University of Alaska freshman center Brady Risk scored 36 goals in 54 games for the Drumheller Dragons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League during the 2019-20 season.
That goal-scoring touch has followed him into college hockey as he notched his first career hat trick on Friday night to lead the opportunistic Nanooks to an impressive 6-2 thumping of the University of Maine in front of a small crowd at Alfond Arena Friday night.
Risk now has a team-high eight goals for the Nanooks, who are 5-13-1 and hadn’t scored more than four goals in a game this season.
Risk said getting his first career hat trick “feels really good” but he’s just happy to get the win.
“It has been tough sledding for us in terms of wins but the team is coming together at the right time,” he said.
UMaine, playing its first game since Dec. 11, 2021, fell to 2-12-4.
The teams will conclude their series on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.
Gustavs Grigals, the Nanooks captain, turned in a solid 38-save performance in net for Alaska.
Matt Thiessen made 10 saves on 15 shots for UMaine before being replaced by Connor Androlewicz, who finished with 11 saves on 12 shots.
Risk opened the scoring at the 11:04 mark of the first period before Adam Dawe equalized on the power play with 59 seconds remaining in the period.
But Risk broke the game open with a pair of goals in the first 2:50 of the second period.
Payton Matsui extended the lead at the 4:31 mark of the period and Filip Fornaa Svensson made it 5-1 with 5:36 left in the period, ending the evening for junior goalie Thiessen.
Simon Falk extended the lead in the third period off breakaway before UMaine’s Edward Lindelow capped the scoring.
Thiessen had a tough night and remained winless in his career as he is now 0-11-4.
He was replaced by sophomore Androlewicz, who saw his first action in a Black Bear uniform.
UMaine head coach Ben Barr called his team’s performance “brutal” all the way around.
“We got what we deserved. There is no excuse for playing that poorly. They outworked us big time. That’s on me and that’s on us,” Barr said.
Risk began the scoring by finding space on the inner half of the right circle and one-timing a Caleb Hite pass the corner past the blocker of Thiessen far side.
Dawe tied it following a one-handed keep-in by Tristan Poissant. Dawe had his first shot blocked but the puck came back to him and his follow-up wrister eventually squeezed past Grigals.
Risk, who is from Medicine Hat, Alberta, put the Nanooks ahead to stay just 24 seconds into the middle period.
Garrett Pyke took a wrister from the outer half of the left circle and Risk got his stick on the shot and it trickled through the pads of Thiessen.
“Pyke made a good play and I just presented my stick,” said Risk.
He completed his hat trick 2:26 later when he was set up nicely by Didrik Henbrant.
UMaine defenseman Adrien Bisson fell down so Henbrant had time to slide the puck across to the open Risk, whose one-timer beat Thiessen glove-side.
“It was a great play by [Henbrant]. I just tried to get the shot off as quickly as I could,” Risk said.
Matsui made it 4-1 after Hite cleverly one-touched a long backhand pass out of the defensive zone to Matt Koethe, which created a two-on-one.
Koethe quickly snapped a pass to Matsui, who broke down the left wing unattended and wristed the puck past Thiessen’s glove.
Svensson scored with a turnaround shot from the middle of the slot.
“The guys played well,” Alaska coach Erik Largen said. “It helped a little bit that they had a longer layoff than we did. We got some lucky bounces. It was nice to see [Risk] finish and [Grigals] played a great game.”