The Western Collegiate Hockey Association is unforgiving on overtime victims – no post-regulation pity point awarded in the standings on this circuit.
That proved just one of UAA's shortcomings Saturday night, when it absorbed a 3-2 piercing by Lake Superior State in extra time that doubled as the Lakers' first win in 10 games this season.
At night's end in Sullivan Arena, the Seawolves were left to ponder problems that included another sloppy team performance, a zero-goal weekend from its forwards, too many passengers in its lineup, abundant turnovers and a power play that couldn't muster a threat when it mattered most.
And all that came after Friday's 3-2 win in which the Seawolves, by their own admission, were not very good.
"We were worse tonight than we were last night,'' said UAA coach Matt Thomas, incredulous. "Disappointed. I don't know what the problem is. We're not a very good team right now.''
Even though UAA is 4-2-2 overall and 1-1-0 in the WCHA, Thomas said his team – and granted, it is fairly young -- has been outplayed in four straight games and five of the last six. That's worrisome. The only consolation is the 34-game regular season, which includes a 28-game league schedule, is still young.
For the Lakers (1-9-0, 1-5-0 WCHA), victory was sweet relief. They are facing a week off and the prospect of starting the season with 10 consecutive losses was grim. But they blew out of town on a scheduled red-eye in the wee hours Sunday morning in high spirits.
"It's nice, especially on the road,'' said Lakers junior center Bryce Schmitt, who opened the scoring and closed it. "We've got a week off, so this helps. Hopefully, this turns the tide.
"We've been looking for some help from the hockey gods, and we got it.''
Schmitt set off the celebration for the visitors by banging in a Nathan Harris rebound at 1 minute, 51 seconds of overtime.
"(The puck) was literally just sitting there and I just whacked it,'' Schmitt said.
The Seawolves forced extra time with less than three minutes left in regulation when senior defenseman Austin Coldwell buried a one-timer from the right point to deliver a 2-2 tie. UAA's other goal came in the second period from freshman defenseman Tanner Johnson, who joined the rush, took a pass in the slot from defenseman Chase Van Allen and wristed home his first college goal to cut the Lakers' lead to 2-1.
UAA's five goals on the weekend came from five different defensemen, and that's good news for a club that seeks more offense from the blue line. UAA already has nine goals from defensemen in eight games, a serious escalation from last season's 12 goals from defensemen in 38 games.
By contrast, UAA's forwards did not furnish a goal in 122 minutes of play on the weekend.
Thomas tried all manner of tactics to get the forwards going.
He moved senior Brett Cameron from center on the second line back to right wing on the first line with junior center Blake Tatchell and senior left wing Scott Allen. He double-shifted that line in the third period, when he also on a couple of occasions double-shifted the line of freshmen Tad Kozun and Matt Anholt and sophomore Dylan Hubbs. He mixed and matched other combinations. And on a power play to start the third period, he used the unusual combination of three defensemen – Coldwell, Van Allen and Jarrett Brown – and two forwards – Tatchell and Allen.
"It was a search for the spark, and we didn't get it,'' Thomas said.
The spark in the early going belonged solely to the Lakers. Schmitt scored 18 seconds into the game to finish a 4-on-2 rush and defenseman Aidan Wright scored on a wrister from the left point inside the 15-minute mark. The Lakers outshot the Seawolves 12-4 in the opening 20 minutes.
Thomas pulled freshman goaltender Olivier Mantha (10 saves on 12 shots) after one period, and the yanking was as much as reflection on the play of Mantha's teammates as the two leakers he surrendered.
"We were terrible,'' Thomas said. "We gave up a 4-on-2, then a point shot with no one there to block it.
"At the end of the day, you have to earn it. Right now, we have too many guys who show up and expect (good things to happen).''
Red-shirt sophomore Michael Matyas took over for Mantha and stopped all 12 shots he faced before Schmitt buried the decisive rebound.
UAA carried the third period, outshooting Lake Superior 12-1, but didn't test Lakers freshman goalie Gordon Defiel (23 saves, first college win) until Coldwell's game-tying goal.
Lake Superior coach Damon Whitten loved that his team didn't crumple after giving up the late goal.
"We could sag, we could pack it in, so I give our guys credit for battling,'' he said.
While the Lakers rejoiced, the Seawolves reflected on what went wrong for them.
"Obviously, after a weekend like that, there are questions to be answered,'' Tatchell said. "The first answer is, show up for every opponent. You can't take anyone lightly.''
Presumably, that won't be a problem next week, when the Seawolves travel to play a series against league-leading Michigan Tech (6-0-0, 4-0-0 WCHA) and stay in Michigan for a WCHA series the following week at Ferris State.
Coldwell's goal extended his point streak to four games. He owns 3-1—4 totals in that span.
Van Allen, a sophomore, leads the Seawolves in scoring with 1-7—8 totals in eight games. The eight points match his output in 30 games as a freshman.
Tatchell ranks second among UAA scorers with 1-6—7 in eight games, and Coldwell (3-3—6 in eight games) and Cameron (1-5—6 in seven games) are tied for third.
UAA went 0 for 3 on the power play, snapping a string of three straight games with a power-play goal.
The Lakers came up empty on four power-play chances and all eight on the weekend. They have converted on just 3 of 43 power plays this season.
LSS 2 0 0 1 3
UAA 0 1 1 0 2
First Period – 1, LSS, Schmitt 2 (Nardi, Dommett), :18; 2, LSS, Wright 1 (Correale, Perfetto), 14:31. Penalties – Sandler, LSS (tripping), 3:52; Anholt, UAA (roughing), 19:34.
Second Period – 3, UAA, Johnson 1 (Van Allen, Friesen), 2:50. Penalties – Perfetto, LSS (roughing), 10:19; UAA bench minor, served by Coldwell (too many men), 16:59; LSS bench minor, served by Miller (too many men), 20:00.
Third Period – 4, UAA, Coldwell 3 (Docken, Cameron), 17:11. Penalties – Tatchell, UAA, double-minor, served by Conti (slashing, roughing), 1:26; Van Allen, UAA (roughing), 1:26; Dommett, LSS (roughing), 1:26; Renz, LSS (roughing), 1:26; Allen, UAA (goaltender interference), 12:52.
Overtime – 5, LSS, Schmitt 3 (Harris), 1:51. Penalties – None.
Shots on goal – LSS 12-10-1-2—25. UAA 4-8-12-1—25.
Power-play Opportunities – LSS 0 of 4. UAA 0 of 3.
Goalies – LSS, Defiel, 1-6-1 (25 shots-23 saves). UAA, Mantha (12 shots-10 saves); Matyas, enter 0:00 2nd period, 1-1-1 (13-12).
A – 2,048 (6,251). T – 2:23.
Referees – Peter Friesema, Butch Mousseaux. Assistant referees – Carl Saden, Dan Colliander.