FAIRBANKS – It happened as quickly as the rush that put this former boomtown on the map. But the nuggets the Michigan hockey team secured came in the form of goals, not gold.

It took just two minutes and nine seconds for No. 13 Michigan to turn a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 lead for an eventual 5-2 victory over Alaska. The win secured Michigan’s first sweep at the Carlson Center in its past three visits.

Just like the turn-of-the-century prospectors who came to Fairbanks, the Wolverines didn’t find their treasure in likely places. In fact, the second power-play unit struck first. Unlikely for a group whose usual task is to fill the time until the star-studded top line can get back on the ice.

But when sophomore Brandon Naurato’s slapshot rebounded off Alaska goalie Chad Johnson’s pads, Tim Miller had an opportunity to be more than just a time killer.

Miller’s swing hit the puck off a Nanook defenseman’s stick, sending the disk in a high arc over Johnson’s head and into the net. With the score 2-1, something was building.

“You have to pay the price, to go to the net to get goals,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “That was, I thought, the difference this weekend: We were going to the net.”

With the first success, more Wolverines flooded to the Nanook goal.

Just 30 seconds later, senior David Rohlfs took a cross-ice pass from junior Kevin Porter and deposited the puck through Johnson’s five-hole. After 3-1, the rush was on.

The fourth goal didn’t come as quickly, but it assured Michigan’s riches.

Miller and Naurato teamed up again one minute and 39 seconds later, this time in reverse order. Miller fed a puck from behind the net to a wide-open Naurato, who easily beat Johnson. At 4-1, and the Wolverines were raking it in.

All three goals came with Michigan’s point leader T.J. Hensick on the bench with a lower-body injury.

Early on, Michigan’s prospects for success weren’t as promising.

Unlike Friday, when Michigan killed off an early five-on-three disadvantage and scored quickly thereafter en route to a 6-2 win, the Nanooks took the upper hand Saturday.

Forward Curtis Fraser’s five-on-three goal put Alaska (5-10-3 CCHA, 7-13-4 overall) up 1-0, just over halfway through the first period.

Just as they had during the previous Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Northern Michigan, the Wolverines struggled to move the puck through the neutral zone and when the rare offensive chance developed, the puck never found the net. It began as the same, sorry Wolverine Saturday, just four time zones away.

“We got fed up with being a .500 team, winning a game and then losing the next night, or vice versa,” senior defenseman Jason Dest said. “That’s not the way Michigan hockey is supposed to be.”

Michigan (12-6-0, 17-9-0) turned its frustration into energy, and kept digging for goals.

With a little luck, the Wolverines found one.

From just inside the Alaska blue line, Naurato directed a pass toward the net, as sophomore Andrew Cogliano drove hard to the far post.

“I didn’t think (the pass) was going to get through,” said Cogliano, who has a point in eight straight games, with goals in seven. “I threw my stick out there, and (Naurato) made an exceptional pass. It just kind of got on my stick, and I just put it in the open net.”

The goal came with fewer than four minutes to go in the second period, and allowed Michigan to retain some confidence going into the third period. After the game, both players and coaches doubted if the team could’ve come back without the Cogliano goal.

Easily forgotten in the offensive explosions was Billy Sauer’s fifth straight solid game. The sophomore goalie stopped 32 of 34 shots he faced. The performance was all the more impressive coming on Olympic ice, a larger-than-normal surface that previously befuddled Sauer.

“(Winning twice) made me feel really confident, especially with the Olympic ice,” Sauer said.

Michigan worked hard for its treasured sweep, and the Wolverines are hopeful their newly earned capital can carry them through the remainder of the season.

“We know if we win a lot of games, we’ll have a good chance of being in the top three in the league,” Cogliano said. “So this was definitely a good start that we needed to get the ball rolling.”

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