MANKATO, Minn. — Alaska-Anchorage’s defense powered the Seawolves (5-3-1 overall, 3-1-1 in the WCHA) to a 3-1 victory over Minnesota State-Mankato on Friday, as they got two goals from two defensemen and held the Mavericks to 16 shots total.
The Seawolves also got stellar goaltending from freshman Chris King, who stopped 15 of the Mavericks’ 16 shots on net. King was aided by a defense that blocked numerous shots and held the Mavericks (4-7-0 overall and in the WCHA) to four shots in the third period.
“They’re a great defensive hockey team,” MSU-Mankato coach Troy Jutting said. “We just didn’t get the puck to the net like we needed to.”
Jutting was also mad at his team’s lack of discipline. “We took penalties at untimely times, and that hurt the flow of our game,” he said.
The first period was filled with tight defense and three power plays for each team. However, neither team was able to find the back of the net.
MSU had a good chance 11 minutes into the period when freshman Tim Jackman came in on a two-on-one with sophomore Jerry Cunningham. Jackman passed the puck to Cunningham, who one-timed the pass, but King was there to make a sprawling kick save.
The Seawolves’ best chance of the period came on the power play with five minutes left in the first. Junior Gregg Zaporzan kept the puck himself on a two-on-one and fired the puck at net. MSU goaltender Eric Pateman was there for the save, hanging on to the rebound.
Alaska-Anchorage was able to get on the scoreboard 8:21 into the second period. Seawolves sophomore Dan Gilkerson passed the puck from the top of the right faceoff circle to wide-open defenseman Chris Sikich, who fired the puck past a diving Pateman.
UAA held the Mavericks without a shot throughout the first 12 minutes of the period. But MSU’s first shot of the second also turned out to be its first goal. Cunningham flew past the Seawolves’ defense on the right side, cut past the goalie, and put the puck in the left side with a backhand shot. The goal, which was unassisted, knotted the score at 1.
The Mavericks almost gained the lead a minute later when forward Shane Joseph had a point-blank chance on King. King was able to snag the puck, and the period ended with both teams tied at 1.
Alaska-Anchorage came out flying in the third and tallied early at the 1:46 mark. Defenseman Matt Shasby passed from behind the net to fellow defenseman Corey Hessler, who wristed the puck past Pateman. The goal, which was the eventual game-winner, was also Hessler’s first point of the season.
“Our forwards were changing, and [Shasby] went down below the line,” Hessler said. “I just came in, and I was open. I don’t know where any of their guys were. He just gave me the puck and I scored.”
Mankato was shut down the rest of the period by an overwhelming Seawolves’ defense. The Mavericks sustained little pressure, even on a power play with seven minutes left. Both teams were ineffective on the power play, with MSU going 0-for-5 and UAA going 0-for-7.
“I thought they did a very good job on the penalty kill,” Jutting said. “But we were also trying to be too fancy.”
Junior Mike Scott put the game away for UAA as he tallied an empty-net goal with 16 seconds left in the game. With their goalie pulled, MSU got a chance to score as senior Jesse Rooney took a shot from in front of the net. The shot was blocked by the Seawolves defense, and Scott pounced on the puck. He went down the ice all alone and put the puck in for his third goal of the year.
Seawolves coach Dean Talafous was proud of his team’s play.
“They’ve been working hard all year,” he said, “and tonight was pretty typical. But this is what we’ve come to expect of our team. Tonight we worked, and we were rewarded.”
Hessler was very happy with King’s play.
“King’s playing great. He’s quick, and he makes brilliant saves. He’s a great guy to have behind you.”
The teams will finish their series Saturday night with the puck set to drop at 7:05 Central.