ANCHORAGE – Senior center Matt Bailey had a goal and an assist Saturday as host Alaska Anchorage forged a 3-3 tie with Air Force to claim the title of the Kendall Hockey Classic at Sullivan Arena.
The Seawolves (1-0-1) won the championship of their season-opening tournament for the second straight year despite the tying goal by Air Force with just two-tenth of a second left in regulation.
The Falcons (0-0-2), who allowed just 14 shots all night, avoided the loss when right winger John Kruse poked home the puck on a wild scramble as the clock wound down. Cole Gunner and Kyle De Laurell picked up assists on the play, which occurred on a 6-on-4 situation.
UAA had taken a 3-2 lead earlier in the period when Alex Gellert corralled a loose puck after it deflected of an Air Force skate near the bench. Gellert, a senior right wing, then raced down the ice to beat goalie Jason Torf with a short wrist shot to the glove side. Seawolf freshman Blake Leask earned his first career assist on the play.
Air Force took control out of the gate with unassisted goals from Stephen Carew and Tony Thomas – his second of the weekend – in the opening eight minutes.
UAA would cut the lead in half on its first shot of the night, however, when Bailey fed Jordan Kwas at the 12:08 mark of the first period.
Midway through the second, Bailey accounted for the equalizer when he grabbed a muffed Falcon pass at center ice and skated in on Torf for a breakaway goal. It was Bailey’s 21st career tally and UAA’s first shorthanded strike since Dec. 9, 2011 (Mitch Bruijsten vs Colorado College).
Bailey was joined on the Kendall All-Tournament Team by teammates Gellert and Derek Docken, who had the game-winning goal in Friday’s 2-0 victory over Canisius.
Air Force, the defending Atlantic Hockey champion, landed Kruse and Thomas on the all-tourney squad.
The Seawolves play two more non-conference games next week at the Brice Alaska Goal Rush in Fairbanks – Friday against No. 4 North Dakota and Saturday against Merrimack – before diving into Western Collegiate Hockey Association action.
2012 Kendall Hockey Classic
Nik Yaremchuk, Alaska Fairbanks
Derek Docken, Alaska Anchorage
Keegan Asmundson, Canisius
Alex Gellert, Alaska Anchorage
Tony Thomas, Air Force
John Kruse, Air Force
Most Outstanding Player: Matt Bailey, Alaska Anchorage