MINNEAPOLIS — Erik Haula scored two goals and Kent Patterson stopped 16 shots as the Minnesota Golden Gophers held off a last-second attempt by Alaska-Anchorage.
With four seconds left, Alaska-Anchorage’s Daniel Naslund split the Gophers’ defensemen to put a point-blank shot on Kent Patterson. The puck ended up in the corner, but a penalty was called on Haula on the play. The ensuing faceoff went to the corner as time ran out.
“Right at the end there it was Naslund; I think it was (Jordan) Kwas that made a great pass in the middle of the ice to Naslund, and he was slashed on the play,” said Seawolves coach Dave Shyiak.
It was a valiant effort by the Seawolves that came down to the last second.
“Their goaltender played well, and they played well in front of him,” said Gophers coach Don Lucia on Anchorage’s effort.
“I thought our guys played great; we kept it a tight game. I thought our guys battled. Chris Kamal was great,” said Shyiak.
“They play a tough game,” said Haula. “It’s kinda frustrating playing against them. They are so defensive by nature. We were able to hang in there and get the win.”
After being dominated for most of the second period, the Seawolves closed the score to 2-1 with just two seconds remaining in the period on a power-play goal by Brad Gorham. The defenseman cheated in the back door on the play. Eric Scheid took the initial shot. The rebound went far side, where Curtis Leinweber turned around and threw it back across the goalmouth to where Gorham had the whole net to shoot at.
Kent Patterson had to make few big saves in the third, including one that was not a save. Patterson made a great pokecheck on a pass midway through the third. Scott Allen sat alone on the back door with no one within 20 feet.
Haula opened the scoring at 1:42 of the second on a partial breakaway. Nate Schmidt caught Haula with an outlet pass going up the left boards. Haula broke in on Kamal and ripped a shot far high corner. Haula’s momentum carried him hard into the boards.
“I think my line especially is really coming together; this time it was me, maybe tomorrow someone else,” said Haula.
The goal ignited the Gophers, as they dominated play.It was not until 8:37 of the second when Patterson made his first save of the period, a stretch where Minnesota outshot the Seawolves, 13-1.
“It was important for us to play with a lead tonight,” said Lucia.
Haula made it 2-0 on a questionable goal. Schmidt ripped a shot off the pipe and Jake Hansen crashed the net. The puck came straight out front 15 feet and found Haula’s stick. Haula wristed a shot over a sprawling Kamal. It appeared Hansen may have interfered with Kamal. The play was called a goal on the ice and was upheld.
“They agreed that he did get knocked down, but he would not be able to get across anyways to make the save,” said Shyiak. “The guy was flat on his back. I said, ‘So you’re guessing how quick he is when he is knocked down on his butt.’ I did not like the call; nothing we could do about it.”
A penalty marred the start to the game and resulted in neither team gaining any momentum. The teams combined for just three shots in the first seven minutes.
The game opened up a little in the second half of the first. Minnesota had the edge.
The Gophers players decided to die their hair blonde. Instate rivals Minnesota-Duluth did the same before the NCAA Tournament last year, a tournament the Bulldogs eventually won.
“Actually, the seniors and the captains decided this is what we are going to do, then we did vote on it, and this is what we ended up doing,” chuckled Haula on the new hairstyles.
Last year, the Seawolves swept Minnesota, 4-3 and 2-0, in the first round of the WCHA tournament.
“We want to get to St Paul; we want to get back to that environment,” said Lucia.
The teams face off at 7:07 p.m. in an elimination game for the Seawolves.