MANKATO, Minn. — It took Alaska-Anchorage nearly 58 minutes to challenge Minnesota State, and UAA still almost forced a tie.
But the Mavericks (4-8-3 WCHA, 8-11-4 overall) were able to hold off the late surge and beat the Seawolves 3-1 Friday night in front of 3,469 at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center.
The win separated the two teams in the WCHA standings. Heading into the game, both MSU and Alaska-Anchorage were tied with St. Cloud for seventh in the conference.
After MSU built a 2-0 lead through two periods, Alaska-Anchorage (4-12-1 WCHA, 6-16-1 overall) slowly began getting chances in the third period. With 2:08 left in the game, UAA called a timeout and pulled goalie John DeCaro from the net.
“We weren’t scoring any goals with five guys on the ice,” UAA coach Dave Shyiak said. “We thought we’d put six on.”
The gamble paid off. Chris Tarkir scored from in front at 18:31 of the third period to cut the lead in half.
The Seawolves nearly tied the games in the waning moments, but Charlie Kronschnabel was unable to redirect a pass from the right side of the net. Seconds later, MSU’s Travis Morin scored into the empty net to preserve the Maverick victory.
“They played hard. They battled back. I give them a lot of credit,” said Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting of the Seawolves.
The late start for Alaska-Anchorage eventually doomed the traveling Seawolves.
“They carried the play for two periods easily,” Shyiak said of Minnesota State. “We had no jump. They got to all the loose pucks and won the one-on-one battles.”
The Mavericks outshot Alaska-Anchorage 18-6 in the first and took a 1-0 lead into the second period.
The lone MSU goal of the period came at 16:10. Morin, a junior, stickhandled in the UAA zone and fired a quick shot from the slot, beating DeCaro over the goalie’s right shoulder. The goal was Morin’s team-leading 12th of the year. He would later add his 13th of the season with the empty-net goal.
“Travis is capable of doing what he’s doing,” Jutting said. That’s what I told the kids before we left for Christmas. ‘You have to contribute in the ways that you’re capable of contributing.’”
Minnesota State built the lead to 2-0 at 3:19 of the second. Sophomore Joel Hanson made a good individual effort by driving to the net and sliding the puck between DeCaro’s legs.
Meanwhile, Maverick netminder Dan Tormey was solid throughout the night. The freshman made 29 saves to collect his seventh career win and was less than two minutes shy of his second collegiate shutout.
“Just try and get one tomorrow night,” Tormey said of the lost shutout. “We got the win. That’s all we really care about.”
“He made some saves that were key for us,” Jutting said of Tormey.
Morin has also been solid for the Mavericks. The junior center has been a steady source of offensive output, scoring 7 goals and 13 points in his last 8 games.
“I’m feeling good out there and feeling confident with the puck,” Morin said.
“(Travis’) leading the charge here and doing well. Hopefully he keeps it up,” Tormey said.
Although UAA was unable to skate with the Mavericks for most of the night, DeCaro kept his team in the game. The senior goalie stopped 33 MSU shots.
“Johnny did a great job. He made some great stops when they were right on the doorstep,” Shyiak said.
The two teams will conclude the WCHA series tomorrow night with game time set for 7:05 p.m. C.T.