UAA’s young nucleus of players brought a lot of juice to the Seawolf Sports Complex on Thursday night, but Nebraska Omaha had enough young talent of its own — including an Alaska-grown goaltender — to hold off the Seawolves 4-3.
Mavericks freshman center Joey Abate scored the game-winning goal with four minutes left and freshman goalie Isaiah Saville of Anchorage stopped 19 shots to power the visitors.
All three of UAA’s goals came from freshmen, and five freshmen and two sophomores were among nine Seawolves who scored points.
Brayden Camrud’s second career goal gave UAA a 1-0 lead in the first period, Marcus Mitchell tied things 2-2 in the second period and Rylee St. Onge’s power-play goal made it 3-3 with a little more than five minutes left in the third period.
“Those guys are doing their job," UAA coach Matt Curley said. "You got career-first goals for Rylee St. Onge and Marcus Mitchell. … Troy Robillard got his first career college point from the blue line. Brayden Camrud scored again.
“I think those guys are coming along nicely and that’s not to excuse them from any of the mistakes they made along the way in terms of penalties and knowing their assignments."
UAA penalties led to two power-play goals for the Mavericks (4-1-0 overall). The Mavericks were 2 of 7 with the man advantage and the Seawolves were 1 of 4.
Omaha’s first goal, from freshman Bryan Scalene, and its third goal, from sophomore Taylor Ward, came on the power play.
“We talked about several things heading into this night against a good Omaha team in terms of their special teams,” Curley said. “They’ve been outstanding on the power play. We take seven unprovoked penalties and we get scored on twice.”
The Seawolves (1-3-0) owned the first period with their physicality and intensity and outshot Omaha 10-8. Omaha came back to outshoot UAA 22-12 over the final two periods and finished with a 30-22 shot advantage.
“I liked our guys’ response,” said Mavericks coach Mike Gabinet. “I thought we took the first period to get into it a little bit but we got better as the game went on. I thought we got our legs under us a little bit (and) realized how hard we have to play to be competitive.”
Besides the three freshmen who scored goals, UAA received assists from freshmen Robillard and Nick Wicks, sophomores Tanner Schachle and Jared Nash, junior Trey DeGraaf and senior Tomi Hiekkavirta.
A near-capacity crowd of 723 — the biggest in three games this season at UAA’s Chuck Homan Ice Rink — was treated to an exciting final 10 minutes. The teams combined for three goals, and after Abate’s even-strength goal gave Omaha the lead for good, UAA fired several shots on goal.
The Seawolves pulled sophomore goalie Kristian Stead (26 saves) for the final 1:24 but they couldn’t get a shot past Saville, who was drafted by the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the fifth round of June’s NHL draft.
“Obviously great for him to be at home in front of friends and family,” said Gabinet. “We’re excited for him and he had a real big save for us on the power play to keep it a tie game so he’s his usual self, which gave us a chance to win.”
The series, which continues Friday at 7:07 p.m., is a homecoming for Saville, who led the West Eagles to a 2015 state high school championship as a freshman before leaving Alaska to play junior hockey for three years.
“It was kind of like déjà vu playing on this rink again so it was really good to get that win here,” he said.