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Victory at last: UAA hockey team nips Tech

Doyle Woody

The Seawolves' 14-game winless streak is dead, slain by a remarkable, improbable comeback generated, of all places, on the road.

UAA, which entered Friday night averaging less than two goals per Western Collegiate Hockey Association game and without a league road win -- not to mention a win of any kind since Dec. 1 -- stormed back from a three-goal deficit to shock Michigan Tech, 5-4, in Houghton.

Blake Tatchell delivered the game-tying goal with about two minutes to go, Jordan Kwas was credited with the game winner inside the last minute and goaltender Rob Gunderson shined in relief at MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

All that from a last-place team that was 0-11-3 in its previous 14 games, all in the WCHA -- a club that Friday trailed 2-0 in a hockey heartbeat and 4-1 late in the second period in front of a crowd jacked up for Houghton's annual Winter Carnival.

"It's been a long time coming, we feel like,'' Kwas said by cellphone from Houghton.

Kwas said the comeback came despite a flu bug that has hit several players, including himself.

"It's going through the team,'' he said. "I feel terrible. We're just setting up shop here at the hotel, trying to sweat it out.''

Beyond Gunderson's 36 saves on 38 shots and his fourth career assist, the fingerprints of UAA's top scorers were all over the Seawolves' three-goal third period against Huskies freshman goaltender Phoenix Copley (24 saves) of North Pole.

Trailing 4-2 nearly seven minutes into the third period, Kwas cashed in on the power play off an assist from Matt Bailey to cut the Huskies' lead to 4-3. With 2:09 left, Tatchell's partially-fanned shot from the left wing leaked through Copley's five-hole for a 4-4 tie. Then Scott Allen's shot with 45 seconds left deflected off Kwas' left glove for the winner.

And so the 14-game winless streak, the fourth-longest in the program's 34 seasons, is history. Now the Seawolves own a season-best, three-game unbeaten streak (1-0-2).

Kwas furnished three points in the third period to tie his career single-game high and extend his point streak to five games. Tatchell's one goal and two assists marked a single-game career high in points for the Seawolves' leading scorer. And Bailey's goal and assist kept him on a roll of late.

The Seawolves (4-16-7, 2-15-6 WCHA) have been storming back a lot lately. Last week, they scored with less than four minutes left in regulation of a 2-2 tie with visiting Colorado College, and the next night Bailey struck with just 73 seconds left in regulation on the way to a 3-3 tie with CC.

Friday's three-goal third period came from a UAA team that in 14 of 22 previous WCHA games scored two goals or less in the entire game.

The game started miserably for UAA, with Michigan Tech (8-14-4, 5-12-4 WCHA) getting goals from Aaron Pietila and Ryan Furne 64 seconds apart inside the opening six minutes to chase Seawolves starter Chris Kamal (four saves).

Bailey countered with a goal midway through the first period, but Huskies defenseman Steven Seigo answered on the power play before period's end to restore Michigan Tech's two-goal edge at 3-1. The three goals were the most UAA has surrendered in a first period this season.

Michigan Tech's Jacob Johnstone scored on the power play two minutes into the second period to boost the home team's lead to 4-1.

UAA's comeback began late in the second period when Daniel Naslund struck on the power play off a helper from Tatchell.

 

Seawolves notes

Kwas owns 3-5--8 totals in his current five-game point streak.

Tatchell leads the team with 7-14--21 totals in 27 games. Kwas checks in second at 9-9--18 in 26 games and Bailey is third with 6-11--17 totals in 27 games.

The 44 shots UAA surrendered were the most they have allowed this season. Also, Michigan Tech's 19 shots in the second period were the most UAA has given up in a period this season.

UAA is 1-8-2 on the WCHA road this season.

UAA's penalty killing continues to struggle. The Seawolves' opponents have scored 13 times on 33 power-play opportunities (39.4 percent) in the last nine games.

In a weird stat, both the Seawolves and Huskies went 2 for 2 with the man advantage.

Michigan Tech's live stats on its website correctly listed "Alaska Anchorage'' as the opponent, but sported the UAF Nanooks' logo of a polar bear.

 

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.

 

UAA 1 1 3 -- 5

Michigan Tech 3 1 0 -- 4

First Period -- 1, MTU, A. Pietila 2 (Rix), 4:28; 2, MTU, Furne 4 (Gordic, Sweeney), 5:323, UAA, Bailey 6 (Williams, Gunderson), 10:42; 4, MTU, Seigo 6 (D. Johnstone, Petan), 18:30 (pp). Penalties -- Warner, UAA (tripping), 17:37.

Second Period -- 5, MTU, J. Johnstone 1 (Kero, Fillion), 2:00 (pp); 6, UAA, Naslund 4 (Tatchell, Leask), 17:25 (pp). Penalties -- Warner, UAA (holding), 1:31 Nielsen, MTU (interference), 15:49.

Third Period -- 7, UAA, Kwas 8 (Bailey, Gellert), 6:58 (pp); 8, UAA, Tatchell 7 (Kwas), 17:51; 9, UAA, Kwas 9 (Allen, Tatchell), 19:15. Penalties -- Khaira, MTU (roughing), 3:45; Crowell, UAA (roughing), 3:45; D. Johnstone, MTU (roughing, 3:45; Currier, UAA (roughing), 3:45; Kero, MTU (slashing), 5:43.

Shots on goal -- UAA 7-8-13--28. MTU 15-19-10--44.

Power-play Opportunities -- UAA 2 of 2. MTU 2 of 2.

Goalies -- UAA, Kamal, (6 shots-4 saves); Gunderson, enter 5:32 1st period, 2-7-4 (38-36). MTU, Copley, 5-10-1 (28 shots-24 saves).

A -- 3,542 (4,466). T -- 2:20.

Referees -- Derek Shepherd, Marco Hunt. Assistant referees -- Tony Czech, Dan Juopperi.

 

 

 

 

Woody on Hockey
By DOYLE WOODY
dwoody@adn.com