DULUTH, Minn. — Getting a victory in December was on Minnesota Duluths mind Saturday night.
The Bulldogs don’t play again for 27 days; they have no holiday tournament and only a home exhibition Friday against the U.S. Under-18 team before their schedule resumes Jan. 4 against Bemidji State.
No. 16 UMD needed a win for a number of reasons; to maintain third place in the WCHA standings, to remain in the PairWise Rankings computer top 10 and to break a winless streak.
However, last-place Anchorage had other ideas and got three straight third-period goals from center Paul Crowder to rally for a 5-3 win before 4,282 at the DECC.
Before the game, Crowder was moved from the first line to the fourth line and responded with his first collegiate hat trick.
“Duluth’s a good team, and we knew we had to come out strong or we’d be stuck in the basement of the WCHA, and we didn’t want that,” said Crowder, whose Seawolves pulled into a ninth-place tie with St. Cloud State, which lost to Denver 3-2 Saturday. “The third period on the road seems to be our strength.”
Anchorage (5-5-4, 2-5-3 WCHA) has achieved both of its league wins on the road; the Seawolves scored three third-period goals to beat Minnesota 4-2 on Nov. 17 and came up with four goals in Saturday’s final 20 minutes.
UMD (6-6-4, 5-6-3) led 1-0 and 2-1 early in the third period, then let the game slip away despite outshooting Anchorage 32-26. It was the Bulldogs’ first home loss of the season (4-1-2), and they’re 0-2-2 in their last four games.
Crowder, a sophomore from Victoria, British Columbia, scored into an open net on a power play at 3:14, at even strength following a UMD defensive lapse with 8:16 to play and short-handed with 5:09 remaining for a 4-2 lead.
“We have trouble getting leads and, when we do, we sit back and don’t play with any urgency,” said UMD winger Michael Gergen, who had the game’s first goal. “It’s happened too many times. We don’t step on the throttle, we don’t go for the throat. When you get the lead, you have to take advantage of that and keep going.”
Andrew Carroll’s dribbler 1:58 into the third period put the Bulldogs up 2-1, but Anchorage connected just 76 seconds later and didn’t let up.
Winger Mike Curry was called for roughing 37 seconds after Carroll’s goal, putting Anchorage on a power play, and Crowder started his hat trick.
“We get the lead, then took a dumb penalty and that was the turning point of the game, plain and simple,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “Anchorage works hard; they finish their checks and they’re tremendous at faceoffs. We got our butts kicked on faceoffs.”
Defenseman Jason Garrison scored for UMD on a power play with 53 seconds to play after goalie Alex Stalock was pulled, and Anchorage center Craig Parkinson added an empty-net score with two seconds left on a Crowder assist.
After going 1-7-2 the previous 10 games in Duluth, Anchorage left 1-0-1 for the series.
“We were actually lucky to get out of the first period down just 1-0, and then we just kept plugging away and putting pucks on the net,” Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak said. “Despite our record, there hasn’t been any quit in this team.”
UMD scored the only goal of the first period on a hustling play by left winger Gergen. He forced the puck free along the right boards of the offensive zone and went straight to the net to beat Olthuis with 7:20 left.
Anchorage got even with the only goal of the second period to make it 1-1. Defenseman Luke Beaverson’s shot hit off a body in front of the UMD net, and winger Merit Waldrop converted the rebound at 8:39.
UMD was in a good spot after Carroll’s go-ahead goal, but it didn’t stand up for long.
“All weekend we struggled with shifts right after scoring a goal,” UMD defenseman Josh Meyers said. “We were playing with no emotion. We were sloppy defensively. We gave them every one of their goals.”
The Bulldogs return to league play Jan. 11-12 at home against Minnesota State-Mankato.
Kevin Pates covers Minnesota-Duluth for the Duluth News-Tribune in Duluth, Minn.