MINNEAPOLIS — Alaska-Anchorage freshman goaltender Chris Kamal earned his first career shutout as the Seawolves blanked Minnesota 1-0 on Saturday to split the weekend series.
“We gutted it out; we got some great goaltending by Chris Kamal,” said Seawolves coach Dave Shyiak. “A total team effort. Just a good solid character win against a very good opponent.”
Going into Saturday’s game, the diminutive Seawolves goaltender Kamal had struggled (1-3-1, .831 save percentage, 4.13 GAA). Kamal held his team together in the second, turning aside 16 shots.
The effort was a major turnaround from Friday. The Seawolves allowed five goals the night before .
“We made some better reads.” added Dave Shyiak. “We made some adjustments to our forecheck, depending on puck position. We wanted to be aggressive when we could get the puck; if not we wanted to make sure we had numbers back.”
Matt Bailey broke the scoreless tie at 1:18 of the third on a two-on-one rush. Bailey beat Kent Patterson blocker side just inside the pipe.
The goal gave Alaska-Anchorage renewed life. They were skating hard, beating Minnesota to loose pucks and generating numerous scoring chances. It was a different game. The Seawolves outshot Minnesota 10-4 halfway through the third.
“I just wanted our guys to throw pucks at the net; he squeeked one through, (and) it was a big goal obviously,” remarked Shyiak.
Minnesota dominated the early second period. Point blank shots from Jay Barriball, Jacob Cepis, Jake Hansen, and Nick Larson were all stuffed by Kamal.
“We had a lot of good looks; we had 16 shots,” said Gophers coach Don Lucia. “We had a lot of plays around their net. We couldn’t get it in. Their goaltender played really well.”
Halfway through the period, the Gophers had outshot the Seawolves 11-1. The Seawolves could not get the puck out of their own zone. It was almost déjà vu from Friday night, where the Gophers rotated the puck on the perimeter and found the shooting lane.
The key difference was the score. Friday night, Minnesota scored as they entered the zone. Saturday, the Gophers were holding the zone and getting great chances, but were not capitalizing on their pressure.
The first period action was much tighter than Friday night. The Seawolves managed to slow Minnesota down
in the neutral zone, forcing the Gophers to play dump and chase.
“They kept four guys back all night; in the first period, we did not adjust to it real well,” said Lucia.
The best scoring chance for either team came with two minutes left in the period when Bailey was hit with a pass as he split the defenseman and came on Patterson on a breakaway. Bailey attempted to lift the backhander over Patterson’s pads, but could not finish the rush.
Next weekend, Alaska-Anchorage plays host Michigan Tech while Minnesota heads to Minnesota-Duluth.
Video: Alaska-Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak:
Video: Minnesota coach Don Lucia: