Crucial points at stake for UAA hockey

The Seawolves will be looking for some critical WCHA points when they entertain the Minnesota Golden Gophers this weekend at the Sullivan Arena.

UAA and Minnesota have already met this season which saw the Gophers skate away with 3-1 and 4-1 wins at Mariucci Arena down in Minneapolis.

However, the ‘Wolves are playing a much better brand of hockey as of late and have played consistently well since their month-long break leading into the new year. Solid road performances at Denver and Michigan Tech gave the Seawolves five key WCHA road points and vaulted them upwards in the standings.

UAA will look to defend its home ice and keep their recent surge going strong by adding more points as playoff positioning becomes more and more apparent.

Wouldn’t you know it but right above them in the standings is the Gophers so the series becomes all the more important to both squads.

Better special teams play has been huge for UAA in the past few series. Since the DU series, the Seawolves are clicking at 23 percent conversion on the power play (as opposed to 11.6 percent on the season overall). The team has also kept up its stingy penalty kill and is 83.6 percent this season on the kill.

The top line of Kevin Clark, Tommy Grant and Nick Haddad continue to give fits to opponents. In fact, Clark even bagged the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week after his strong performance against Michigan Tech (four goals and two assists in the series).

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He is the second Seawolves player to receive the honor joining Sean Wiles, who won the award back in November.

Also, Jon Olthuis been solid between the pipes and has been a consistent performer starting the past four games in net.

For the Gophers, this season has been a change of pace, as the perennial WCHA contender finds themselves in seventh place in the conference and not nationally ranked. They are playing well as of and have earned seven points in their past four games.

The Gophers are led by a trio of players who lead the team in points at 18 apiece. Mike Hoeffel (11 goals, 7 assists), Tony Lucia (6-12), and Jordan Schroeder (5-13) lead the scoring attack for Minnesota. At the other end of the ice is goaltender Alex Kangas, whose 2.37 goals against average and .925 save percentage ranks him at the top of the conference in both categories and establishes that he is an elite goalie in the league.

This home stand takes place on Jan. 29 and 30 with the 7:07 p.m. puck drop. After the series, UAA travels to St. Cloud State with a rematch with the huskies.

This is the last time the ‘Wolves will be on home ice until February 26th when UAF comes to town to begin the Governor’s Cup against the three-time defending cup winner Seawolves.