An overtime defeat is particularly agonizing, as UAA learned again Friday night, when UAF’s Cody Kunyk delivered the dagger in extra time.
Kunyk’s wrister at 2 minutes, 50 seconds of OT lifted UAF to a 2-1 victory over UAA at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks.
That victory in Game 1 of the Governor’s Cup gave the Nanooks a leg up in the annual two-game showdown between Alaska’s two college hockey teams.
The Nanooks (15-14-4), who have won three consecutive Cups and the last two in shootouts, can maintain possession of the hardware with a win or a tie in Game 2, which is Saturday night at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
The Seawolves (4-20-7) must win Game 2 to force a post-game shootout for the Cup.
Kunyk’s strike spoiled a career-high 39 saves from UAA junior goaltender Chris Kamal.
Friday’s game was one of the lowest-scoring matches in the 146 games the teams have played dating back to 1979. The standard in that regard is UAA’s 1-0 win in Fairbanks in 2009, when Bryce Christianson (31 saves) outdueled future NHLer Chad Johnson (30 saves) and Paul Crowder furnished a power-play marker in the waning minutes of regulation.
This time around, the teams skated through nearly two periods before UAF sophomore Garrick Perry cracked a scoreless tie with less than three minutes left in the second period. Perry’s goal was just his second of the season and his third in 44 career games.
But the Seawolves, who have won just once in their last 19 games, forged a 1-1 tie with about seven seconds remaining in regulation. Senior Alex Gellert cashed in on the power play off helpers from Matt Bailey and Quinn Sproule.
After struggling mightily on the power play for much of the season, the Seawolves have converted on nine of 22 power-play opportunities in the last six games.
Gellert’s goal rewarded UAA for a strong third period. After managing 12 shots on goal in the opening 40 minutes, the Seawolves unleashed 15 shots in the third period.
UAF freshman goaltender John Keeney made 27 saves.
The OT loss was UAA’s second of the season, and Friday’s game marked the ninth time in 31 games this season the Seawolves have played into OT.
The 41 shots UAA surrendered marked the third time in the last five games it has given up 41 or more shots in a game.
The UAF line of Kunyk, Colton Beck, who assisted on the winner, and Andy Taranto combined for 17 shots on goal, with Taranto racking a game-high seven. The Nanooks entered averaging 34.3 shots per game, tops in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
UAA’s power-play goal came against a UAF penalty-killing crew that entered the evening tied for fourth in the nation with 89.8-percent efficiency.
Welcome to the world, Elise Lydia Lechtenberg, daughter of UAA assistant athletic trainer Kevin Lechtenberg and his wife, Yasmin.
Elise was born Feb. 22, measuring 19.75 inches and weighing 7 pounds, 4 ounces. She joins older an older brother, 4-year-old August, in the Lechtenberg lineup. Kevin reports mom and daughter are doing well.
Find Doyle Woody’s blog at adn.com or call him at 257-4335.
UAA 0 0 1 0 — 1
UAF 0 1 0 1 — 2
First Period — None. Penalties — Kaiser, UAF (roughing), 4:49; Trupp, UAA (high-sticking), 4:49.
Second Period — 1, UAF, Perry 2 (Morley, Atkinson), 17:31. Penalties — Huysmans, UAF (tripping), 3:10; Sproule, UAA (cross-checking), 18:04.
Third Period — 2, UAA, Gellert 6 (Bailey, Sproule), 12:48 (pp). Penalties — Murphy, UAA (holding), 8:13; Morley, UAF (tripping), 12:07.
Overtime — 3, UAF, Kunyk 9 (Beck, Odegard), 2:50. Penalties — None.
Shots on goal — UAA 7-5-15-1—28. UAF 13-13-14-1—41.
Power-play Opportunities — UAA 1 of 2. UAF 0 of 3.
Goalies — UAA, Kamal, 2-11-3 (41 shots-39 saves). UAF, Keeney, 11-9-3 (28 shots-27 saves).
A — 4,268 (4,595). T — 2:20.
Referees — Don Adam, Butch Mousseaux. Assistant referees — Chad Colliander, John Conoy