HOUGHTON, Mich. — Looking to earn a split on the road, the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves needed 25:24 and a defensive breakdown to earn the lead and the win over the host Michigan Tech Huskies at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Despite two lengthy five-on-threes in the second period, the Huskies (2-4-0 overall, 1-3-0 WCHA) couldn’t find the equalizer, falling 2-1.
“We dug deep with a power-play goal to get back within one,” said Huskies’ Coach Jamie Russell. “(But when) they had their chances, they converted.”
Winger Kevin Clark broke into the Huskies’ zone and found winger Josh Lunden cutting to the net with a saucer pass over the defender’s stick. Lunden, in free and clear on Huskies’ goalie Rob Nolan, made a quick move to his backhand to get around Nolan and put the puck in the net for his fifth of the year. Centerman Brian Bales also assisted on the game-winning tally 5:24 into the second.
The first period featured a pair of squads who seemed content to feel each other out. The Seawolves (5-2-1 overall, 2-1-1 WCHA) had the game’s first power play, but the Huskies did everything right to keep the Seawolves from earning the early lead.
“I thought we did some awfully good things,” said Russell. “The penalty kill was good with the two kills.”
With their first power play of the game, the Huskies had numerous chances to take the lead. Freshman forward Brett Olson had three chances to stuff the puck in from goaltender Bryce Christianson’s right side, but couldn’t find daylight. Assistant captain Geoff Kinrade fed Olson for a one-timer shortly after, but Christianson was there again to make one of his 11 saves in the period.
“I thought (Bryce) was the difference in the game,” said Seawolves’ Coach Dave Shyiak. “You need your goaltender to come up with big saves, and he obviously did.”
After the Seawolves took the 1-0 lead, the Huskies had two outstanding opportunities to tie the game with five-on-three advantages of 1:21 and 1:50, but couldn’t solve Christianson either time.
In the first advantage, the Huskies twice worked the puck out to Kinrade off of feeds from senior winger Malcolm Gwilliam, but each time Christianson was right where he needed to be. To make matters worse, junior defenseman Drew Dobson fired wide just shortly after Kinrade’s second chance.
The Huskies couldn’t get anything going on the second two-man advantage.
The Seawolves jumped all over the Huskies to start the final frame. Assistant captain Paul Crowder fed winger Tyler Moir on a drive to the net just seconds in, but Nolan made one of his 15 saves of the game by sprawling across his crease.
Christianson had to be ready when the Huskies came calling just over a minute later when sophomore center Eric Kattelus found senior winger Derek Kitti with a quick pass, but Kitti’s long blast was gloved.
Winger Tommy Grant netted his third goal of the weekend and eighth of the season just 3:42 into the third. After sneaking his way to the net unnoticed, Grant took a pass from Crowder and redirected it past Nolan.
On their seventh power play of the night, the Huskies finally struck gold when sophomore winger Jordan Baker picked up a pass to Christianson’s left and roofed the puck over the sprawling netminder at 12:37 of the third. Junior defenseman Drew Dobson fed a pass from junior defenseman John Kivisto down to Baker. The goal was Baker’s fourth of the season and first on the man advantage.
“Drew made a nice pass down to me, the goalie went down and I found the back of the net,” said Baker. “We just need to capitalize on our chances (on the power play).”
With 3:25 left, the Huskies nearly evened the game when junior winger Ryan Bunger crashed into Christianson with wild abandonment, but couldn’t manage to squeeze the puck into the net.
Russell used his time out with 1:45 and pulled Nolan shortly after, but the Huskies couldn’t quite find the back of the net, as Christianson stood strong between the pipes, making three of his 29 stops in the last 55 seconds.