MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The Minnesota Golden Gophers collected a 2-1 win in a best-of-three series against the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association First Round Playoffs at Mariucci Arena on Friday evening.
After a scoreless first period the Gophers (25-12-1) used two goals by Erik Haula to take the lead, before senior defenseman Brad Gorham cut the Seawolf (9-24-2) deficit in half with two seconds remaining in the second frame for the eventual 2-1 final.
Following the scoreless first frame, the Gophers broke the deadlock with two unanswered goals by Erik Haula. Haula broke away from the Seawolf pack and gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead, going high and glove-side on sophomore netminder Chris Kamal at 1:42 of the second.
At 9:52, with Kamal scrambling to get back into position, Haula had an open net on the far side and was able to capitalize on Nate Schmidt's rebound. Schmidt received the first assist on both Haula's goals.
With just two seconds left in the second Gorham cut the lead in half with a backdoor goal from freshman forward Eric Scheid's feed. With the Seawolves on their fifth power play of the night, senior forward Curtis Leinweber placed the initial shot on net, before Scheid picked up the rebound and found a streaking Gorham on Kent Patterson's blocker side.
The Seawolves were awarded two more man advantage opportunities in the final 20 minutes, but were unable to find the equalizer. In the final seconds Kamal headed to the bench for extra attacker and junior forward Daniel Naslund was able to get a shot on net with 4.3 left, but Patterson held strong.
After tying the Gophers 9-9 for shots on goal in the opening stanza, Minnesota came back in the second to outshoot UAA, 16-4 and 9-4 in the third for 34-17 overall. Kamal (4-12-0) made 32 stops in the loss, while Patterson (25-12-1) posted 16.
UAA was 1-for-7 on the power play, while keeping Minnesota scoreless on two attempts. The Seawolves were tagged for two minor infraction to the Gophers seven.
The Seawolves and Gophers will rematch tomorrow night at 4:07 p.m. at Mariucci Arena. With a UAA win, the Seawolves would force a third and deciding game on March 11 with the faceoff also scheduled for 4:07 p.m. AST.