On the cusp of a shocking upset Friday night, UAA's propensity for taking major penalties saddled the Seawolves with their seventh straight loss.
The Seawolves were ahead by one goal at No. 1-ranked Minnesota in the waning minutes, but the Gopher power play that has slayed UAA this season clicked twice on a extended power play for a 4-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association victory at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.
Minnesota's Scott Bjugstad and Ben Marshall scored with the man advantage inside the last three-plus minutes to give the Gophers (15-3-3, 7-3-3 WCHA) their fourth straight win and extend their unbeaten streak to seven games (6-0-1).
The Gophers went on the extended power play when Seawolves senior center Tyler Currier was penalized for checking from behind with 4:08 remaining. That penalty came shortly after Daniel Naslund and Scott Allen had scored goals 3:36 apart to furnish a 3-2 Seawolves lead.
Currier's major penalty was the seventh major penalty against the last-place Seawolves (3-12-4, 1-11-3 WCHA) in 19 games this season and their fourth major penalty in the last five games.
And giving the Gophers an extended power play was very bad news for the Seawolves. Minnesota went 3 for 6 on the power play Friday and in three games against UAA this season has bagged a head-shaking eight power-play goals in 15 opportunities.
Minnesota's 24.3 percent power-play efficiency ranks fourth in the nation among 59 Division I teams. UAA's penalty-killing unit burns just 76.9 percent of opposing power plays, which is why the Seawolves rank 55th nationally in that category.
UAA started out strong, using Quinn Sproule's goal to take a 1-0 lead in the first period and outshooting Minnesota 12-8 in the opening 20 minutes. Those 12 shots matched UAA's season-low total for shots in an entire game -- that happened in last Saturday's 1-0 home loss to Wisconsin.
Minnesota bounced back with second-period goals from Kyle Rau - his came on the power play - and Bjugstad, a first-round NHL draft pick.
Still, Naslund and Allen, whose team-high eighth goal snapped his six-game goal drought, put the Seawolves ahead 3-2 and in excellent position to deliver an upset.
That would have been remarkable on a couple of fronts — namely, the Gophers are top-ranked in the country, and in their previous two games they took wins over then No. 2 Notre Dame and Boston College, ranked No. 1 at the time.
But Bjugstad tied the game with 3:11 remaining and Marshall delivered the game-winner with 51 seconds left, sending the Seawolves to their eight loss in nine games.
UAA's three goals marked just the second time during its current losing streak it has scored that many goals in a game.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
UAA 1 0 2 -- 3
UM 0 2 2 -- 4
First Period -- 1, UAA, Sproule 2 (Crowell, Coldwell), 5:17. Penalties -- Serratore, UM (interference), 13:37.
Second Period -- 2, UM, Rau 10 (Warning, Schmidt), 2:10 (pp); 3, UM, Bjugstad 11 (Isackson), 7:27. Penalties -- Coldwell, UAA (holding), :45; Williams, UAA (cross-checking), 8:21; Helgeson, UM (elbowing), 17:44; Docken, UAA (cross-checking), 19:02.
Third Period -- 4, UAA, Naslund 3 (Trupp, Sevalrud), 10:37; 5, UAA, Allen 8 (Tatchell, Leask), 14:13; 6, UM, Bjugstad 12 (Schmidt, Rau), 16:49 (pp); 7, UM, Marshall 4 (Reilly, Isackson), 19:09 (pp). Penalties -- Holl, UM (interference), 7:11; Currier, UAA, major-game misconduct (checking from behind), 15:52.
Shots on goal -- UAA 12-3-5--20. UM 8-10-12--30.
Power-play Opportunities -- UAA 0 of 3. UM 3 of 6.
Goalies -- UAA, Gunderson, 1-5-4 (30 shots-26 saves). UM, Wilcox, 15-3-3 (20 shots-17 saves).
A -- 9,625 (10,000). T -- 2:15.
Referees -- Chris Perrault, Tom Sterns. Assistant referees -- Brandon Polich, Jeff Schultz.