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ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Northeastern tied Alaska Fairbanks, 2-2, to open the season on Friday night at the Kendall Hockey Classic at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska. The Huskies got goals from senior Dennis McCauley and freshman Steve Quailer as well as 29 saves from goalie Brad Thiessen. Although the game counts as a tie, the Nanooks won a shootout, which counts for the tournament standings.
Northeastern scored the first goal of the game at 1:52 in the second period. Kyle Kraemer made a great play keeping the puck in the Alaska zone, he cycled down low to Ryan Ginand who was able to stick handle around a Nanook defender before dishing a pass to McCauley. McCauley fired a one-timer past Alaska goalie Chad Johnson.
The Huskies kept the pressure on throughout the second period as they tallied seven quality shots while Alaska managed five. Chris Donovan played very well on the penalty kill, causing several Nanook turnovers.
The third period would be the most exciting in the game. Alaska managed to net its first goal on a controversial play. Alaska's Dion Knelsen fed a pass to his brother Brandon Knelsen, who was charging in and being dragged down by Northeastern defenseman Louis Liotti. The referees had to use video replay to determine that Knelsen got his stick on the puck rather than his skate.
The Huskies answered back when Tyler McNeely dropped a pass to Steve Silva, who curled around the top of the circle and then fed Quailer in the slot. Quailer was able to bang it home for his first collegiate goal.
The Nanooks were able to get the tying goal at 17:31 in the third, once again from the work of the Knelsen brothers. Dion again fed Brandon, who put one past Thiessen. Similar to the first goal, replay was need to check the goal. The game went into overtime tied 2-2.
Overtime was even with UAF getting four shots to the Huskies' two. The game ended officially in a tie but went into a shootout for tournament purposes.
The first period was filled with up-and-down action but remained scoreless. Both teams had their share of opportunities as both the Huskies and the Nanooks each had two power plays. Northeasternís man advantage looked strong as defenseman Mike Hewkin fired shots at Johnson whenever he got the puck. Also impressive on the power play were Silva and Quailer. At 11:45 in the first, Silva found himself in the slot all alone as both Fairbanks defenders raced toward him expecting a shot. However, Silva wisely dished a pass to Quailer who was waiting all alone at the top of the crease but his shot went just wide. Alaska had chances as well, with its best coming at 7:54 when a Nanook forward blocked a Dan Nycholat shot which turned into a two-on-one. Alaska's Braden Walls shot the puck wide.
Alaska won the shootout on a Dion Knelsen goal. Up first in the shootout was NU's Wade MacLeod, but he was denied with Johnson flashed the leather. Alaska's Adam Naglich was up second and was shut down by Thiessen on a pad save. Quailer took Northeastern's second shot but was stuffed on a deek move. Dion Knelsen managed to beat Thiessen on Alaska's second chance by putting a wrist shot above Thiessen, who was attempting a poke check. Senior Joe Vitale was NU's last chance but his shot rang off the post.
The Huskies continue on Saturday when they take on Alaska Anchorage at 11 p.m. (Eastern) in the second round of the Kendall Hockey Classic. The game will be broadcast live on WRBB Radio, 104.9 FM.