DES MOINES, Iowa — Nothing was settled in regulation time between Wayne State and Alabama-Huntsville in their CHA quarterfinal Friday night.
That was pretty much par for the course after the two teams split their regular-season series and only had a one-goal differential in those four games.
Overtime was back and forth until Grant Selinger ended it at 8:39 to give UAH a 4-3 win and advance to face top-seeded Niagara in Saturday afternoon’s semifinals.
Selinger’s goal came 1:45 into a Tylor Michel slashing penalty and completed an improbable comeback for UAH, who trailed 3-0 early in the second period and pulled freshman goaltender Blake MacNicol for senior Marc Narduzzi.
“It’s not like (MacNicol) was playing badly,” UAH assistant coach Lance West said. “Wayne State was winning all the battles, everything. Then we get a goal from our fourth line and I think that got us going. I know how Wayne State feels, because they’ve done this to us, but tonight we just got the breaks.”
Dominik Rozman’s two goals at 1:48 and 4:14 of the third period tied the game and started the rally for the Chargers after Tom Train got UAH (11-19-3) on the board at 11:46 of the middle frame.
Dan Iliakis (15:27) and Jason Baclig (19:14, power-play) scored first-period goals for the Warriors (12-21-2) and Iliakis’ second goal 7:23 into the second period chased MacNicol.
“We had all the momentum and then they changed their goalie,” said WSU head coach Bill Wilkinson. “Then we turned the puck over in the neutral zone and they make it 3-1. Going into the third, we had a 3-1 lead and you hate to see a lead like that dissolve, but it did. We certainly had our opportunities, including a five-on-three in the third period, but what haunted us early in the season haunted us tonight and that was lack of scoring.”
On the game-winner, David Nimmo started the play that resulted in a freebie for Selinger.
“Nimmo found a shooting lane that we hadn’t really had all night,” said West.
“(Nimmo) shot the puck from the half wall and it came right to me back-door and I was able to poke it in,” said Selinger, a co-captain for the Chargers. “We haven’t won in OT in a while, so we were due. If you watch our games, you’ll know we always start down, but come out in the third period. We’ve always been a third-period team.”
WSU senior goalie Will Hooper made 34 saves, while MacNicol and Narduzzi combined for 31 on the Alabama-Huntsville end.
Alabama-Huntsville snapped an 18-game winless streak in overtime with the victory.
The Chargers know they still have a rough road ahead, but aren’t showing any signs of worry. Their confidence is booming and they won’t have much time to bask in this win.
“We just played Niagara last week, so we’ve seen them and know what they’re about,” West said. “But if we come out and play the way we did the first 30 minutes tonight, forget about it. We need to forget about this and tomorrow, come out smart and play 60 minutes.”
Last weekend in Huntsville, the Chargers beat and tied the Purple Eagles, but with the tie, NU wrapped up the regular-season championship and the tournament’s No. 1 seed.
“We know we can play with (Niagara), but we’re on a high right now and we need to get on an even keel,” added Selinger. “It’s only a 15-hour turnaround time, so we need to get some rest and come out strong tomorrow.”
Game time is 2:00 CST Saturday.