UAA enters final regular-season WCHA series seeking some sort of momentum for playoffs

Doyle Woody

Saddled with five straight losses and with just one win in its last 20 games, UAA heads into its final regular-season series trying to muster some semblance of a playoff push in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

The Seawolves long ago wrapped up last place in the 12-team league and they'll make their annual road trip for the first round of the league playoffs -- their opponent, the league champion, remains a mystery.

First, though, UAA plays at the University of Denver on Friday and Sunday, and what it desperately requires is any hint of momentum it can carry into the postseason.

The Pioneers, rated No. 11 in one national poll and No. 12 in another, have much at stake, so presumably they will compete with urgency. They sit in seventh place, one point behind Nebraska-Omaha and two points behind both Minnesota State-Mankato and Wisconsin. Sixth place is critical because the top six finishers earn home ice for the first round.

UAA has spent the second half reeling and is just 1-16-3 dating back to early December. The Seawolves are coming off two Governor's Cup losses to rival UAF, 2-1 in overtime in Fairbanks and 3-1 at home.

The good news out of that was junior Chris Kamal stopped 55 of 60 shots in the series (.917 save percentage) and gave his team a chance. The tougher front was UAA's continued struggle to score goals -- the Seawolves have been held to one goal or fewer in four of their five straight losses.

They'll also remain without a couple of key players this weekend, according to the school. Junior winger Jordan Kwas, the team's second-leading scorer, remains out with a sprained ankle. Ditto for sophomore defenseman Austin Coldwell, who is shelved with a knee injury.

UAA is most likely to face St. Cloud State in the first round. The league-leading Huskies, who close the regular season with a series at Wisconsin, lead both Minnesota and North Dakota by two points, and own the tie-breaker against both teams. Two points will clinch the No. 1 seed for the Huskies.

The Seawolves played the Huskies tough in a series in Anchorage in the first half. St. Cloud won the opener 4-3 in overtime -- after UAA owned a 3-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes, no less -- and UAA rebounded for a 3-1 victory that represents just one of its two wins in 26 league games this season.


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