GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Alaska Anchorage added to North Dakota’s trials at home by erasing a two-goal deficit with a goal late in the third period to tie the Fighting Sioux 3-3 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
“All year long, our guys have been resilient, and tonight was no different,” said UAA coach Dave Shyiak . “I don’t think we panicked when it was 3-1. I think we were a little bit tight in the first period, but then when we bucked down we started playing our game and continued to play physical and put pucks in the net.”
UAA junior forward Merit Waldrop scored at the 16:53 mark of the final period to gain the tie and Seawolves junior goalie Nathan Lawson withstood UND’s attack down the stretch and through overtime to preserve it.
“To have a two-goal lead for a fair majority of the game and let them back in it and let them squeak a point out on us, it’s definitely deflating and feels like a loss,” said Sioux sophomore forward Ryan Duncan, who scored two goals. “But you’ve got to forget about it, take some positive out of this game and come back strong tomorrow.”
UND coach Dave Hakstol spent the week talking about how the Sioux needed to get better at home where they are now 4-7-2 three of those wins coming in the first two weeks of the season. But the tie didn’t sit well with him.
“Time is out,” Hakstol said. “One point tonight is one point, but with our situation, it’s not a point that we’re satisfied with, obviously.”
Despite the return of forward Jonathan Toews and defensemen Taylor Chorney and Brian Lee from the World Junior Championships in Sweden, the best UND could do was hang on for the tie. Duncan’s two goals and a three-point game by junior defenseman Robbie Bina the first of his career weren’t enough to overcome the tenacious Seawolves.
Although the tie kept sixth-place UND (10-11-2 overall, 6-9-2 WCHA) one point ahead of UAA (10-10-3 overall, 6-10-1 WCHA) in the league standings, Bina found the result less than satisfying.
The Seawolves got the start they needed just 2:05 into the game. Freshman center Paul Crowder’s centering attempt from behind the UND net was blocked by the Sioux defense, causing the puck to bounce high into the air.
Everyone but freshman forward Josh Lunden appeared to lose track of it. When the puck
landed in the slot directly in front of the crease, Lunden banged it in past UND goalie Philippe Lamoureux to give UAA a 1-0 lead.
The quick goal off a bad bounce took the crowd of 11,042 out of the game, and the Seawolves seemed in good shape to take their lead into the intermission.
However, late in the period just as a UAA penalty expired, Duncan skated out of the corner and across the bottom of the right circle. He walked around a Seawolves defenseman and roofed a wrister past Lawson’s glove to tie it 1-1 with 1:38 left.
With the two teams skating four-on-four, Bina carried the puck the length of the ice and behind the UAA net. He stepped out front and fed a wide-open Duncan who fired the puck into the open net with 14 seconds left in the period. Duncan’s second goal of the game was his team-leading 16th of the season.
UND went up 3-1 with a power play goal at the 11:24 mark of the second period. During a scramble in front of Lawson, Sioux sophomore forward Brad Miller found the puck to the left of the goal and fired it in short side.
The momentum-changing play of the game came with the teams skating four-on-four, UAA cut the margin to one on an unassisted goal at 16:28 by sophomore defenseman Mat Robinson. Robinson took the puck away from UND senior captain Chris Porter as he attempted to dangle at UAA’s blue line. Porter hooked Robinson as he went in on Lamoureux, but the puck bounced off Robinson’s skate and slid in under the sprawling goalie.
“Breakaways don’t come very often for defensemen,” Robinson said. “I’ve got to say that it was my first one in a very long time, but I was happy to get it.”
“We allowed a good team to get some renewed life and get back in the game,” Hakstol said. “It was a good play on their part. That was a little bit of a turning point.”
UAA scored the game-tying goal with 3:07 left through hard work that led to a costly turnover in the Sioux zone. Following a flurry of shots, Lamoureux attempted to cover the puck in the crease, but it tricked behind him where Waldrop alertly knocked it in.
“The last goal, we have a couple of opportunities to get it out of the zone and we don’t get it out of the zone and we turn it over right in the slot,” Lamoureux said. “On top of that, we gave up five or six shots in that scrum and that’s just not acceptable when you have a one-goal lead.”
Lawson made his biggest and best save of the night when, with less than a minute to play, Toews hit forward T.J. Oshie with a perfectly executed backdoor pass. But the UAA goalie got across and made a pad save on the point-blank scoring chance.
None of UAA’s goals were pretty, but they all counted. Shyiak called them “garbage goals,” and made no apologies for how they were scored.
“I’ll give credit to our guys,” he said. “We fought hard from a two-goal deficit in a tough building. Our guys showed a lot of character, a lot of heart. There was no quit in our team tonight and I was proud of our effort.”
Lawson had 28 saves on 31 shots and Lamoureux stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced. The Sioux were 1-3 on the power play while the Seawolves went 0-3.
The two teams meet Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in Engelstad Arena for the second game of the series.