Seawolves' done in by mistakes

Matias Saari

Five goals found the net during Friday's night contest between UAA and Minnesota State, and Seawolves skaters were the last to touch the puck on all but one of them.

That didn't spell victory, however, for the last-place team in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, because two of the goals credited to the Mavericks -- including the third-period game-winner that lifted Minnesota State to a 3-2 win at Sullivan Arena -- went in UAA's net after being touch by the Seawolves.

"Bounces have not been going our way. That's all I can say," UAA sophomore goalie Rob Gunderson said. "It's just unlucky bounces. It's no one's fault."

UAA coach Dave Shyiak had a different opinion after one of his players tried to clear the puck only to have it ricochet off a teammate and into UAA's goal with 10:18 remaining at Sullivan Arena.

"That's a little bit of puck luck, but we've got to be smarter with the puck in situations like that," Shyiak said after the Seawolves fell to 7-18-2 overall and 4-17-1 in the WCHA.

The game-winning sequence began when Mavericks freshman defenseman Mat Knoll fired a shot -- or perhaps a pass -- that streaking teammate Mike Louwerse tried to tip in. Gunderson managed to knock the puck off his right post and seconds later it wound up on UAA defenseman Quinn Sproule's stick on the other side of the net.

"Sproule just tried to whack it away but unfortunately it just caught someone," said Gunderson, who didn't see the puck after the ricochet. "Their guy (Louwerse) and (UAA defenseman) Austin Coldwell were tied up in front of the net. ... It must have gone off Coldwell."

Louwerse was credited with his second goal of the night -- he had just one in 22 previous games -- but said he didn't touch the puck.

"It ended up hitting one of (Sproule's) teammates' legs and bounced back in the net," Louwerse said. "It doesn't matter how it goes in as long as it goes in."

The defeat snapped a five-game unbeaten streak for the Seawolves against the Mavericks. And it came on the heels of UAA's 3-2 victory last Saturday over Minnesota-Duluth, the defending national champions and then top-ranked team in the nation, a win that snapped the Seawolves' eight-game skid.

Friday's result guarantees that UAA will remain in the WCHA basement after this weekend. A sweep of the two-game series, which concludes tonight at Sullivan, would have brought the Seawolves even with the Mavericks.

Though Shyiak was satisfied with the effort displayed in the third period, he said the Seawolves lacked intensity in the first two periods.

"I thought we lost the game in the second period," he said.

The middle stanza was when the Mavericks (11-19-1, 7-15-1) scored twice in a span of 2:40 to erase a 1-0 deficit.

First Louwerse collected a turnover in UAA's zone and from point-blank range scored at 8:56 after a nifty give-and-go with Jean-Paul Lafontaine, the nephew of NHL Hall of Famer Pat Lafontaine.

"JP tapped it right back and it was pretty much a wide open net," Louwerse said of the 2-on-0 breakaway.

Then at 11:36, Minnesota State sophomore left wing Johnny McInnis pounced on a loose puck deep in the Seawolves zone and fired a shot that found its way past Gunderson, who said the puck deflected off a UAA defenseman.

"It went off Scott Warner's skate. It wasn't even going to hit the net," Gunderson said.

Gunderson finished with 14 saves. Mavericks counterpart Phil Cook -- a former Fairbanks Ice Dog -- made 22, half of them in the third period including stellar stops in the waning minutes on Matt Bailey and Brett Cameron.

UAA's power-play, ranked last in the league, was a bright spot. For the third straight game the Seawolves converted, finishing with two goals in three man-advantage situations on Friday.

Bailey picked up where he left off against Minnesota- Duluth (three points in Saturday's upset) after Minnesota State's Michael Dorr was whistled for tripping just 37 ticks before the first-period horn. The sophomore center won a face-off, then quickly received the puck from Coldwell and buried a wrister from the right circle past Cook's glove-side at 19:35.

UAA missed a golden chance to double its lead early in the second period when Curtis Leinweber, off a feed from Bailey, found himself alone in front of the Maverick net. However, Cook made the save and tempers flared following the ensuing scrum, which sent four players to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct.

But UAA's power-play struck again at 5:36 of the third period to knot the score 2-2. Warner, who was on the ice for both of Minnesota State' second-period strikes, found the net from the high slot with the assist going to Coldwell, his defensive partner.

But four minutes later UAA's fortunes were reversed when Coldwell was the victim of Sproule's clearing attempt.

No single play, however, determines a hockey game, and Gunderson said the Seawolves need to play with more urgency and desperation.

"We are last in the league and you have to play with that hunger," he said. "Inconsistent. That's the only word for it."


By MATIAS SAARI
Daily News correspondent