ANCHORAGE – The Alaska Anchorage Seawolves battled back twice to tie the game but were unable to find the lead, falling to the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks, 4-3 in Game 3 of the Alaska Airlines Governor’s Cup, while ending their playoff dreams on Friday at the Sullivan Arena.
With the loss, the Seawolves (7-20-6, 6-15-6 WCHA) have been eliminated from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs, but can still claim the Cup title with a win and shootout victory in Game 4 of the in-state rivalry. With the win, the Nanooks (11-18-4, 10-13-4 WCHA) are one step closer to claiming their 13th Cup crown, leading the series, 2-1.
After UAF’s Tyler Cline made it a 1-0 game at 8:23 of the 1st with the only power-play strike, the Alaska schools fired off a combined four goals in 1:42 minutes of play. The Nanooks’ Ross Heidt made it a two-goal game at 17:54 with a shot from the blueline, before UAA’s leading defenseman, junior Jarrett Brown, cut the lead in half, 26 seconds later. Senior Dylan Hubbs sent a cross-ice pass to Brown for a wrister from the left circle.
Tying the game for the first time of the evening was the Seawolves’ goal leader in sophomore Mason Mitchell. Mitchell collected his first of the night at 18:58 – 38 seconds after Brown’s strike – going five-hole on sophomore goaltender Jesse Jenks.
The excitement in the building was short-lived as the Nanooks responded 38 seconds later for a 3-2 lead going into the first intermission. Getting UAF’s tally was junior Austin Vieth from junior Justin Woods, who placed the pass on net for a streaking Vieth.
Following the hectic final minutes of the first period, the second started with the same enthusiasm when Mitchell picked up his team-leading 12th of the season, just 23 seconds into the frame. Junior Tad Kozun furnished his second assist of the night, fishing the puck from behind the net to captain Matt Anholt, who then found Mitchell outside of the crease for the tap-in.
After the Seawolves knotted the game for the second time, the score stood at 3-3 until freshman Troy Van Tetering garnered the game-winning dagger at 13:34 of the third. UAA twice tried to clear the puck from the zone, but senior captain Brandon Morley rounded it up from a blocked shot and found Van Tetering stationed on netminder Olivier Mantha’s left.
UAA pulled Mantha for the final 1:12 of play, but was unable to find the equalizer. Mantha made 20 saves in the loss, while Jenks made 17. UAA was out shot, 24-20.
The in-state rivals will meet again tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. AST with UAA’s final game of the 2016-17 season. The Seawolves will say goodbye to five seniors – Brad Duwe, Dylan Hubbs, Rasmus Reijola, Connor Wright and Chase Van Allen.
The night will also serve as Scout Night, giving free entry into the game for Boy’s and Girl’s Scouts, 12 and under, when wearing a uniform.