DETROIT — Seven turned out to be an unlucky number for Wayne State as visiting Alabama-Huntsville snapped the Warriors’ seven-game winning streak against them with a 5-2 win Saturday night at the Great Lakes Sports City.
Freshman goalie Scott Munroe earned his second win of the season, stopping 28 WSU shots. Wayne State senior netminder David Guerrera made 23 saves at the other end. Alabama-Huntsville senior Karlis Zirnis scored a pair of goals while Detroit-area native Keith Rowe scored what proved to be the game-winner early in the third period in a penalty-filled, chippy College Hockey America game.
“Just like last night, this game could have gone either way,” said UAH head coach Doug Ross. “Last night they got the lucky breaks and the lucky bounces and tonight they went our way. We came out hungry and we got a great performance out of Munroe.”
Wayne State (4-6-0, 1-3-0 CHA) got on the board just 1:43 into the opening period. Chris Vail was denied by Munroe from in tight, but Vail got the puck back and fluttered a pass to senior defenseman Marc St. Jean, who settled the puck and ripped a hard drive over Munroe’s glove for his third goal of the season.
Zirnis then knotted the game at 1-all only 32 seconds later at the 2:15 mark. Sophomore Jared Ross broke in on Guerrera, then dished off to Zirnis, who beat Guerrera stick-side from the bottom of the left faceoff circle for his fourth tally of the year.
But WSU sophomore Nathan Rosychuk scored on a pretty breakaway 19 seconds later at 2:34. Rosychuk walked in on Munroe from the Alabama-Huntsville blue line, made two dekes and then backhanded a shot through Munroe’s pads for his first goal of the season and a 2-1 lead.
Alabama-Huntsville answered once again as Todd Bentley scored his first collegiate goal at 10:13 to tie the game at 2-2. Wayne State senior co-captain Keith Stanich slid across the ice to break up a Bruce Mulherin pass, but the puck bounced off Stanich’s stick right to Bentley, who went high for the goal.
“I was very nervous coming in, and it showed in the first five minutes,” Munroe said. “We wanted to get the split and once we got the two goals back in the first, I relaxed a lot more and settled down. The guys in front of me responded and we went from there.”
Wayne State also had to play a man short as senior Max Starchenko was given a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for checking Alabama-Huntsville’s Doug Watkins from behind less than three minutes into the game.
The second period, though scoreless, was Wayne State’s undoing.
“Our power play was very ineffective tonight, especially in the second period,” said Wayne State head coach Bill Wilkinson. “We had a 5-on-3 and a 4-on-3 and came up empty. Dave played well enough in goal to keep us in it, but we just couldn’t beat their goalie. Munroe had to play a great game to beat us and that’s exactly what he did.”
Rowe scored his third goal this year on a breakaway at 1:52 of the third period to make it 3-2 Chargers (3-7-0, 2-2-0 CHA). Rowe, left alone at the WSU blue line, took a pass up the boards from senior forward Steve Milosevski and went in untouched on Guerrera.
Zirnis added his second of the evening at 4:20 on a great individual effort. Wayne State couldn’t clear the zone and Zirnis picked up the loose puck, danced around defenseman Tyler Kindle and beat Guerrera five-hole with a quick wrist shot.
Senior Jason Hawes capped the scoring for UAH with his first of the year, an empty-net goal at 19:37.
“It was a great game last night; Wayne State got the big win in overtime and they’ve beaten us the past two years in the playoffs,” Ross said. “You don’t forget things like that and it makes winning here tonight that much more gratifying.”
Wayne State will now regroup before heading up to Michigan Tech for a pair next weekend. Alabama-Huntsville hosts Niagara next weekend in CHA play.