ANCHORAGE – Senior Jordan Kwas scored a hat trick and fed linemate Matt Bailey for the game-winning goal with 3.4 seconds left Saturday night as host Alaska Anchorage defeated Air Force, 4-2, to claim the title of their own Kendall Hockey Classic in thrilling fashion at Sullivan Arena.
The Seawolves (2-0-0) also got a great debut performance in goal from redshirt freshman Michael Mattyas, who had 25 saves to lead his team to its third straight Classic title.
The Falcons (0-2-0) seemed poised to claim their first win of the season after forward Jason Fabian punched the puck past Mattyas with 6:15 remaining in the third period for a 2-1 lead, with Falcons winger Max Hartner picking up his second assist of the night on the play.
But the Seawolves, under first-year head coach Matt Thomas, continued to pressure the Falcon zone and earned a power-play opportunity with 2:18 on the clock when AFA’s Chad Demers was called for tripping.
UAA took advantage just 26 seconds later, with Bailey and junior linemate Scott Allen cycling the puck to Kwas for the tying goal. With the crowd of 3,592 anticipating overtime as the final seconds ran off, Kwas had other ideas. The left winger from Cochrane, Alberta, zoomed down the right side and stole the puck in the Air Force zone, raced toward the side of the net and fed Bailey with a perfect crossing pass.
Bailey, UAA’s senior team co-captain, also picked up an assist on Kwas’s first goal of the night, with 54 seconds left in the second period.
Air Force took the early lead on a goal from all-tournament pick Cole Gunner with 1:10 showing in the first period, and the visitors from Colorado Springs never trailed until the final 3.4 seconds.
The victory gave the Seawolves their own tournament title for the eighth time in 23 tries and marks their first-ever Kendall ‘three-peat.’ UAA won the title three times in four years from 2003-06.
UAA also extended to a 5-0-3 record in its last eight Kendall Classic games, while also posting the program’s first 2-0-0 start since the 1996-97 season.
The Seawolves go north next week for a pair of neutral-ice games at the Brice Alaska Goal Rush in Fairbanks, where they will play nationally ranked squads Western Michigan (Friday, 5:07 p.m.) and Denver (Saturday, 4:07 p.m.).
2013 Kendall Classic All-Tournament Team
Cole Gunner, Air Force
Brett Cameron, Alaska Anchorage
Sam Anas, Quinnipiac
Colton Parayko, Alaska Fairbanks
Rob Gunderson, Alaska Anchorage
Most Outstanding Player: Jordan Kwas, Alaska Anchorage