FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Lake Superior State hockey defeated Alaska 4-1 in the first game of a two-game Western Collegiate Hockey Association series on Friday night at Carlson Center.
Lake Superior State (8-6-1, 5-5-1-0 WCHA) used strong special teams to take a 2-1 lead over Alaska (4-11-2, 4-6-1-1 WCHA) in the first period. After Alaska's Kyle Marino scored the first goal of the game at the 4:52 mark, senior center Diego Cuglietta scored a power-play goal and a short-handed goal to put the Lakers up 2-1.
Cuglietta's power-play goal, which tied the game at 1-1, was scored at 9:40 of the first period. The Nanooks' goaltender, Gustavs Grigals (4-3-0), stopped an initial shot taken from near the right point, but the rebound bounced out in front of the net where Cuglietta was able to get to the loose puck and score. Junior defenseman Collin Saccoman, the reigning WCHA Defenseman of the Month, and senior winger Anthony Nellis assisted on the play.
Then, after a Laker penalty, Cuglietta got behind the Nanook defense and went 1-on-1 with Grigals. Cuglietta fired a wrist shot and it looked like Grigals was going to make the save, but he was unable to squeeze the puck between his arm and body, and the puck went behind him into the net for the short-handed goal at the 12:22 mark. Cuglietta's ninth goal of the season — unassisted — put the Lakers up 2-1.
Neither team scored in the second period, but the Lakers held a 15-3 edge in shots on goal in the period as they limited the Nanook's scoring opportunities and held the 2-1 lead going into the second intermission.
In the third period, the Lakers scored twice to make the final score 4-1. Saccoman increased the Laker lead to 3-1 at the 9:34 mark. After entering the zone, junior forward Brayden Gelsinger passed the puck from the right boards to Saccoman in the high slot, who one timed a shot past Grigals for his seventh goal of the season. Gelsinger and senior winger Gage Torrel assisted on the play. Then, after a Laker penalty late in the game, the Nanooks pulled Grigals for an extra skater, which set up a short-handed empty-net goal by Nellis, who fired the puck from his defensive zone all the way down into the unguarded net. Nellis' goal was his ninth of the season.
Senior goaltender Nick Kossoff (6-2-1) made 22 saves in the win, while Grigals made 27 stops.
The Lakers held a 31-23 edge in shots on goal.
Lake Superior State went 1-of-3 on the power play and also scored two short-handed goals. Alaska was 0-of-5 with the man advantage.
Lake State and Alaska conclude their two-game WCHA series at 11:07 p.m. EST on Saturday at Carlson Center.
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