UAA snapped a couple of soul-sapping streaks Friday night, but those minor breakthroughs furnished scant consolation for a team that has lost three straight Western Collegiate Hockey Association games and won just one of its 11 league matches.
Tyler Currier’s goal late in the third period halted the Seawolves’ scoreless streak of 172 minutes, 17 seconds — nearly three full games — and stopped a string of 11 consecutive goals by opponents.
Other than that, and the effort of goaltender Chris Kamal, who kept the Seawolves close into the late stages of the second period at Sullivan Arena, UAA’s 5-1 loss didn’t deliver much optimism.
In their last three games, the Seawolves have been outscored 11-2. They have been outshot 113-54. And they have led for 70 seconds out of 180 minutes played in that stretch.
With one game remaining before the holiday break — the Seawolves and Bulldogs play their series finale Saturday night — the most difficult thing for UAA at the moment may be maintaining a collective spirit.
“Obviously, it’s a tough time for us right now, because we’ve got the team that can do this,’’ Kamal said. “Duluth’s a good team, but we’ve played better — we beat (second-place) St. Cloud two weeks ago.
“It’s about us calming down. A couple guys may be gripping their sticks. We’ve just got to keep our heads.’’
UAA slipped to 3-8-4 overall and 1-7-3 in the WCHA, where it sits last among 12 teams. Minnesota-Duluth improved to 6-8-3 overall and 4-6-3 in league.
Although Minnesota-Duluth’s Jake Hendrickson scored 86 seconds into the game, Kamal held that Seawolves deficit at 1-0 until deep into the second period. Even though the Bulldogs particularly dominated in the second period — Minnesota-Duluth outshot UAA 11-1 in the period — the game didn’t truly turn their way until less than five minutes remained before intermission.
Bulldogs center Tony Cameranesi and defenseman Chris Casto, each of whom scored twice, generated consecutive goals 61 seconds apart to extend the lead to 3-0. Cameranesi’s goal came after a splendid rush by defenseman Drew Olson, who juked two forecheckers as he dashed through neutral ice.
“It was nice to get a little bit of a cushion,’’ said Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin.
And 75 seconds after the Bulldogs seized that three-goal margin, UAA freshman winger Hayden Trupp received a major penalty and game misconduct for checking from behind. While the Seawolves killed that long Minnesota-Duluth man-advantage that bridged the second and third periods, that stretch sapped their energy and significantly reduced any hint of a comeback.
Kamal, who has crafted a .903 save percentage during the three-game losing streak, did his part to keep the Seawolves in range for much of the game.
“We’re all in this together,’’ he said. “Me and (fellow junior goal Rob Gunderson), when he’s in there, we’re trying to give us a fighting chance, or keep us in the lead when we have one.’’
Casto and Cameranesi scored goals about three minutes apart midway through the third period to secure victory.
Currier’s goal, off a Chris Crowell rebound without about six minutes to go, prevented Bulldogs freshman Matt McNeely (16 saves) from his first shutout. Freshman winger Bobby Murphy also assisted on Currier’s career-high third goal to register his first college point.
Much of the season has been a rough go for the Seawolves, and Fridays have been a little rougher. UAA is just 1-5-1 on Fridays — and winless (0-5-1) in league — and 2-2-3 on Saturdays, including 1-2-3 in league games.
Minnesota-Duluth, meanwhile, is just the opposite. The Bulldogs are 5-2-1 overall on Fridays, but 0-5-2 on Saturdays — they have also won on a Thursday and lost on a Sunday.
Sandelin expects some push-back from the Seawolves on Saturday night.
“Saturday nights are always hard in this league,’’ he said. “Emotions are higher, intensity too. Whatever it is, it’s always harder. This will be a challenge.’’
UAA went 0 for 4 on the power play and is 0 for 12 with the man advantage in the last four games.
The Seawolves killed all three Bulldogs power plays, marking just the second time in the last 11 games Minnesota-Duluth has failed to score on the power play.
The announced crowd of 2,215 was UAA’s smallest in seven home games this season and dropped average attendance to 2,800, nearly 300 fewer per game than last season.
UMD 1 2 2 -- 5
UAA 0 0 1 -- 1
First Period -- 1, UMD, Hendrickson 4 (Flaherty), 1:26. Penalties -- Smith, UMD (tripping), 13:20; Pettitt, UAA (hooking), 14:33; Danberg, UMD (tripping), 16:50; Kwas, UAA (roughing), 19:22.
Second Period -- 2, UMD, Cameranesi 7 (Olson, Basaraba), 15:31; 3, UMD, Casto 1 (Herbert, Hendrickson), 16:32. Penalties -- Olson, UMD (boarding), 5:09; Basaraba, UMD (cross-checking), 8:46; Trupp, UAA, major-game misconduct, served by Pettitt (checking from behind), 17:47; Currier, UAA (grasping face mask), 19:53; Cameranesi, UMD (slashing), 19:53.
Third Period -- 4, UMD, Casto 2 (Danberg), 9:56; 5, UMD, Cameranesi 8, 12:53; 6, UAA, Currier 3 (Crowell, Murphy), 14:06. Penalties -- Coldwell, UAA (roughing), 6:14; Cameranesi, UMD (roughing), 6:14; Tatchell, UAA (holding), 11:32; Farley, UMD (holding), 11:32; Sevalrud, UAA (roughing), 14:16; Young, UMD (roughing), 14:16.
Shots on goal -- UMD 12-11-15--38. UAA 6-1-10--17.
Power-play Opportunities -- UMD 0 of 3. UAA 0 of 4.
Goalies -- UMD, McNeely, 4-4-1 (17 shots-16 saves). UAA, Kamal, 2-6-0 (38 shots-33 saves).
A -- 2,215 (6,251). T -- 2:15.
Referees -- Tom Sterns, Chris Perrault. Assistant referees -- Carl Saden, Travis Jackson.