ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Ben Walter picked up where he left off from last weekend, scoring two goals, including the game-tying goal, as Mass.-Lowell team tied Miami 4-4 in the first game of the Nye Frontier Classic hosted by the University of Alaska Anchorage at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska.
The River Hawks (0-1-1) advanced to the Championship game of the tournament after winning the shootout, 4-2, and will play host UAA at 11:00 pm EST.
“Miami is a great team, they are going to win a lot of big games this season,” said head coach Blaise MacDonald after the game. “We knew that coming into this game. We said to the team ‘Hey, we’re gonna bend, but we won’t break. They are going to put a lot of pressure on us’. We stayed poised and in the present, and it helped us in the end.”
Miami (1-3-1) opened the scoring at 10:31 of the first period off a rebound tally from Marty Guerin. Linemate Derek Edwardson’s shot from the point was initially saved by Chris Davidson, however he could not control the rebound, and Guerin quickly pounced on the rebound and squeezed the puck underneath the pads of Davidson to give the RedHawks a 1-0 lead.
Momentum shifted at the end of the period when the River Hawks tied the game at one just before the first intermission. Danny O’Brien fed the puck up ice from the UML zone to Jason Tejchma at the RedHawk blueline. Tejchma made a beautiful one-touch pass to a driving Bobby Robins and Robins made the opportunity count, beating a Miami defender one-on-one, and then using his wingspan to put the puck past a sprawled Brandon Crawford-West in net, a power-play goal at 19:59. The RedHawks outshot the River Hawks in the first period, 16-5.
The River Hawks took the lead early on in the second period, scoring at 1:01. Elias Godoy tallied his first goal of the season after beating an out-of-position Crawford-West from the right side dasher.
The RedHawks tied the game at two midway through the second period. Taylor Hustead converted on the power play for Miami, sending a shot along the ice that beat Davidson at 6:43.
Walter gave the River Hawks the lead back at 19:08, scoring UML’s second power-play goal of the contest. Walter broke in from the RedHawk blueline after receiving a nice pass from Robins, fighting off a defender before beating Crawford-West to make it 3-2.
Miami rebounded in the third by tallying twice within the first five minutes and taking a 4-3 lead. Matt Christie tied the game at three after linemate Mike Kompon made a spectacular pass across the slot on a 2-on-1 to Christie along the left wing, and Christie buried his opportunity at 1:20. The power play gave the RedHawks their second lead of the game at 3:11, as Chris Michael converted on good puck movement low in the UML zone.
UML tied the game at four after Walter picked up his second marker of the game, wristing a shot high from the bottom of the right side faceoff circle at 6:21, UML’s third power-play goal of the game.
The RedHawks looked to have regained the lead once again at 7:55 on a bizarre play down low, however the referee ruled that there was no goal. The game went to overtime, and although both teams had quality opportunities to score, neither team came up with the win.
Davidson made 32 saves for UML, while Crawford-West stopped 18 attempts. The River Hawks cashed in on the power play, going 3-for-5, while Miami was 2-for-5 with the man advantage.
“We wanted to have fun with this game,” commented MacDonald. “We knew we were playing a tough team in Miami. Leading off with Niklas Storm in the shootout, we love that guy. He’s a grinder, the players love him, but clearly he’s not a prolific goal scorer (no goals in 56 career appearances). The team fed off of him scoring the first goal in the shootout.”
In the morning skate, the River Hawks ended practice with the usual shootout contest. O’Brien, MacDonald’s pick to win the morning contest, fell in the finals of the shootout to Walter, the only UML skater to not pick up a goal in the shootout.
O’Brien made amends during the game shootout, punching UML’s ticket to the Championship game by burying the final goal of the contest.