March 17, 2005
With Six You Get Semifinals
UAF scores a half-dozen goals...again; MSU blanks UNO

By Mike Eidelbes

The CCHA playoffs have indeed been a super six for Alaska-Fairbanks.

The eighth-seeded Nanooks dusted no. 5 seed Bowling Green in a first round series last weekend by hanging a half-dozen goals on Hobey Baker Award finalist Jordan Sigalet on back-to-back nights.

Alaska-Fairbanks 6,
Northern Michigan 3
Team Goal Str
Time Assists

First Period

1-AF Ryan McLeod (13) PP
7:26 J. Grinevitch, W. Rogers
1-NM Rob Lehtinen (4) EV
10:18 K. Gardner, J. Milam
2-NM Tim Hartung (4) PP
12:21 N. Oystrick, D. Olver
2-AF Ryan McLeod (14) PP
18:17 J. Sylvestre, J. Grinevitch
Second Period
3-AF Aaron Lee (9) EV
2:18 C. Fraser, W. Rogers
4-AF Jason Grinevitch (6) PP
11:54 R. McLeod, K. Greentree
3-NM Nathan Oystrick (7) PP
19:04 M. Santorelli, A. Contois
Third Period
5-AF Nathan Fornataro (3) SH
8:36 T. Newton, D. Campbell
6-AF Kyle Greentree (12) EN
19:58 R. Muspratt, D. Campbell
AF: Wylie Rogers, 59:57, 25 saves, 3 GA
NM: Tuomas Tarkki, 58:55, 24 saves, 5 GA (1 ENG)
Penalties: AF 6/12; NM 7/14
Power Plays: AF 3-7; NM 2-6
Attendance: N/A

At Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Thursday, UAF rolled a boxcar against another Hobey hopeful – Northern Michigan goaltender Tuomas Tarkki – as the surging Nanooks bounced the third-seeded Wildcats, 6-3. Alaska-Fairbanks (16-15-4 overall) advances to tomorrow’s first semifinal match to face top-seed Michigan.

“Over the last three or four weeks, this team has started to take more ownership,” UAF first-year coach Tavis MacMillan said of his team, which is 5-1-1 in its last seven games. “Guys are buying in. It's great to see. Right now they're driving the train, the players are. They're holding themselves accountable.”

Freshman forward Ryan McLeod, who scored twice in the first 13 seconds of the first period in Friday’s series opener against Bowling Green, netted a pair of goals in the first 20 minutes tonight. The first, a power play tally, gave UAF a 1-0 lead 7:26 into the game. The second, which came 1:43 prior to intermission with the man advantage, evened the score after NMU got goals from Rob Lehtinen and Tim Hartung midway through the period.

“We've been kind of getting the bounces going our way,” McLeod said. “We tried to go upstairs as much as we could tonight and that worked out really well for us.”

UAF would regain the lead on an Aaron Lee goal two minutes into the second period and extend their advantage on Jason Grinevitch’s power play marker roughly 10 minutes later. The Wildcats got a boost, however, when Nathan Oystrick scored with 56 seconds left in the period to cut the Nanooks’ edge to 4-3.

Special teams, which were Northern Michigan’s bane the entire night, proved fatal in the third period when UAF’s Nathan Fornataro scored a shorthanded goal with 11:24 left in regulation.

“Special teams killed us tonight,” Oystrick said. “I've got to give them credit. They played a heck of a game.”

The win was the first for Alaska-Fairbanks at Joe Louis Arena, and while the Nanooks are proud of making their deepest advance in the CCHA playoffs in the program’s history, they’re not satisfied with just one win.

"Our kids understand that there is still more,” MacMillan said. “We came with one goal in mind and that was to compete and vie for the CCHA championship.”


Michigan State won its sixth straight game, downing Nebraksa-Omaha by a 5-0 score at Joe Louis Arena in Thursday's second quarterfinal match.

The sixth-seeded Spartans, who advance to the playoff semifinals for the first time in Rick Comley's tenure in East Lansing, will take on Ohio State Friday. The winner of that game meets the Alaska-Fairbanks-Michigan winner in Saturday's championship game.

Michigan State 5,
Nebraska-Omaha 0
Team Goal Str
Time Assists

First Period

1-MS Colton Fretter (20) PP
3:28 D. Miller, J. Slater
2-MS Jim McKenzie (11) PP
10:31 J. Slater, D. Miller
Second Period
3-MS Tom Goebel (5) EV
6:17 J. Slater, C. Potter
4-MS Daniel Vukovic (1) EV
11:12 D. Miller, T. Goebel
Third Period
5-MS Chris Mueller (2) EN
18:42 C. Potter, T. Goebel
MS: Dominic Vicari, 60:00, 33 saves, 0 GA
NO: Chris Holt, 58:59, 37 saves, 4 GA (1 ENG)
Penalties: MS 7/14; NO 10/28
Power Plays: MS 2-7; NO 0-6
Attendance: 3,436

"As long as we win, by one or by four, it doesn't really matter," senior captain Jim Slater said, "as long as we get it done."

MSU took a two-goal lead after one period thanks to offensive elements that have become quite familiar to Spartan fans in recent weeks – the power play, and the goal-scoring prowess of the forward foursome of Colton Fretter, Jim McKenzie, Drew Miller and Slater.
Fretter recorded his team-high 20th goal of the season 3:28 into the game. McKenzie would score his man-advantage goal a little more than seven minutes later.

A trio of infrequent goal scorers picked up the last three MSU markers. Tom Goebel gave the Spartans a three-goal advantage when he scored for the fifth time this season 6:17 into the second period. Less than five minutes later, freshman Daniel Vukovic notched his first career goal to make the score 4-0. Another freshman, Chris Mueller, scored an empty-net goal for the Spartans late in the third period.

Though Slater and Miller didn't score, they each contributed three assists. Goebel had a pair of assists to go along with his goal, and defenseman Corey Potter also had two assists.

"Our hats are off to Michigan State," UNO coach Mike Kemp said. "They took control of the game early on. I thought they asserted themselves very well and took advantage of every opportunity that we gave them."


Alaska-Fairbanks draws Michigan in Friday's first semifinal. The significance of the game beyond determining which team advances to Saturday's championship game is minimal – win or lose, the Wolverines are likely locked into a no. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The second semifinal match between Michigan State and Ohio State, on the other hand, is thick with importance. With both teams battling for their NCAA lives, the winner here may not cement their status in the national tournament, but it'll certainly put them on more solid footing.

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