Seawolves’ stellar third leads to series split with Minnesota

Alaska-Anchorage scored three goals in under four minutes to grab Saturday’s win.

Brian Deutsch

Relaxed wouldn’t be the right word to describe the Minnesota men’s hockey team Saturday night as the Gophers took the ice for the third period, but they undoubtedly were feeling confident.

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Michigan State
what: Men’s Hockey
when: 6:00 p.m., Friday
where: East Lansing, Mich.

A night after blanking Alaska-Anchorage 3-0, Minnesota was up 2-1 against the Seawolves with just 20 minutes left to play.

Unfortunately for the Gophers, (7-5-0 overall, 3-5-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) Alaska-Anchorage would only need about four of those remaining minutes as the Seawolves netted three unanswered goals in a span of 3:58 to capture their first conference win of the year with a 4-2 victory.

“I thought Anchorage was stronger on the puck. They did the things they wanted to do (Saturday),” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. “They deserved to win the game.”

After Friday’s loss, Alaska-Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak stressed the importance of “setting the table for the third period” by keeping it close in the game’s first 40 minutes.

“When you play on the road, you want to keep it tight early and win it late,” Shyiak restated after Saturday’s win.

One way the Seawolves (4-3-3, 1-3-2) were able to keep it close was to nearly shut down Minnesota’s power-play unit.

The Gophers were just 1-for-11 over the weekend, getting a power-play goal during the second period Saturday from sophomore forward Kyle Okposo – his fifth of the year.

But, as Minnesota’s play on the advantage was sub-par, the team was perfect when killing penalties, successfully eradicating six offenses over the weekend including just one in Saturday’s loss.

Fischer’s first

For sophomore defenseman David Fischer, the wait is over.

The Apple Valley, Minn. native finally recorded a collegiate goal during the first period Friday when he lifted a shot from the point that beat a screened Olthuis high on the glove side.

“It’s been like a year and a half since I’ve scored a goal, so I had to take advantage of it,” Fischer said. “To watch that twine snap in the back of the net, it’s a pretty special feeling to score a goal in this building.”

Fischer had been held without a goal in his first 52 games at Minnesota.

Minding the net

Junior netminder Jeff Frazee said he wasn’t trying to post a shutout Friday night, he just wanted to maintain the Gophers’ lead.

“I knew it was going to be a close game,” Frazee said. “Their goaltender played really well, really solid the whole game. I just wanted to keep our team up by a goal at minimum.”

But Frazee exceeded his own goals for the game, stopping 24 shots on goal to record Minnesota’s first shutout of the season.

“I didn’t think we tested him,” Shyiak said. “We didn’t threaten their cage like we were capable of (doing).”

The Burnsville, Minn. native has four career shutouts in 40 starts with the Gophers.

Game notes

• Saturday’s loss marks the first time this year that Minnesota has lost a game in which it has scored more than one goal.

• The Seawolves’ win is just their second ever against Minnesota, but the team has won two of its last four games against the Gophers dating back to last year.

• Alaska-Anchorage has not been swept in a series this season even though Saturday’s win snaps a five-game winless skid.