Tough times continued to tax UAA on another somber Saturday evening at Sullivan Arena, where 14th-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato cruised to a 4-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association victory.
This latest loss stretched UAA’s winless streak to 10 games, the sixth-longest victory-free skid in the program’s 34-season history, and kept it buried in the basement of the league standings.
The Seawolves were shut out for the fifth time in 22 games this season and Mavericks freshman goaltender Stephon Williams of Fairbanks fed them a bagel for the second time in his fourth start against them.
While Friday night’s come-from-behind, 3-3 tie seemed to unburden the Seawolves some — after all, they trailed by two goals with less than four minutes to go — Saturday’s series finale proved another grim setback. UAA next week plays a league series at Wisconsin, which swept the Seawolves at Sullivan earlier this month.
“We felt good about ourselves after coming back for a tie,’’ said UAA junior center Matt Bailey. “Obviously, we’re desperate for a win, but the guys are positive and still working hard, and looking to get some points at Wisconsin.’’
The Seawolves mustered just 18 shots on Williams, which marked the 10th time this season they have been handcuffed to fewer than 20 shots and the sixth time they have gone sub-20 during their winless streak.
Again, they fell behind — Matt Leitner’s rebound strike on a two-man advantage less than seven minutes in reduced the Seawolves to chasing the game yet again. In the 605 minutes that have been played during UAA’s winless streak, it has led a mere 20:39 — so, basically, the Seawolves have led for the equivalent of one period out of 30 periods in that stretch.
Again, special teams killed them. The Mavericks (15-8-3, 9-8-1 WCHA), who moved into a tie for sixth place in the league, converted twice on four power-play chances and the Seawolves (3-14-5, 1-13-4 WCHA) took the collar on six opportunities. In their winless streak, the Seawolves have cashed in on just 2 of 30 power-play chances and opponents have converted 11 of 41 chances.
UAA has been outscored 37-13 during the winless streak, has been shut out three times and held to one goal or fewer seven times.
Williams, who had family and friends at the rink this weekend, said he was eager to get back at it after surrendering those two late goals Friday night.
“That’s a sour taste in your mouth after losing a two-goal lead,’’ he said. “As soon as that game was over, I was ready for (Saturday) and ready to get two points, because every point matters.’’
While Williams faced negligible Grade A chances from the Seawolves, his counterpart at the other end, UAA junior Chris Kamal (24 saves), actually played well against a much more difficult barrage.
The three goals Kamal surrendered in the third period, all from Mavericks defensemen, were aided by screens that blocked his vision as his teammates were unable to clear traffic in front of him. Zach Palmquist’s two goals and Evan Mosey’s single strike all squeezed through congestion atop Kamal’s crease.
Williams knows well how difficult screens are on goalies.
“That’s the hardest thing,’’ he said. “It feels like someone puts a blindfold on you and says, ‘Stop a shot.’ ’’
The Seawolves actually got off to a decent start, but they were unable in the first period to make good on four power-play chances that gave them a combined 6:28 with the man advantage.
Also, an apparent goal by Bailey just 76 seconds after Leitner opened the scoring was waved off because Seawolves captain Chris Crowell made contact with Williams just as Bailey fired his wrister.
“I thought we had a pretty good start,’’ Bailey said. “Obviously, they’re opportunistic, and that didn’t help. And getting that goal waved off didn’t help.’’
Still, the Seawolves trailed just 1-0 after one period. Yet the Mavericks enjoyed a tilted-ice second period, when they racked up those three goals and outshot the Seawolves 14-3 on the way to a 28-18 advantage for the game.
Williams’ four shutouts tie him for second among Division I goalies and make him the first Mavericks freshman to earn four shutouts, and that’s in a program that dates back to the 1969-70 season.
Williams is one shutout shy of tying Mike Zacharias’ single-season school record of five shutouts in 2007-08.
Mavericks senior center Eli Zuck of Anchorage recorded an assist for his 10th point in 24 games this season. The Mavericks are 10-0-0 when Zuck furnishes a point.
UAA’s penalty-killing percentage of 74.4 percent ranks 58th of 59 Division I teams, besting only Sacred Heart (71.9 percent), which is 0-20-2.
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Mankato 1 3 0 — 4
UAA 0 0 0 — 0
First Period — 1, MSM, Leitner 10 (Hayes), 6:46 (pp). Penalties — Stern, MSM (interference), 2:18; Leitner, MSM (tripping), 4:00; Naslund, UAA (holding), 4:46; Kwas, UAA (hooking), 5:58; Margonari, MSM (high-sticking), 11:12; Hayes, MSM (hooking), 15:05.
Second Period — 2, MSM, Palmquist 4 (Lafontaine), 7:00; 3, MSM, Mosey 4 (Margonari, Zuck), 10:30; 4, MSM, Palmquist 4 (Lehrke, Leitner), 17:51 (pp). Penalties — Sevalrud, UAA (cross-checking), 4:00; Allen, UAA (holding), 16:06.
Third Period — None. Penalties — Stern, MSM (cross-checking), 8:53; Hayes, MSM (tripping), 16:22.
Shots on goal — MSM 8-14-6—28. UAA 9-3-6—18.
Power-play Opportunities — MSM 2 of 4. UAA 0 of 6.
Goalies — MSM, Williams, 12-6-2 (18 shots-18 saves). UAA, Kamal, 2-8-1 (28 shots-24 saves).
A — 2,379 (6,251). T — 2:17.
Referees — Jarod Moen, Brett Klosowski. Assistant referees — Brett Johnson, Travis Jackson.