FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- Chad Gehon's go-ahead goal 3:02 into the third period stood as the winner as Alaska edged North Dakota 2-1 in the championship game of the Brice Alaska Goal Rush tonight.
Second-ranked North Dakota was bidding to become the first non-Alaskan school to capture the tournament. But the Nanooks were equal to the task in an intense, gritty game that resembled a playoff tilt.
After a lengthy feeling out process in the opening period, UND finally opened the scoring with 2:11 left in the frame. Freshman Colten St. Clair (Gilbert, Ariz.) corraled a bounced pack down low, walked around an Alaska defenseman and beat goalie Steve Thompson to the far side for his first career goal.
Thompson, however, slammed the door the rest of the way en route to being named the tournament MVP with 25 saves.
His UND counterpart, Clarke Saunders, was every bit as good and landed on the all-tournament team. Saunders was beaten just twice on 34 shots and had very little chance on either goal.
On Gehon's winner, Saunders stopped a Grade A chance in the slot, but the puck made its way to Gehon on the doorstep, and he beat Saunders from close range for his first of the season and the eventual game-winner. The goal was Alaska's payoff after applying heavy pressure in the UND zone in the opening minutes of the third period.
The othe Alaska goal came on the power play in the opening minute of the second period. Tyler Morley centered the puck to defenseman Josh Atkinson, who crept in from the point and blasted a shot past Saunders from the high slot.
After Gehon's go-ahead goal early in the third, UND pressed for the equalizer but was unable to generate any sustained offense. The best chance to tie the game may have been on the stick of senior Corban Knight with less than 10 minutes remaining. After failing to connect with Carter Rowney on a give-and-go, Knight retrieved the puck while beside the net and had goalie Thompson out of position. Has night brought the puck from behind the net on his backhand to his forehand, an Alaska defenseman managed to get his stick on Knight's blade in front of the goal line, and the puck slid harmlessly into the equipment of a sprawling Thompson.
UND also had six power play chances, including two in the third period, but could not convert.
Sophomore forward Mark MacMillan and freshman defenseman Jordan Schmaltz joined Saunders on the all-tournament team.
UND, now 1-1-0, will open WCHA play at home next weekend against Alaska Anchorage.