Anchorage — This time, the Seawolves didn’t throw up all over their three-goal lead.
Instead, they treated it like a precious possession.
One night after squandering an early cushion and falling in overtime to St. Cloud State, UAA reprised that early advantage and made it stick Saturday night, earning a 3-1 win over the Huskies.
That earned the Seawolves their first Western Collegiate Hockey Association win this season and administered some much-needed emotional salve.
UAA’s victory at Sullivan Arena snapped its seven-game winless streak (0-4-3, all in league) and proved a strong bounce-back performance after Friday’s soul-searching 4-3 loss.
“It’s important, because we’ve been in a lot of close games — four times (in league) we’ve either lost or tied in OT,’’ said UAA captain Chris Crowell. “Guys are sticking with it, and it was nice for all the guys to be rewarded.’’
UAA’s first win since Oct. 20 — granted, the team endured two idle weekends since then — was crafted behind 32 saves from junior goaltender Chris Kamal and three goals inside the first 23 minutes.
Unlike Friday, when St. Cloud State clearly carried play after the first period, UAA (3-5-4 overall, 1-4-3 WCHA) on Saturday kept the Huskies in check during the second period. Even in the third period, when the Huskies outshot the Seawolves 16-2 and enjoyed three power plays, Kamal and company didn’t crack.
UAA coach Dave Shyiak said it was a case of his team showing “mental fortitude’’ that was lacking Friday.
“We certainly displayed it tonight, almost in the exact same scenario,’’ Shyiak said. “Guys kind of knocked that hurdle down tonight.’’
Kamal, in his first start since Nov. 9, buoyed the Seawolves in the third period by smothering shots or directing them into the corners, thus preventing perilous goal-mouth scrambles.
“He got the win for them,’’ said St. Cloud coach Bob Motzko. “We had a number of opportunities to get back in the game in the third period, and he made some key saves.’’
The Huskies (8-6-0, 6-4-0 WCHA), ranked No. 14 in one national poll and No. 15 in another, didn’t dent Kamal until Jonny Brodzinski scored on a fluttering one-timer from the bottom of the left circle to cut UAA’s lead to 3-1 with less than five minutes to go.
By then, UAA had been riding its 3-0 lead for the better part of two periods.
The Seawolves got off to another strong start when their top line cashed in less than four minutes into the game on sophomore winger Scott Allen’s team-leading seventh goal. The play began with Alex Gellert rushing deep on right wing, cutting back on his backhand and feeding center Blake Tatchell. Tatchell quickly moved the puck to his left, where Allen banged it past Ryan Faragher (19 saves) from the edge of the crease.
About 10 minutes later, UAA senior defenseman Scott Warner blew down the weak side on left wing and wired a pass from Quinn Sproule, a defenseman playing the wing, behind Faragher for a 2-0 edge.
UAA pushed its advantage to 3-0 less than three minutes into the second period when senior center Daniel Naslund delivered his first goal of the season. Naslund, cruising down the slot, took a pass from Hayden Trupp and shoveled it off the crossbar and in.
St. Cloud pushed back early in the third period, firing nine shots on Kamal in the opening six minutes. Still, he never faltered early, or at any time in the 14-plus minutes it took UAA to register a shot in the period.
And the Seawolves never looked ready to crack, which is exactly how they looked much of the third period Friday.
“It’s just got to be a simple way, 20 guys playing the same way, finishing checks, getting pucks out, and the goalie making big saves, which Kamal did tonight,’’ Crowell said.
From Motzko’s standpoint, his team was clearly “out-competed for pucks’’ in the first two periods and put itself in poor position.
“Give them credit,’’ he said of the Seawolves. “They worked their tails off.’’
Tatchell’s assist stretched his point streak to five games – he owns 1-5—6 totals in that span.
Shyiak juggled three of his four forward lines Saturday, leaving only the Allen-Tatchell-Gellert line in place — so, it’s worth noting that UAA’s goals came from three different lines.
Tatchell leads UAA in points (3-7—10 totals in 12 games), Allen ranks second (7-2—9 in 12 games) and Gellert is tied for third (5-3—8 in 12 games). Center Matt Bailey, who assisted on Warner’s goal, also has eight points (1-7—8 in 12 games).
Crowell led all players Saturday with three blocked shots.
Kamal lowered his goals-against average to 2.79 and raised his save percentage to .908.
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SCS 0 0 1 — 1
UAA 2 1 0 — 3
First Period — 1, UAA, Allen 7 (Tatchell, Gellert), 3:53; 2, UAA, Warner 1 (Sproule, Bailey), 13:19. Penalties — LeBlanc, SCS (tripping), 14:33; Tatchell, UAA (tripping), 18:26; Thorson, SCS (boarding), 19:18.
Second Period — 3, UAA, Naslund 1 (Trupp, Kwas), 2:24. Penalties — Daly, SCS (tripping), 12:31.
Third Period — 4, SCS, Brodzinski 4 (LeBlanc, Rabey), 15:36. Penalties — Kwas, UAA (tripping), 7:07; Trupp, UAA (slashing), 9:47; Tatchell, UAA (roughing), 16:46; Johnson, SCS (roughing), 16:46; Williams, UAA (boarding), 19:27.
Shots on goal — SCS 7-10-16—33. UAA 11-9-2—22.
Power-play Opportunities — SCS 0 of 4. UAA 0 of 3.
Goalies — SCS, Faragher, 7-6-0 (22 shots-19 saves). UAA, Kamal, 2-3-0 (33 shots-32 saves).
A — 2,287 (6,251). T — 2:19.
Referees — Don Adam, Tim Walsh. Assistant referees — Carl Saden, Brent Johnson.