MADISON, Wis. — Alaska-Anchorage coach Matt Thomas expected No. 13 Wisconsin to be a little sharper than his team early in Friday’s game.
The Badgers returned from the holiday break with a sweep of Alabama-Huntsville last weekend, while the Seawolves hadn’t played since Dec. 14.
A shot block, a breakaway and an early goal changed all of that, and the Seawolves carried the play in a 3-2 victory at the Kohl Center.
Scott Allen’s goal 37 seconds into the game set the tone and Alaska-Anchorage fed off the energy throughout.
“We knew the start was going to be important,” Thomas said. “Obviously, we didn’t draw up a 1-0 lead a minute in but it’s always nice.”
Alaska-Anchorage ended Wisconsin’s winning streak at six games, snuffed out the Badgers’ home unbeaten streak to start the season at 10 games and beat Wisconsin in Madison for the first time since 2005.
It was the Seawolves’ first true road win of the season after five losses and a tie, and it put another upset in the trophy case in Thomas’ first season leading the team.
The Seawolves are 4-1 against ranked teams, previously beating Quinnipiac, Denver and Lake Superior State.
“I was trying to tell the younger guys it’s just another hockey game,” Seawolves junior co-captain Brett Cameron said. “It might be a bigger atmosphere and a higher-ranked team but at the end of the day it’s a hockey game.”
Badgers coach Mike Eaves saw his team fall to 2-5 this season when it is outshot, and he said he saw the Seawolves (9-8-2) out-everything his team.
On the stats sheet, the Badgers (10-6-1) attempted more shots (57-52), but the Seawolves got more on net (29-28) and blocked more than Wisconsin did (18-11).
“They were better (than) us the whole game in terms of winning races, being strong on their stick, puck battles,” Eaves said. “They just dominated us.”
It started on the first shift when Cameron blocked a Jake McCabe shot and turned on the speed to create a breakaway.
Wisconsin’s Frankie Simonelli disrupted Cameron’s shot attempt, but as he carried the puck toward the left corner the Seawolves winger spun and fed Allen for a quick shot past Badgers goalie Landon Peterson, who was out of position and had lost his stick on a poke-check attempt on the breakaway.
“That kind of deflated them and the crowd, so that put us in a good spot right off the bat,” Cameron said. “That was huge for us because we haven’t played in a while and they played last weekend.”
Wisconsin’s Tyler Barnes tied the game early in the second period on the first of two Badgers power-play goals, but Ben Matthews and Blake Tatchell scored later in the period to push Alaska-Anchorage’s lead to 3-1.
Tatchell’s goal came with 1:25 left in the second period and after the Badgers killed a Seawolves five-on-three power play.
Wisconsin didn’t get the kind of bounce that normally comes from a penalty kill at a key point in the game.
And Tatchell got a nice bounce of his own, collecting the rebound of his own power-play shot after Wisconsin’s Mark Zengerle blocked it, then firing the puck back at the net with Peterson still recovering after reacting to the original shot.
“When you’re doing things right,” Thomas said, “usually you get good bounces.”
Wisconsin pulled within one with 5:28 left in the third when Zengerle scored on a power play, but goaltender Chris Kamal (26 saves) and the Seawolves defense shut the door from there.
“We got outworked tonight,” Zengerle said. “It’s not really part of our culture here at Wisconsin. We pride ourselves on hard work, and they outworked us tonight.”
The Seawolves, meanwhile, took some time to enjoy the victory, with “Timber” by Pitbull and Ke$ha pouring out of the door of their Kohl Center locker room.
In his postgame talk with his team, Thomas said that Wisconsin had already started preparing for Saturday’s rematch and the Seawolves needed to do the same.
“But I’ve got a rule: You have to celebrate your victories,” Thomas said. “You have to get excited about it because that’s why we’re in this thing.”