ANCHORAGE – Despite a two-goal game by freshman Blake Leask – including his first collegiate strike –the No. 16-ranked Nebraska Omaha Mavericks took a 6-5 win with the game-winning goal, just 31.2 seconds left in overtime to earn the Western Collegiate Hockey Association sweep on Saturday night at the Sullivan Arena.
With the Seawolves (4-19-7, 2-18-6 WCHA) leading 5-4 and going on the penalty kill, the Mavericks (18-12-2, 14-8-2 WCHA) pulled their goaltender with over four minutes left in regulation and the gamble paid off. UNO found the game-tying goal at 16:33 with the extra attacker to send the game into overtime, before Johnnie Searfoss found the game winner.
The scoring frenzy started with a 1-0 lead in the first period with UAA’s only even-strength tally of the night. Sophomore Quinn Sproule, who has skated as a forward for 16 games this season, fired a shot from the blueline, missing wide before the rebound landed in the capable hands of Blake Tatchell. With the teams skating 4-on-4, Tatchell picked up the bounce off the boards for the back-door goal at 11:09.
The Seawolves then made it a 2-0 game with just 33 seconds expired on the clock in the second when Leask furnished his first collegiate goal with a shot from the point, unassisted and on the power-play. It would be just over two minutes later before James Polk would tap in UNO’s first to cut the lead in half.
The second period then saw four more tallies – Derek Docken’s at 5:37 and Leask’s second at 16:20, sandwiched around two Maverick tallies to end the period with UAA sitting on a 4-3 advantage.
At 1:09 of the third, Searfross knotted the game, before junior Matt Bailey picked up his seventh of the season on a feed from senior Alex Gellert at 6:11 to retake the lead.
With Scott Allen in the box for tripping at 15:36, UNO’s bench boss Dean Blais pulled John Faulkener, who enter the game in relief of Dayn Belfour after UAA’s first three goals. The 6-on-4 lasted for 57 seconds before Josh Archibald broke through the Seawolf defense at 16:33. UNO then went on to out shoot UAA, 3-0 in extra minutes.
The Seawolves posted a season-high four power-play goals – the first time since Dec. 9, 2011 against Colorado College (4-for-11) – while allowing just one man advantage strike for the Mavericks. Both teams were tagged for six penalties, serving 12 minutes in the box.
The Mavs outshot UAA for the second straight night, 37-27, after the Seawolves mustered just 10 shots on goal last night. Netminder Rob Gunderson (2-9-4) made 31 saves in the loss, while Faulkner earned the win with 14 saves.
The Seawolves will have a bye weekend coming up before seeing in-state rival Alaska Fairbanks for the annual Alaska Airlines Governor’s Cup on March 1-2 in a home-and-home series.