EAGLE RIVER, Alaska — The Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves opened their season by defeating the visiting Mount Royal College Cougars 6-4 Friday night in exhibition play at the Harry J. McDonald Memorial Center.
UAA senior Joe Garvin put the Seawolves on the board first at 3:55, burying a rebound from close quarters. UAA assistant captains Lee Green and Dan Gilkerson registered helpers on the play.
UAA briefly went up 2-0 at 7:27 on a 4-on-3 power-play goal from Vladamir Novak. Novak skyed a backhander to beat MRC netminder Tyler Motz over the stick side. MRC countered just 10 seconds later when Lanny McConnell beat first-period UAA netminder and Eagle River native Kurt Johnson in a 4-on-4 situation with traffic in front.
UAA freshman Matt Hanson finished the first period scoring at 12:25 with a power-play slapshot from just inside the MRC blue line.
The Cougars rallied in the second to pull even with the Seawolves 3-3 on goals from McConnell at 7:57 on the power play and Jay Hamel at 11:31. Arguably the prettiest goal of the evening, Hamel’s was courtesy of Travis Churchman. Churchman stole the puck at the UAA blue line and, against the flow of traffic, he and Hamel quickly broke in 2-on-1. Churchman lifted his pass over the defender’s stick and Hamel gathered it in and fired to beat UAA goalie Chris King, who played the middle frame, low to the glove side.
Confronted with a hockey rarity, MRC netminder Motz stood his ground and denied Novak on a penalty shot at 11:35 after the Cougar defense was called for covering the puck in the crease during a pileup around Motz. UAA overcame the missed opportunity to break the deadlock at 17:39 when Peter Chytka scored on a one-timer. Assists went to fellow Czech Republic linemates Novak and Martin Stucklik. Stucklik stepped up in the absence of junior forward Dallas Steward, who sprained his knee in practice on Wednesday.
UAA opened the third period with the eventual game winner from sophomore John Hopson, who followed a teammate’s shot to the net and backhanded the rebound home. At 7:22 Garvin got his second of the night after collecting a long up-ice pass from defenseman Matt Shasby. Showing offensive confidence, Garvin broke in on the left side, chose to keep the puck himself, and beat Motz off his stick.
MRC’s Seth Carlyle finished the scoring at 12:04 when he kicked a centering pass off his skate and then drove the puck past netminder Kevin Reiter. Assists went to Hamel, his second on the night, and to Sean Green.
Despite being outshot in the period 11 to four the Cougars hung around in the third, challenging to the buzzer with physical play and pulling their goalie for a 6-on-4 opportunity for the final 27 seconds.
UAA matched the physicality and skated away with the victory, outshooting MRC 38-17 for the game.
Both teams next face the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks. MRC travels to Fairbanks for the Cougars’ ninth and last exhibition game in a Saturday matchup. UAA hosts its intrastate rival next Friday and Saturday in Anchorage for the opening series in the annual Governor’s Cup.