UAA hockey suffers ugly loss to St. Cloud State

Doyle Woody

The start of the second season looked a lot like the first season for UAA: Awful.

And if the Seawolves don't figure out some way to escape their months-long funk, they'll soon experience the third season -- the offseason.

League co-champion St. Cloud State opened its best-of-3, first-round Western Collegiate Hockey Association series - aka, the second season -- Friday night by pounding UAA, 6-1, at the National Hockey and Event Center in Minnesota.

Game 2 is Saturday night, and UAA must win to force a decisive Game 3 on Sunday.

Such a turnaround seems unlikely, though, given any number of marks the Seawolves keep penciling into the demerits column.

They have lost eight straight games after they finished the first season, the regular season, with seven consecutive losses. They have won just once in their last 23 games (1-19-3). They have scored one goal or fewer in seven of the last eight games. And they are beset by injuries.

Oh, and they've surrendered 19 goals in the last three games - UAA prepped for the playoffs with 7-1 and 6-1 losses at Denver. The five-goal spread the No. 8-ranked Huskies (22-14-1) dropped on the Seawolves (4-24-7) tied for the biggest goal differential in 22 Division I playoff games Friday.

The Seawolves began the night short one forward and one defenseman, dressing just 11 forwards and five blueliners. Junior winger Jordan Kwas, the team's second-leading scorer, remains out with an ankle injury. Sophomore defenseman Austin Coldwell is still shelved with a knee injury. Freshman defenseman Chris Williams did not play after getting hit in the ankle with a shot in Denver. And freshman defenseman Austin Sevalrud sat out to serve an automatic one-game suspension for his kicking major penalty last Sunday against Denver.

On top of that, UAA freshman defenseman Ben Matthews in the first period Friday received a major penalty and game misconduct for checking from behind. That's the 11th major penalty the Seawolves have been docked for in 35 games this season, and it left them with just 15 skaters, three shy of the usual 18.

St. Cloud pierced UAA junior goaltender Rob Gunderson (26 saves) for a goal from Garrett Milan just three minutes into the game. Yet the Seawolves answered just 69 seconds later on senior defenseman Scott Warner's goal.

After that, though, it was the Huskies by a landslide.

David Morley struck on the power play late in the first period, Jonny Brodzinksi, Joey Benik and Jimmy Murray delivered goals in the second period, and Brodzinski added another strike just 22 seconds into the third period.

St. Cloud entered Friday with just two power-play goals in their last 27 chances over seven games. But the Seawolves are the remedy for what ails a power play - their penalty-killing unit is the second-worst in Division I - and the Huskies went 2 of 5 with the man advantage.

All six home teams in the WCHA won their playoff openers Friday.

Denver beat rival Colorado College 5-3; Minnesota State-Mankato used 32 saves from freshman Stephon Williams for a 4-3 overtime win against Nebraska-Omaha. Minnesota outshot Bemidji State 51-18 and finally cracked Beavers goaltender Andrew Walsh (49 saves) in a 2-1 overtime victory. Wisconsin beat Minnesota-Duluth 3-1 and North Dakota beat Michigan Tech 5-3.

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UAA 1 0 0 -- 1

SCS 2 3 1 -- 6

First Period -- 1, SCS, Milan 2 (Morley, Benik), 3:15; 2, UAA, Warner 3 (Allen, Gellert), 4:24; 3, SCS, Morley 10 (Hanowski, Benik), 15:08 (pp). Penalties -- Matthews, UAA, major-game misconduct (checking from behind), 10:18; Dowd, SCS (tripping), 17:05.

Second Period -- 4, SCS, Brodzinski 20 (LeBlanc, Johnson), 4:06; 5, SCS, Benik 3 (Morley, Prow), 7:40 (pp); 6, SCS, Murray 5 (Hanowski), 19:21. Penalties -- Murphy, UAA (hooking), 4:06; Sproule, UAA (tripping), 6:20; Johnson, SCS (tripping), 9:20; Bailey, UAA (high-sticking), 11:56.

Third Period -- 7, SCS, Brodzinski 21, :22. Penalties -- Milan, SCS (roughing after the whistle), 5:02; Sproule, UAA (roughing after the whistle), 5:02; Dowd, SCS, major (boarding), 14:44; Leask, UAA (high-sticking), 15:07.

Shots on goal -- UAA 5-8-10--23. SCS 8-15-9--32.

Power-play Opportunities -- UAA 0 of 3. SCS 2 of 5.

Goalies -- UAA, Gunderson, 2-11-4 (32 shots-26 saves). SCS, Faragher, 21-12-1 (20 shots-19 saves); Phillippi, enter 13:53 3rd period (3-3).

A -- 2,949 (5,371). T -- 2:30.

Referees -- Matt Ulwelling, Jonathan Morrison. Assistant referees -- Brandon Polich, Rick Nelson.