Not only does winning salve wounds, it also lightens moods, which explains why Matt Bailey felt free to chirp Rob Gunderson in the wake of UAA’s 3-1 victory over Alabama-Huntsville on Friday night.
Bailey, the senior center who furnished the eventual game-winning goal and assisted on Scott Allen’s insurance strike, also authored the turnover that led to a late short-handed goal by the Chargers.
With UAA leading 2-0 and about two minutes remaining in regulation at Sullivan Arena, Bailey’s power-play turnover at the Huntsville blue line sprung Alex Allan on a breakaway, and the senior scored on a lovely short-handed backhander.
“(Gunderson) should have had a shutout,’’ Bailey said, deadpan. “I wanted to give him a challenge, and he failed.’’
“I guess I did fail,’’ Gunderson responded, laughing. “Better luck next time.’’
Of course, just 20 seconds after Allan’s goal, UAA winger Dylan Hubbs blocked a shot and drew a hooking penalty, and Scott Allen scored off a Bailey helper just eight seconds into the ensuing power play for a 3-1 Seawolves lead.
It was Bailey who helped give the Seawolves a 2-0 cushion in their Western Collegiate Hockey Association home opener. After Brett Cameron scored on a power-play rebound midway through the first period, that 1-0 UAA lead held until Bailey’s rocketing one-timer off Jordan Kwas’ power-play pass five minutes into the third period.
The goal was a team-high fifth for Bailey, who also leads the team in scoring with eight points in seven games.
Gunderson didn’t get the second shutout of his career, but the senior stopped 13 shots to boost his season save percentage to .908.
He got some fortuitous bounces too — the Chargers twice rang shots off his right post in the second period. Alabama-Huntsville (0-7-0, 0-5-0 WCHA) has scored just seven goals in its seven games, and it badly needed one of those shots off the iron to bounce its way.
“We need to have those to create some energy,’’ said Chargers coach Mike Corbett.
Just as importantly for the Seawolves (4-3-0, 1-2-0 WCHA), they went 2 for 4 on the power play and scored three goals after scoring just once in two losses last weekend at Bowling Green.
“Emotionally, it’s such a confidence-booster,’’ Gunderson said. “They’ve worked so hard this year, we deserve the goals.’’
UAA generated 33 shots, its second-highest total this season, although Chargers freshman goalie Carmine Guerriero delivered a strong performance to put his season save percentage at .914.
It’s also worth noting that UAA’s four wins already match its total from last season, when it went 4-25-7 in Dave Shyiak’s last campaign behind the bench.
“We played hard and kept our foot on the gas, even during some frustrating moments,’’ said Seawolves coach Matt Thomas. “I liked our resolve and our focus.’’
Bailey lead active Seawolves goal scorers with 32 career goals. He and fellow senior Kwas are tied for most points among active Seawolves with 64 each.
Of the 16 goals UAA has scored this season, its four players with multiple goals have accounted for 13 — Bailey has five, Kwas and Allen have three each and Cameron has two.
Cameron’s goal and assist snapped his five-game point drought.
Sophomore center Blake Tatchell, the team’s leading returning scorer, is off to a tough start. He hasn’t scored a point in the last five games.
Special teams are making life tough for the Chargers. They were 0 for 2 on the power play Friday, and have converted just three times in 37 chances (8.1-percent efficiency). Their penalty killers have been successful just 63.3 percent of the time.
“We’ve got to shore up our special teams,’’ Corbett said.
Find Doyle Woody’s blog at adn.com/hockeyblog.
First Period — 1, UAA, Cameron 2 (Coldwell), 10:29 (pp). Penalties — Carlson, Ala.-Huntsville (interference), 4:34; Broberg, Ala.-Huntsville (holding), 11:48.
Second Period — None. Penalties — Van Allen, UAA (hooking), 5:27; Coldwell, UAA (interference), 9:11; Hubbs, UAA (slashing), 13:50; Broberg, Ala.-Huntsville (tripping), 13:50.
Third Period — 2, UAA, Bailey 5 (Kwas, Leask), 4:43; 3, Ala.-Huntsville, Allen 1, 18:04 (sh); 5, UAA, Allen 3 (Bailey, Cameron), 18:32 (pp). Penalties — Clowes, Ala.-Huntsville (tripping), 16:06; Clowes, Ala.-Huntsville (hooking), 18:24.
Shots on goal — Ala.-Huntsville 4-6-4—14. UAA 8-10-15—33.
Power-play Opportunities — Ala.-Huntsville 0 of 2. UAA 2 of 4.
Goalies — Ala.-Huntsville, Guerriero, 0-4-0 (33 shots-30 saves). UAA, Gunderson, 2-2-0 (14 shots-13 saves).
A — 2,106 (6,251). T — 2:13.
Referees — Tom Sterns, Rodney Tocco. Assistant referees — Carl Saden, Travis Jackson.