A win for either UAA or Bowling Green would have been uplifting, just as a loss would have been agonizing, yet neither club finished Friday night feeling pure elation or pure anguish.
All the 2-2 tie at Sullivan Arena did was leave each side with something good to feel about entering Saturday night’s series finale and also further congest the already log-jammed Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings.
The Seawolves, architects of a two-goal third period, were ecstatic to come from behind in their most pivotal game of the season and gain a point in the standings. The Falcons squandered a 2-0 lead entering the third period, but they buckled down after their lead vanished and earned a critical road point.
The result left UAA (14-11-4, 10-9-4 WCHA) and Bowling Green (13-12-6, 10-9-4 WCHA) in a three-way, third-place tie with Michigan Tech, a 7-3 loser to visiting and sixth-place UAF on Friday.
Just four points separate third place from seventh place and five points separate third place from ninth.
“We feel good about being able to scratch and claw, and get a point,’’ said UAA coach Matt Thomas. “The reality is, it’s just so hard to win in our league — it’s so even.’’
Down the hallway, Bowling Green bench boss Chris Bergeron wasn’t psyched to surrender a two-goal lead late, especially in a season when the inability to protect a late lead has proved puzzling. But he recognized that seizing a point on his team’s longest road trip of the season is a good result.
“First and foremost, we’ll take a point on the road, and full marks to Anchorage for continuing to push,’’ Bergeron said. “Our third periods have not been good this year, and I can’t explain it.’’
No one in the building was likely more relieved that the teams tangled to a tie after 65 minutes than UAA junior winger Scott Allen. He forged the game-tying goal, his career-high 13th of the season, more than midway through the third period when he pitch-forked a backhander from the slot over the glove of Falcons goaltender Tommy Burke (30 saves). That served as rink redemption because it was Allen’s ghastly turnover that led directly to Bowling Green’s opening goal four minutes into the game.
“I definitely wanted that play back and I knew I definitely owed the boys,’’ Allen said.
Allen, stationed behind his net just a few shifts into the game, had the puck on his forehand when he attempted a breakout pass to the right wing. He whiffed — completely. Matt Pohlkamp grabbed the puck, wheeled out front and got off a shot that Rob Gunderson (23 saves) stopped before Kevin Dufour banged in the rebound.
On a night when the Seawolves honored their four members on the WCHA’s Scholar-Athlete Team, they failed Hockey 101 in the first period, when another turnover led to another Falcons goal and a 2-0 deficit.
UAA defenseman Chris Williams rushed the puck up the ice, but he was stripped cleanly of it at the red line by Bowling Green’s Adam Berkle, who immediately counter-attacked and fed Cam Wojtala. Wojtala punched his own rebound past Gunderson.
The Seawolves cleaned up their game in the second period, outshooting the Falcons 10-4 — they generated a 9-1 shot advantage in the first 10 minutes of the period. Still, they could not crack Burke. He snapped his pads together to deny both Zack Rassell and Jordan Kwas, and trapped Blake Leask’s drive against his blocker to carry that 2-0 lead into the third period.
“We were playing well and had no finish,’’ Thomas said. “I told the guys, ‘You’re playing well, don’t get frustrated.’ ”
Kwas, a senior, finally solved Burke six minutes into the third period when he scored off his own rebound for his career-high 10th goal, which trimmed the deficit to 2-1.
“The sooner the better,’’ Kwas said of his goal, “not so you can relax, but so the guys who are out of it can believe again.”
After Allen delivered the equalizer with eight minutes left in regulation, the Falcons, who swept UAA 6-1 and 1-0 in Ohio in November, picked up their game. And in the five-minute overtime, they owned all four shots on goal.
“At 2-2, we played much better, played the game we were hoping to play,’’ Bergeron said.
And considering the Seawolves have never trailed by two goals after one period at home this season, or earned a point this season in a league game they trailed by two entering the third period, a tie felt rewarding.
“That’s a win in our heads, for sure,’’ Allen said.
UAA is 8-3-2 in WCHA home games this season. Saturday’s rematch marks the Seawolves final regular-season home game and is Senior Night.
Walk-on freshman winger Brad Duwe assisted on Kwas’ goal to give him a point in three straight games.
Junior defenseman Austin Coldwell assisted on Allen’s goal for his 14th point of the season, tying his career high.
Bowling Green’s Wojtala has four goals this season, three of them against UAA.
Find Doyle Woody’s blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
BG 2 0 0 0 — 2
UAA 0 0 2 0 — 2
First Period — 1, BG, Dufour 6 (Pohlkamp), 4:04; 2, BG, Wojtala 4 (Berkle), 18:02. Penalties — Perrier, BG (tripping), 1:13.
Second Period — None. Penalties — Hubbs, UAA (cross-checking), 3:09; Berkle, BG (interference), 6:30; Hubbs, UAA (tripping), 12:56.
Third Period — 3, UAA, Kwas 10 (Duwe, Van Allen), 5:56; 4, UAA, Allen 13 (Coldwell, Bailey), 11:49. Penalties — None.
Overtime — None. Penalties — None.
Shots on goal — BG 10-4-7-4—25. UAA 11-10-11-0—32.
Power-play Opportunities — BG 0 of 2. UAA 0 of 2.
Goalies — BG, Burke, 9-4-6 (32 shots-30 saves). UAA, Gunderson, 6-5-2 (25 shots-23 saves).
A — 2,333 (6,251). T — 2:25.
Referees — Chris Perrault, Dan Kovarik. Assistant referees — Travis Jackson, Carl Saden.