MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The MacNaughton Cup Champions and No. 4/5-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers ended the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves’ season with a 7-3 win in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association First Round Playoffs at Mariucci Arena on Saturday evening.
The Seawolves (9-25-2) used three power-play goals in the first half of the second for a 3-1 lead before allowing the Gophers (26-12-1) six unanswered goals – two in the second and four in the third – to end UAA’s 2011-12 campaign with the first round sweep.
After a 1-0 Gopher lead curtsey of Jake Hansen at 4:03, the Seawolves killed off three power-play opportunities by UM in the opening stanza before receiving their first in the final minute of the frame that carried over into the second. UAA only needed 35 second after the first intermission to knot the game 1-1 and switch the momentum in favor of the Seawolves.
Sophomore forward Matt Bailey furnished UAA’s first tally of the night following a scuttle in front of the net, where he sent a wrist shot by a sliding Kent Patterson. Freshmen Scott Allen and Derek Docken, who missed four games with an ankle injury prior to this weekend, received the helpers on the play.
At 7:11 of the period, the Seawolves received a 2-minute, 5-on-3 power play opportunity. UAA settled into the Gopher zone where sophomore forward Jordan Kwas fired on net and Bailey tipped it in for the Seawovles’ first lead of the weekend and his team-leading 10th goal of the season.
Just 23 seconds later, Allen gave UAA a two-goal lead on a 5-on-4 power play. Stationed in front of the net, Allen collected the puck just outside the crease and spun it through Patterson’s five hole for UAA’s third goal on just four shots of the period.
The Gophers would take the momentum back, adding two of their own in the final 10 minutes of the period. Zach Budish picked up an even-strength tally at 11:16, before Nick Bjugstad capitalized on Minnesota’s seventh power-play opportunity with 45.1 seconds left in the frame.
Minnesota would then add four more – including two by Erik Haula, who scored UM’s two goals on Friday night – in the final stanza for the First Round sweep and a ticket to the WCHA Final Five on March 15-17.
Sophomore goaltender Chris Kamal (4-13-0), who suited up on Friday night as well, posted a combined 63 saves over the weekend, while Patterson (26-12-1) made 32 saves. UAA managed just 19 shots on goal tonight compared to UM’s 38.
The Seawolves were 3-for-4 on the man advantage, while the Gophers went 1-for-7.
Minnesota successfully revenged last season’s playoffs where the Seawolves handed the Gophers their first ever sweep in the First Round at Mariucci Arena to earn UAA’s second ever trip to the WCHA Final Five.
The Seawolves will say goodbye to seniors Brad Gorham, Curtis Leinweber, Jade Portwood and Dusan Sidor.