The UAA hockey team may have looked dominating in a 5-2 win over the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oct. 22. But their true colors came out the next night as they were embarrassed in front of their home crowd 6-0.
“We stole one last night,” defenseman Lee Green said after Saturday’s game. “I’d say we didn’t deserve to win.”
Seawolf goalie Nathan Lawson played great in net for the second straight game stopping 36 of 38 shots on goal Friday, but suffered his first loss as he let five goals find the back of the net Saturday.
The weekend’s games were the first two of the four in the Governor’s Cup series between the instate rivals. One of UAA’s goals is to take back the cup this year as the Nanooks have won the last three in a row including a shootout win last season.
“Growing up, ever since we were little All Star’s or Northstar’s, we grew up thinking we’re better than those guys, when it came to Fairbanks,” forward Justin Johnson said. “To go through this Governor’s Cup experience, it’s very disheartening and almost shameful.”
Lawson’s fantastic play in net Friday night allowed the Seawolves (2-1-1, 0-0-0 WCHA) to take the victory as they were out-shot 39-20 and outplayed by the Nanooks (2-2-0, 1-1-0 CCHA). Saturday night, the Seawolves faired no better, as they looked out of position and couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone all night.
“We didn’t play very well Friday night and we were able to win because of outstanding goaltending,” coach John Hill said. “We’re fortunate that we were able to get a split down here, because I think Fairbanks was the better team this weekend.”
The Nanooks dominated play Friday night with a lot of puck pressure and two power play goals as a result. Lawson was beat by bouncing pucks, redirected slap shots and great passing.
“In terms of all facets of the game, we’re not doing things good enough,” Johnson said. “We need to do everything better.”
An almost lost highlight for the Seawolves came in Friday night’s game, when Johnson snuck a pass from behind the net to his freshman linemate Chris Tarkir for the one-timer, as he was cutting to the goal.
“I was thinking I have to get it to him,” said Johnson. “The kid’s got an excellent shot and he’s a great goal scorer.”
“It was all timing,” Tarkir said. “You just have to get your stick on the ice and let it go quick.”
UAA will begin conference play against Michigan Tech next weekend. One of UAA’s top goal scoring threats will return to action for the series, as sophomore forward Brett Arcand-Kootenay will be back after suffering a broken jaw. UAA will remain without freshman Eric Walsky, out with a high ankle sprain, and without team co-captain Jim Dahl, out with a second-degree knee sprain.
“On Monday, we’ve all got to look ahead,” Hill said. “For us, we’ve got to continue to try and get better individually, and as a team.”
Green, who was suspended earlier in the season, played in his first game of the season Saturday night. He said he was impressed with the play of the freshmen through the first four games of the season. He said they have already stepped it up and helped the team out, but the upcoming series against Michigan Tech will be a test. He said WCHA play is a step up from anything the freshmen newcomers have experienced on the ice before.
“Games like this are going to happen and a mentally strong hockey team will learn from it and come back a better hockey team in the next game,” Green said. “We need to come back and give 100 percent in practice, as well as in the weight room and in our runs.”
The Governor’s Cup will resume with a two game series between UAA and UAF in Fairbanks March 4 and 5. By that time, the Seawolves will have had an entire season to mesh and grow as a team. With the Governor’s Cup, one of the most important events for hockey fans in Alaska, they should expect another exciting and action-filled series when the Seawolves head north.
“After this weekend’s games, it should create for more of an interesting series in Fairbanks,” said Johnson.
“We need to get back to work in practice and concentrate,” Hill said. “But when we get to March and we resume this (the Governor’s Cup), then I’m sure we’ll get all jacked up.”