The Seawolves scored the game's opening goal for the first time this season, stayed out of the penalty box to negate Minnesota-Duluth's potent power play and substantially stifled the Bulldogs' usual shooting barrage.
In short, UAA did everything right -- except win.
Freshman J.T. Brown scored 31 seconds into overtime Friday night to lift nationally ranked Minnesota-Duluth to a 3-2 victory in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association opener for both teams.
Brown's goal from the right circle, off a pass from Travis Oleksuk, marked the only time the Seawolves trailed all night before an announced crowd of 5,076 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center on the shores of Lake Superior.
The Bulldogs (4-0-1, 1-0-0 WCHA) entered the evening with an offense averaging more than five goals per game, more than 38 shots on goal per game and a power-play efficiency of nearly 24 percent. They are ranked No. 5 in one national poll, No. 6 in another.
But the Seawolves (1-3-1, 0-0-1 WCHA) used their superior size to neutralize the Bulldogs on the league's smallest rink -- the ice surface at the DECC measures 190 feet long by 85 feet wide, 15 feet shorter than an NHL size sheet. (Tonight's rematch marks the Seawolves' last game at the DECC; Amsoil Arena, the new rink next door with a sheet of 200 x 85, opens Dec. 30).
UAA also afforded UMD two power plays, both of which were fruitless. The Seawolves enjoyed three man advantages, including one in the final minutes of regulation, but likewise came up with a power-play bagel.
Seawolves senior winger Tommy Grant cracked Bulldogs goaltender Kenny Reiter (22 saves), the younger brother of former UAA backstop Kevin Reiter, on an early breakaway that finished an all-senior goal. Grant took a pass from senior wing Sean Wiles, who got the puck from senior defenseman Luka Vidmar, and beat Reiter between the pads for a 1-0 lead 3:26 into the game.
The Bulldogs answered in the second period, when Mike Connolly sandwiched a pair of goals around the first career goal of UAA defenseman Wes McLeod to send the teams into the second break tied 2-2.
UAA freshman goalie Rob Gunderson stopped 22 shots.
All five of the Seawolves games have either been decided by one goal or been a tie. UAA entered with a 3-0-1 record at the DECC in its last two visits there.
Grant and freshman forward Jordan Kwas, who assisted on McLeod's goal, have each furnished at least one point in all five games this season. Freshman Mark Pustin's assist on McLeod's goal marked his first career point.
Sophomore center Alex Gellert, who had played in all 40 games since his career began at UAA, was a scratch Friday.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
UAA 1 1 0 0 -- 2
UMD 1 1 0 1 -- 3
First Period - 1, UAA, Grant 2 (Wiles, Vidmar), 3:26. Penalties - Naslund, UAA (hooking), 6:45; Olsen, UMD (elbowing), 16:25.
Second Period - 2, UMD, M. Connolly 4 (J. Connolly, Fontaine), :59; 3, UAA, McLeod 1 (Kwas, Pustin), 7:08; 4, UMD, M. Connolly 5 (Fontaine, Reiter), 13:49. Penalties - McLeod, UAA (holding), 7:28; Faulk, UMD (roughing), 8:25; Warner, UAA (roughing), 8:25.
Third Period - None. Penalties - Flaherty, UMD (charging the goalie), 6:18; Brown, UMD (charging the goalie), 17:46.
Overtime - 5, UMD, Brown 3 (Oleksuk, Schmidt), :31. Penalties - None.
Shots on goal - UAA 8-8-8-0--24. UMD 5-15-4-1--25.
Power-play Opportunities - UAA 0 of 3; UMD 0 of 2.
Goalies - UAA, Gunderson, (1-2-0) (25 shots-22 saves). UMD, Reiter, (3-0-1) (24-22).
A - 5,076 (5,294). T - 2:20.
Referees - Derek Shepherd, Marco Hunt. Assistant Referees - Sterling Egan, Brandon Polich.