MADISON, Wis. — Alaska-Anchorage stepped on the Kohl Center ice Saturday determined to prove a point, and left with a 3-2 victory. The win gave the Seawolves four victories in their last five games at Wisconsin.
“I’m happy for our guys,” Anchorage coach John Hill said. “I think they felt today that there was a lack of respect for them. People are going to start to respect this program.”
The Seawolves found motivation Saturday from a tape-delayed viewing of Friday night’s game, and showed it on the ice.
“Hey, we got back to the hotel last night, we watched the television game and I’m listening to (Wisconsin public television analyst) Rob Andringa talking about how Wisconsin can’t get up for UAA, Wisconsin doesn’t respect UAA,” Hill said. “I don’t know where he gets off saying that. And if he did any research he would have seen that up there in the first game of the year we were outshooting them 26-2 at one point. They were lucky to get a point in Anchorage. So, maybe he should do some research next time when he starts talking about respect.
“Well guess what? Respect this: we beat them 3-2. We took five out of eight points on the season series. So if anybody wants to talk about lack of respect, they better not throw it in our face.
“For people to not want to respect this program, I just think it is a slap in the face. Because anyone who comes and watches us play, nine out of ten nights, they see a team that gives 100 percent. And it bothers me. And to be quite honest with you, I was angry all day today. I wish I could have had a shift tonight.”
The Seawolves asserted themselves throughout the game, using their speed and aggression to control the tempo for much of the contest.
Wisconsin countered with some tenacity of its own but may have lost its cool in the third period before losing the game.
Anchorage’s victory, however, came along with plenty of controversy and was marred by a post-game brawl that included almost every player on both teams and resulted in 118 minutes of penalties and three game disqualifications for each team.
With the score tied 2-2 early in third period, Anchorage sophomore wing Dallas Steward put a shot on net from the circle that glanced off Badger freshman goaltender Bernd Bruckler and trickled across the goal line. The puck clearly crossed the line and the goal judge turned on the light to signal the tally.
However, referee Derek Shepherd blew the whistle before the puck crossed the line. After conferring with the goal judge via a headset, Shepherd reversed his call, putting Alaska up 3-2 at 1:30 in the third.
“Clearly the whistle blew before the red light came on,” Sauer said. “You can see it on the replay. You can clearly see that he signals stoppage of play and a faceoff in the defensive zone. His explanation to me was that the whistle doesn’t matter. That is all he said to me, and that is not right. It shouldn’t be a goal. I’m not disputing the fact that after the whistle blew the puck was in the net.”
The Badgers appeared to have a hard time getting the call out of their heads the rest of the game. Much as Alaska had the night before, Wisconsin seemed to worry more about the officials than the game.
“We lost focus because we were trying to get Shepherd to give us an explanation of the goal,” Sauer said.
Both teams had complaints relating to the officials icing calls throughout the game.
“There have been some icing calls not just this weekend but this season. I think they can do a better job,” Hill said. “Some of these have got to be waved off, and some times we are gaining the red line and they are calling icing.”
Then, with the Badgers attempting a late rally, a linesman waved off icing with 17 seconds remaining and Wisconsin was not able to work the puck back into the offensive zone.
“I thought there should have been a whistle on an icing right before the end of the game,” Sauer said. “That was disappointing.”
As the horn sounded, Wisconsin players took umbrage at Seawolf center Steve Cygan continuing to skate with the puck and began shoving. As players began to file onto the ice for the post-game handshake, the mayhem began.
In little time, the benches cleared and nearly 40 players had grabbed a partner. Well after the game ended, gloves, jerseys, sticks and helmets lay strewn about the ice. When that settled, 118 minutes of penalties were doled out and six players were given game disqualifications.
For Wisconsin, sophomore forward Jake Heisler and defensemen Jon Krall and Brian Fahey will be ineligible next Friday against Colorado College. The Seawolves will be without three of their top forwards: seniors Mike Scott and Gregg Zaporzan and sophomore Vladimir Novak.
“I just think it was frustration on their [Wisconsin's] part — they were frustrated they lost the game, and started crosschecking,” Hill said. “We didn’t skate away. Do I wish we would have? Yes. But we didn’t, and at that point all heck broke loose. I’m just glad that no one got injured. Both teams showed a lack of discipline.”
“I still don’t know how this all started,” Sauer said. “I wasn’t concerned about looking at that, I was concerned about looking at the goal.
“It is a very difficult situation. You have the end of the game. both teams are on the ice. You have 40 hockey players on the ice, you’ve got problems.”
“It just became a mess because everyone was right there on the ice,” Heisler said. “We were really frustrated to lose that game because that would have put us right around third place.”
“It’s ugly and it is not what anybody wants,” Hill said. “We certainly don’t; it is not what our team is about and our program is about, but we are not going to let anyone beat up any member of our team and stand by and watch.”
The fights and the Seawolves’ tenacity may have been partly in response to additional comments made Friday night. In response to a question regarding the ejection of Anchorage defenseman Matt Shasby from Friday night’s game, Wisconsin defenseman Dan Boeser said that Shasby “is their best defenseman … but he is nothing special.”
“I don’t know if it is inflammatory,” Sauer said. “It is a comment made by a player.”
“We look at their team as a whole,” Heisler said. “They are a good club and if one guy gets taken out we don’t look at it as changing very much.”
When asked whether such a comment about one of his teammates would elicit a similar response, however, Heisler replied, “Yeah, maybe.”
Heisler scored two goals in 28 seconds in the second period to give the Badgers a 2-1 lead. Anchorage tied the game and regained momentum just 14 seconds into the third period on a power play when Shasby put a wrist shot on net from the point that got past Bruckler.
“We wanted to get a quick shot on net. Right before we went out I told Matt that through 40 minutes of hockey he didn’t have a shot on net, and that was unacceptable,” Hill said. “Let it go. And you know what, he threw it on net, five-hole, goal.”