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UAA hockey team ends bad season on a good note

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: February 25
  • Published February 25

The UAA hockey team found a good way to end a bad season.

In their final game of the season, the Seawolves completed a weekend hockey sweep of the rival Nanooks by beating UAF 3-2 Saturday in Fairbanks.

The two Western Collegiate Hockey Association victories at the Carlson Center — UAA won 5-3 on Friday — represent half of the Seawolves' wins this season.

"Great win by our team," UAA coach Matt Thomas said in a press release from the school. "To come on the road and get the sweep is a nice finish to our season. Proud of the effort and the execution."

Just as they did on Friday, the Seawolves (4-26-4 overall) jumped to an early lead to chase UAF goalie Anton Martinsson, who gave up two goals on two shots in the game's first five minutes.

Nicolas Erb-Ekholm scored the first goal for UAA, and 40 seconds later Austin Azurdia made it 2-0. Alec Butcher assisted on both goals, with Nils Rygaard recording a helper on the goal by Erb-Ekholm and Tanner Johnson getting one on the goal by Azurdia.

Johnson, a senior defenseman, scored his first goal of the season in the second period to extend UAA's lead to 3-0.

UAF (11-20-3 overall) outshot the Seawolves 43-26, but UAA goaltender Olivier Mantha capped an excellent four-year career by making 41 saves.

Mantha, a senior from Quebec, will leave his mark on the UAA record book. He made a school-record 3,449 saves, including 946 this season, one shy of the single-season record set by Paul Krake in 1990-91. Mantha ranks first in career save percentage (.908), fourth in career goals-against-average (3.01) and sixth in wins (28).

The only goal Mantha surrendered Saturday came late in the second period from Zach Frye, who scored during a scrum in front of the UAA net. Frye added an empty-net goal late in the third period.

Niko DellaMaggiore, who replaced Anton Martinsson in goal, finished with 23 saves for the Nanooks.

UAF, which was 4-2 against UAA this season, secured the WCHA's eighth and final playoff spot in the WCHA with 30 points, three more than ninth-place Lake Superior State.

The Nanooks will hit the road this week for a best-of-three series against WCHA regular-season champion Minnesota State (26-7-1 overall) beginning Friday in Mankato.

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