DULUTH, Minn. — If Alaska-Anchorage was going to break a seven-game winless streak at the DECC on Saturday night, it certainly needed more goals than in the previous nine games this season.
The Seawolves, averaging 1.7 goals a game in going 1-7-1 since Nov. 12, managed just enough offense in a WCHA victory in front of 4,842 fans.
Freshman goalie Nathan Lawson also turned in a second straight stellar performance as Anchorage beat Minnesota-Duluth 4-2 to finish the four-game season series with a 3-0-1 edge. The Seawolves had been 0-5-2 recently in Duluth.
Lawson had 42 saves, and stopped 123 of 126 in three games against UMD this season. Tim Stapleton had both UMD goals as the Bulldogs outshot the Seawolves 44-20.
In Anchorage’s last series, No. 2-ranked Colorado College beat the Seawolves 6-1 and 7-2 and Lawson was replaced halfway through the second game.
“When you let in 13 goals in a game-and-a-half, it’s ridiculous. I was bad,” said Lawson. “I went back to work with our goalie coach and was ready to play again. I thought the key tonight is we blocked a lot of shots (20).”
UMD (8-10-4 and 6-8-2 in the WCHA) never led in the series, including Friday’s 1-1 tie, and is now 3-10-3 the past 16 games. Getting 89 shots on goal in two nights wasn’t much consolation for the Bulldogs.
Saying they ran into another hot goalie is getting redundant, but it was the case against Anchorage (7-9-2 and 5-8-1).
“We get 44 shots and two goals, I have to give (Lawson) credit. He was unbelievable,” said Stapleton. “There’s nothing else you can really say. He was the main reason they won the game. Sure, not winning is getting old. Everyone’s getting sick of it.”
Three points on the weekend moved Anchorage into seventh place in the WCHA, just three points behind UMD.
Anchorage got off to a good start Saturday, scoring on the game’s first power play, at 7:09 of the first period. Center Matt Hanson, a converted defenseman, put in his own rebound from the right edge of the net as UMD’s T.J. Caig was off for slashing Lawson. Anchorage was 3-of-49 with a man advantage in the previous eight games, and 0-for-17 in the last four.
Falling behind continued a pattern for UMD which has seen the opponent score first in 18 of 22 games.
UMD led 12-9 in shots in the opening period and had a bundle of scoring chances. Winger Bryan McGregor had an opportunity at the crease, while on his knees at 9:45, and Caig hit the crossbar with 4:16 left.
The Bulldogs did get even at 8:52 of the second period as Stapleton put a backhand shot from the left circle through Lawson’s legs.
The shots continued to mount in the period as UMD had a 14-5 advantage, yet a defensive Anchorage team managed to regain the lead. Scoring leader Justin Bourne, who had Friday’s Seawolves goal, got loose on a breakaway, finally gaining control of the puck halfway into the UMD zone. He caught goalie Isaac Reichmuth coming up ice and went around him for his eighth goal of the season with just 29 seconds left.
A minute earlier, Reichmuth had made a good point-blank stop on Anchorage winger Ales Parez.
“We knew that there was no way Duluth was going to be held to just one goal again. We knew we’d have to score three or four,” said Anchorage coach Jack Kowal, filling in for head coach John Hill, who is recovering from back surgery. “I challenged some of our guys to play better and they did. And our goalie gave us a chance.”
After facing a barrage of shots early in the third period, 15-1 in attempts, Anchorage managed to turn the tide briefly and coverted on another breakaway. Nick Lowe scored at 5:26 for a 3-1 lead.
UMD’s first power-play goal of the series cut it to 3-2 at 8:14. Stapleton’s second goal of the night, and ninth of the season, came as he slammed in the puck from the left edge of the crease.
Center Charlie Kronschnabel of Mendota Heights, Minn., Anchorage’s top forward of the night, added an empty-net goal with less than a second to play to go along with three assists.
“Their goalie was better than ours and they took advantage of mistakes. That was the difference,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin.
The Bulldogs remain home this Friday and Saturday against St. Cloud State.
Kevin Pates covers college hockey for the Duluth News Tribune.