On the verge of a big upset, the third period unraveled for the UAA hockey team on Friday night.
The Seawolves led by one goal in the third period before surrendering four unanswered goals in a 5-2 loss to No. 7 Minnesota State at Sullivan Arena.
UAA was doomed by its penalty kill. The Seawolves (1-14-4 overall, 1-9-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) allowed three power-play goals and a breakaway goal by the Maverick's C.J. Suess, who scored the go-ahead goal in the third period.
Suess received the puck after a faceoff and raced down the ice at full speed, uncontested, for a goal that put Minnesota State (15-6-0, 13-4-0) up 3-2.
"A faceoff in the offensive zone and somehow we give up a breakaway," UAA coach Matt Thomas said. "We should have at least two guys above that guy.
"You can't make that type of a mistake in a 2-2 game. That was the dagger for sure."
Despite the lopsided score, which included an empty-net goal by the Mavericks, the game was close.
The first period couldn't have gone much better for UAA. A team that often starts slow, UAA killed two Minnesota State power plays and took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Tad Kozun.
Senior defenseman Jarrett Brown received the puck at the top of the right circle and fired it inside to Kozun, who smashed in his fourth goal of the season.
The second period started with a scary moment when UAA goaltender Olivier Mantha was leveled at the net and was down on the ice for a brief period. But UAA's three-time MVP got up and skated around for a bit before returning to his spot in the goal.
The Mavericks tied the game late in the period when Minnesota State winger Parker Tumoie fired a shot from straight on in the closing seconds of a power play.
The teams went into the locker room tied 1-1.
UAA took the lead again in the third period on a shorthanded goal by Nils Rygaard – his first of the season – for a 2-1 UAA lead.
Things started unraveling when Minnesota State tied the game again on a power-play goal by Jake Jaremko seven minutes into the period. The Seawolves couldn't recover from the Suess goal minutes later.
Mantha recorded 34 saves to 16 for Minnesota State's Jason Pawloski.
It was the first game for UAA forward Alec Butcher, who transferred to UAA last spring from Sacred Heart, a Division I hockey team in Connecticut. The senior from Anchorage didn't score but had a couple of solid chances.
The teams return to the ice Saturday night at Sullivan Arena.
"I thought our game plan in terms of what we needed to do against them was solid," Thomas said. "I thought for the most part we executed (but) we gotta work hard for 60 minutes.
"We fell asleep for a shift there and that cost us."