MADISON, Wis. — John Hill had an idea it was going to take three goals for his Alaska-Anchorage players to beat Wisconsin. He was right.
Hill had an idea that the Seawolves’ best-of-three first-round WCHA playoff series would go three games, and he wanted goaltender Chris King to be rested for the third game. He was right.
Hill had an idea his team wasn’t going to win two straight games at the Kohl Center, but that the Seawolves could win two games. He was right.
Chris Fournier and Curtis Glencross each scored two goals Sunday, leading eighth-seeded Alaska-Anchorage to a breakthrough series victory with a 4-1 win over Wisconsin in Game 3 of the series.
The Seawolves (13-21-3), who just a season ago were 1-28-7 and just a few days ago were 0-22 all-time in the WCHA playoffs, are headed to the Final Five next weekend. They’ll face Colorado College in Thursday night’s play-in game, with the winner going up against North Dakota in Friday’s semifinals.
“I don’t even know if I can put into words how I feel,” said Hill, who has been through plenty of ups and downs in his long history with the Seawolves, first as a player, then an assistant coach and now the head coach.
“Personally — I don’t want to come out selfish — I’m probably the happiest guy on Earth at this moment. This is a first for our program, and I think anyone who was here would say that this is no fluke.”
King made 29 saves for the Seawolves (13-21-3). But it was the Seawolves’ 1-2 punch that made the difference.
“Our best players were our best players tonight,” Hill said. “And in important games, that is very critical.”
Fournier scored the first two goals and Glencross added the next two in the second period as UAA jumped out to a 4-0 lead and burst the Badgers’ bubble. Fournier and Glencross both have 32 points for the season.
Wisconsin (21-12-8) forced the deciding game with a 4-0 victory on Saturday, a game in which it dominated the Seawolves.
“It’s intense,” Glencross said. “We made club history. The Seawolves never made it to the Final Five before — never won a playoff game before — and we came out tonight knowing we could play better than we played last night. Chris King is hot right now.”
King, who made 45 saves in earning a 3-2 victory in Game 1 on Friday, wasn’t tested as often on Sunday but still made the critical saves at critical times.
“That’s what you need in the playoffs, a goalie like that,” Wisconsin forward Ryan MacMurchy said of King. “I don’t know what to say about him. He played really well.”
The Badgers remain in contention for a spot in the NCAA tournament. The selections will be announced next Sunday.
“That’s not much consolation now,” Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves. “There’s a lot of red eyes, especially from the seniors. But there’s hope.”
Bernd Bruckler stopped 19 shots for the Badgers, who fell to 2-1 in third games in the first round. Andrew Joudrey scored for Wisconsin in the third period.
Wisconsin outshot the Seawolves 92-40 in the first two games of the series, but that category was much tighter on Sunday. The Badgers held a 30-23 shots advantage.
Fournier put UAA ahead 1-0 midway through the first period, beating Bruckler with a wrist shot from the right side on a drive up ice.
Wisconsin had a great chance to tie the game in the second period with two power plays in quick succession, but the Badgers didn’t convert.
Twenty seconds after the second power play ended, Fournier put the Seawolves ahead 2-0 after stealing the puck from Wisconsin’s Robbie Earl in the Badgers zone.
“It was definitely a little bit heartbreaking,” MacMurchy said of the turnaround. “It was a big-time goal for them.”
Glencross scored a pair of goals six minutes apart later in the second period for a 4-0 lead.