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UAA hockey team swept by Mankato, losing 7-3

Doyle Woody

The Seawolves did not shoot the puck into their own net Saturday night, so they had that going for them.

Otherwise -- aside from two goals by Scott Allen and one by Blake Tatchell -- it was a difficult evening for the Seawolves at the Verizon Wireless Center, where Minnesota State-Mankato turned UAA's penalty-killing unit into a punching bag for a 7-3 victory.

The win earned the Mavericks a sweep of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series -- Mankato won 3-2 Friday -- and the loss furnished the Seawolves with abundant lowlights.

UAA surrendered the most goals it has in a game this season. UAA gave up a season high five power-play strikes -- let that soak in, and consider that Minnesota State-Mankato only enjoyed six power plays. And while turnovers are not logged as an official statistic in the WCHA, it's a safe assumption the Seawolves reached, or at least sniffed, a season-high in that category.

All those shortcomings didn't make for a welcome warm-up for next week's Governor's Cup home series against rival UAF in a two-game set that doubles as a league series.

UAA (6-6-2, 3-5-2 WCHA) entertains UAF on Friday and Saturday nights at Sullivan Arena, and the Seawolves challenge is to muster a rapid response to a lost weekend.

At least they'll be at home, where they are 5-0-1. The road, by contrast, has wrought ruin -- UAA is 0-5-1 in WCHA roadies.

Minnesota State (7-7-0, 5-3-0 WCHA) won its third straight game, and received multiple-point performances from seven players. Jean-Paul Lafontaine scored two goals and added an assist to wrap a five-point series, and Johnny McInnis scored twice. Also, sophomore Stephon Williams of Fairbanks, the reigning WCHA Goaltender of the Year, who has lost his No. 1 gig because of a poor start to the season, made 23 saves. He also looked shaky.

But Williams was supported by a skilled offense that strafed UAA senior goalies Rob Gunderson and Chris Kamal. The Mavericks scored three goals to chase Gunderson 16 minutes into the game and pierced Kamal, making his first appearance of the season, for four goals on 18 shots. UAA coach Matt Thomas said yanking Gunderson was designed to spark his team and not a reflection of Gunderson's work.

Such is the cruel math of hockey's formula for determining wins and losses for goalies that Kamal was charged with the loss because he gave up the goal that became the game winner.

Still, neither Gunderson nor Kamal gained much support, particularly against a Mavericks power play that went 6 for 10 on the weekend.

Matters unraveled quickly for UAA. Lafontaine banged in his own rebound on a power play less than four minutes into the game. And although Tatchell answered three minutes later, Mankato's Bryce Gervais and Zach Palmquist scored 1 minute, 57 seconds apart later in the period. Bryce received a generous turnover from UAA freshman winger Hudson Friesen, who set up Tatchell's goal, and Palmquist struck when Gunderson was screened by a teammate.

It got worse for the visitors, who trailed 3-1 at that point. UAA defenseman Chris Williams took an ill-advised roughing penalty with 31.6 seconds left in the period and McInnis cashed in with a power-play wrister for a 4-1 lead.

The first of Allen's two goals, just 48 seconds into the second period, afforded the Seawolves some hope -- 39 minutes remained after all. But Zach Stepan's wraparound on the power play less than three minutes later -- stationed behind the net, Stepan deked Kamal into covering the left post, then tucked the puck inside the right post.

"We killed our momentum,'' Thomas said. "Every time we did something good, we came back and gave them a chance with an unforced error.''

And when Allen struck again five minutes into the third period to cut the Mavericks' lead to 5-3, Williams took a slashing penalty just 16 seconds later. A mere 18 seconds after that McInnis scored, and Lafontaine soon followed with another power-play goal.

The rest of the night was just bookkeeping.

"We didn't just pack it in,'' Thomas said. "We tried to claw back into it. Ultimately, we just made too many mistakes for that to happen.''

Seawolves notes

The Seawolves' lack of scoring depth is starting to show.

Allen, who leads UAA with nine goals, and Matt Bailey, who has eight goals, each are on terrific paces. But they've also accounted for 17 of UAA's 38 goals (44.7 percent).

Allen (9-4--13 in 14 games) moved into a tie with Jordan Kwas (5-8--13 in 14) for the team lead in scoring. Bailey sits third (8-4--12 in 14) and Tatchell (3-7--10), who has furnished four points in the last three games, is fourth. Kwas played his 100th career game Saturday.

Allen's two-goal game marked the 10th mulitiple-point game of his career. Bailey leads active Seawolves with 14 career multiple-point games.

Special teams killed UAA in the series. The Seawolves were 0 for 5 on the power play Saturday and 0 for 8 on the weekend.

Gunderson's streak of seven straight games with a .903 save percentage or higher came to an end. He stopped 10 of 13 shots (.769), which dropped his overall save percentage to .910.

UAA closes the first half of the season with consecutive WCHA series at home -- after UAF, the Seawolves entertain Lake Superior (Mich.) State. Their next road series is a non-conference set, Jan. 3-4, at Wisconsin.

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog.

UAA1 1 1 3

MSM 4 1 2 7

First Period -- 1, MSM, Lafontaine 5 (Bluegar, Nelson), 3:44 (pp); 2, UAA, Tatchell 3 (Friesen), 6:42; 3, MSM, Gervais 5, 13:57; 4, MSM, Palmquist 2 (Stepan, Nelson), 15:54; 5, MSM, McInnis 4 (Palmquist, Lehrke), 19:55 (pp). Penalties -- Lehrke, MSM (cross-checking), 1:24; Cameron, UAA (tripping), 2:32; Stepan, MSM (goaltender interference), 7:57; Leitner, MSM (tripping), 16:51; Williams, UAA (roughing), 19:28.

Second Period -- 6, UAA, Allen 8 (Bailey), :48; 7, MSM, Stepan 3 (Bluegar, Leitner), 3:23 (pp). Penalties -- Hubbs, UAA (tripping), 2:16; Foguth, MSM (hitting after whistle), 7:18; Palmquist, MSM (roughing), 8:35; Hubbs, UAA (roughing), 8:35; Van Allen, UAA (cross-checking), 17:43.

Third Period -- 8, UAA, Allen 9, 5:36; 9, MSM, McInnis 5 (Lafontaine, Leitner), 6:09 (pp); 10, MSM, Lafontaine 6 (Leitner, Palmquist), 8:18 (pp). Penalties -- Williams, UAA (slashing), 5:51; Docken, UAA (holding), 7:46; Leitner, MSM (roughing), 15:25.

Shots on goal -- UAA 9-10-7--26. MSM 15-5-11--31.

Power-play Opportunities -- UAA 0 of 5. MSM 5 of 6.

Goalies -- UAA, Gunderson (13 shots-10 saves); Kamal, 0-1-0 (18-14). MSM, Williams, 3-4-0 (26 shots-23 saves).

A -- 2,573 (4,832). T -- 2:22.

Referees -- Derek Shepherd, Brad Shepherd. Assistant referees -- Matt Tyree, Rick Nelson.

 


By DOYLE WOODY
dwoody@adn.com