ANCHORAGE – Junior goaltender Olivier Mantha furnished 40 saves in the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves’ 4-3 victory over the visiting Minnesota State Mavericks in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game at the Sullivan Arena on Friday evening.
The Seawolves (6-16-5, 5-11-5 WCHA) ended a five-game winless streak and broke a six-game losing streak to the Mavericks (15-10-4, 11-8-4 WCHA) with their fifth Friday-night win. UAA collected three points with the ‘W’ to remain tied with Northern Michigan and keep its playoff hopes alive.
Mantha, from La Tuque, Quebec, stood on his head for most of the game, keeping the Mavericks off the board for almost 40 minutes. MSU outshot the Seawolves 43-17, improving Mantha’s season numbers to a .914 save percentage and a 2.78 goals-against average. He hasn’t faced 40+ shots since November.
The night started when freshman David Trinkberger picked up his first career goal, 18 seconds after the UAA power play had expired, giving the Seawolves a 1-0 lead. Senior Dylan Hubbs centered to sophomore Nils Rygaard, who bobbled it off his foot to Trinkberger for the wrister at 13:52.
The Seawolves, who are now 5-0-3 when scoring first and leading after the first period, made it a 2-0 game in the second with sophomore Nicolas Erb-Ekholm’s first collegiate, power-play goal at 16:34. Picking up UAA’s first man advantage strike since Jan. 13, Erb-Ekholm skated the puck in after junior Austin Azurdia fished it off the boards. Azurdia was able to skate the shift after receiving a bone-chilling cross check that resulted in the Seawolves’ power play.
Despite Mantha’s best efforts, the Mavericks ended the shutout with 31 seconds left in the frame. Scoring on its 29 shot of the game, MSU got on the board with a shot from the point. Sophomore Daniel Brickley collected a drop pass off the faceoff and fired a wrister passed a screened Mantha.
Meanwhile, the third period saw the teams trade off on tallies. Sophomore Mason Mitchell was set up nicely from junior Matt Anholt and junior Tad Kozun at 9:58, before Sean Flanagan once again closed the gap to one with a deflected shot from the point at 10:48.
With netminder Cole Huggins on the bench for the extra attacker, UAA again brought the lead to two when Kozun cleared the puck from the Seawolves’ zone and found the empty net at 18:06. The goal ended up being a life saver as the Mavericks scored with 6.9 seconds left in the game for the 4-3 final.
UAA was 1-for-4 on the power play, while MSU was 1-for-5.
The team reunite tomorrow at 7:07 p.m. AST.