA leader and rival Bemidji State on Feb. 10 and 11 at the Von Braun Center.