Through two and one half periods, it looked as though the Minnesota men’s hockey team was headed to St. Paul for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five.
What a difference one shot can make.
Alaska Anchorage freshman winger Josh Lunden evened the score a one to force overtime, then junior defenseman Luke Beaverson scored 5:45 into the extra session to beat the Gophers 2-1 at Mariucci Arena Saturday.
The best-of-three first round series is now tied one game apiece.
Minnesota barraged Seawolves goalie Nathan Lawson with quality scoring chances for two periods, but only managed four shots on goal in the third period and overtime combined.
“We outplayed them for the first 40 minutes and they outplayed us in the last 25 minutes,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said.
Freshman center Kyle Okposo notched his 18th goal of the season at 15:34 of the first period. It was the only score Minnesota could muster in the contest.
The rest of the scoring opportunities ended with Lawson coming out on top. He recorded 25 saves and kept Alaska Anchorage in a position to win.
“(Lawson) played tonight with a chip on his shoulder,” Seawolves coach Dave Shyiak said.
“That’s part of it – a good goalie gives you a chance to win,” he said.
For the Gophers, the loss marks a consistent trend they’ve been unable to shake during the second half of the season: playing a full sixty minutes of hockey.
“We’ve got to play smart hockey,” senior goalie Kellen Briggs said. “Under five minutes we’ve gotta get the puck deep and have no turnovers.”
Failing to do so allowed Alaska Anchorage to earn its first win against Minnesota in 10 postseason meetings.
“We had a tremendous effort tonight – gutsy, heart and character,” Shyiak said. “(During) five-on-five (play) we were the better team tonight.”
1st 2nd 3rd OT — T
Seawolves 0 0 1 1 — 2
Gophers 1 0 0 0 — 1
1st: UMN: Okposo-18 (Stoa-12, Kaufmann-5); UAA: no scoring
2nd: NO SCORING
3rd: Lunden-11 (Clark-9, Backstrom-9)
OT: UMN: no scoring; UAA: Beaverson-5 (Kronschnabel-6, Bourne-21)
Briggs: (L 15-7-2) 26 saves
Lawson: (W 10-14-2) 25 saves
Alaska Anchorage: 13-20-3
Bill Mason (referee), Dan Carey (Linesman), Ed Moberg (Linesman)