MINNEAPOLIS — The Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves exploded for three third-period goals to beat No. 12 Minnesota 4-2 at Mariucci Arena Saturday nigth.
The third period started with a flurry as both teams traded early punches.
Minnesota’s Tom Pohl missed an empty-net tap in, hitting the far post three minutes in that would have put the Gophers up 3-1. It was a pipe that proved to be very costly for the Gophers.
“It would have been a different game if that would have gone in,” commented Minnesota head coach Don Lucia on the critical turning point.
After the miss by Pohl the Seawolves took over. Kevin Clark answered with a one-timer from inside the circles a minute later that was saved by Jeff Frazee, but at 6:04 Peter Cartwright scored on a 2-on-1 rush with Chris Tarkir to tie the game at 2.
Clark gave UAA its first lead of the weekend at 7:53 on a backhander. The play was set up by a backhand pass from Josh Lunden that found its way through the defense. Clark reached out and flung the puck on net past Frazee.
The lead was extended to two goals when Brad McCabe tipped a wrister from Kane LaFranchise from the left-side wall at 10:02.
“We were just trying to get shots on net and traffic in front,” said Cartwright on the team’s efforts.
For the remainder of the game Minnesota had a few close chances but was not able to sustain pressure in the Seawolves’ zone. The Gophers and crowd had no energy.
“Its a pretty good feeling when 10,000 people aren’t talking,” commented Cartwright on silencing the Gopher crowd.
“Beautiful sound [or lack thereof], isn’t it,” said Alaska-Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak.
“They played a very good road game,” remarked Lucia. “We are not good enough to win consistently without that [the sense of urgency the Seawolves had].”
Jay Barriball opened the scoring at 10:58 on a tap-in from the left of the goalmouth.
The puck was kept in the zone and backhanded towards the net by Cade Fairchild, and it deflected off a defenseman in front of the net and found Mike Hoeffel in the right circle. Hoeffel passed accross to Barriball for the tap-in.
LaFranchise scored his first career goal to tie the game at 1 at 15:56 on a screen play. Peter Cartwright won the faceoff in Minnesota’s zone and fed the puck back to LaFranchise, who wristed the puck through traffic on net past Frazee.
In the second period, Minnesota’s first few shifts were dominant as Okposo and Patrick White had near-misses thwarted by UAA netminder Jon Olthuis.
The Minnesota outburst was short-lived, though. As the period progressed it took on a more physical complexion, as Minnesota’s Stu Bickel used his 6-foot-3 frame to bring cheers to the crowd three times on one shift.
Despite Bickel’s shift the Seawolves started to control the body and the play during the middle part of the period.
At 13:52 Luka Vidmar of the Seawolves was called for checking from behind on hit to Pohl, giving him the automatic game misconduct. The Seawolves almost killed the major off unscathed until Okposo put a pool-cue shot off the inside corner of the post with nine seconds left.
The period ended with a staredown between Peltier and Clark after Clark was called for tripping at 19:35.
Next weekend Minnesota heads to the state of Michigan taking on Michigan State on Friday and Michigan on Saturday in the College Hockey Showcase, while the Seawolves play host to Colorado College.