After getting throttled by its rival Friday night in Fairbanks, UAA staged a road resurrection Saturday night for a 3-1 victory over UAF to wrap the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s regular season at the sold-out Carlson Center.
As their reward, the Seawolves won a return trip to the Golden Heart City for the first round of the league playoffs.
That was the upshot of UAF clinching the circuit’s No. 3 seed with Friday’s 7-2 victory and UAA clinching the No. 6 seed with Saturday’s rebound performance.
UAF will entertain UAA on Thursday and Friday nights, and, if necessary, Saturday night.
While the Seawolves redeemed themselves, they did not capture everything they hoped to hold Saturday. Their victory forged a 2-2 tie in the season series that doubles as the annual Governor’s Cup and that deadlock forced a post-game shootout that UAF won 2-1 in three rounds to retain the Cup, which the Nanooks have won for five straight seasons.
That ties the longest stretch of ownership in the 21-season Cup. UAF owns a 13-8 advantage all-time in the Cup, which it also won five straight times from 2002-06.
The last two classes of UAA seniors have never hoisted the hardware.
UAF seized the shootout on goals from Colton Beck and Colton Parayko. UAA’s lone goal came from senior Matt Bailey, who had a goal and an assist in regulation.
Still, the Seawolves (16-14-4), who snapped a season-worst, three-game losing streak, get another shot this week at the Nanooks (17-13-4), who lost their season-high, seven-game winning streak.
The teams split a series in Anchorage in December and split again in Fairbanks. Both series went the same way — the home team won the opener, the visitor won the rematch.
“Alaskans are getting their money’s worth in this rivalry this season,’’ UAA coach Matt Thomas said by text.
After Friday’s loss, Thomas said his team needed big performances to bounce back against the Nanooks, who entered Saturday with nine wins in their previous 10 games. He meant, in part, that UAA’s best players needed to be its best players.
That happened. Bailey opened the scoring with his team-high 18th strike less than three minutes into the game and Scott Allen delivered his 16th goal late in the period, roofing a shot on Sean Cahill (28 saves) off a Bailey assist.
UAF’s Garrick Perry cut the Nanooks’ deficit to 2-1 less than six minutes into the second period, but Allen snatched a UAF turnover later in the period and fed Brett Cameron for a 3-1 lead. Cameron scored in both games on the weekend.
And UAA senior goaltender Rob Gunderson stopped 30 shots, including all 13 from the Nanooks in the third period.
“He was lights-out,’’ Thomas said.
Thomas said Saturday’s victory should furnish the Seawolves confidence heading into the playoffs in the first season of the revamped WCHA.
“The most important thing was for us to prove to ourselves that we could win as long as we played our game,’’ Thomas said. “What matters now is how we show up next weekend. You play to give yourself a chance to continue playing and next weekend is all that matters now.’’
UAF wins shootout 2-1 to retain Governor’s Cup
UAA 2 1 0 — 3
UAF 0 1 0 — 1
First Period — 1, UAA, Bailey 18 (Coldwell, Hubbs), 2:37; 2, UAA, Allen 16 (Bailey), 14:09. Penalties — Kunyk, UAF (charging), 9:20; B. Morley, UAF (tripping), 16:53; Huysmans, UAF (cross-checking), 19:18; Coldwell, UAA (roughing), 19:18.
Second Period — 3, UAF, Perry (Atkinson, Huysmans), 5:41; 4, UAA, Cameron 9 (Allen), 15:57. Penalties — B. Morley, UAF (elbowing), 12:18.
Third Period — None. Penalties — UAA bench minor, served by Pettitt (too many men), 3:40; Huysmans, UAF (roughing), 10:13; Sevalrud, UAA (roughing), 10:13; Atkinson, UAF (interference), 15:56.
Shootout — UAF 2 (Beck G, Kunyk NG, Parayko G), UAA 1 (Allen NG, Bailey G, Tatchell NG).
Shots on goal — UAA 13-9-9—31. UAF 9-9-13—31.
Power-play Opportunities — UAA 0 of 4. UAF 0 of 2.
Goalies — UAA, Gunderson, 8-6-2 (31 shots-30 saves). UAF, Cahill, 9-4-1 (31 shots-28 saves).
A — 4,595 (4,595). T — 2:28.
Referees — Kevin Hall, Brad Albers. Assistant referees – Carl Saden, John conoy.
By DOYLE WOODY