There weren’t many looks of happiness behind the helmet cages of the Seawolves following Friday night’s loss. The same could be said of the 1,403 helmet-less fans that had spent the better part of two periods anxiously awaiting a Seawolves’ go-ahead goal that never came.
The Seawolves (10-16-3, 7-14-2 WCHA) ceded two crucial points in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings to the visiting Lake Superior State (11-18-4, 8-13-2) in a 3-2 loss. The Lakers have all but guaranteed a spot in the WCHA playoffs next month, unlike the Seawolves who are on the bubble as the eighth-place team.
“It becomes a must-win game — as big as they come tomorrow,” said head coach Matt Thomas of tonight’s rematch.
The Lakers capitalized on a power play five minutes into the third period that would prove to be the difference. Sophomore J.T. Henke scored deep in UAA’s end after two quick passes from teammates Mitch Hults and Gus Correale.
The three forwards have amassed over half of the Lakers points this season, whose paltry 1.65 goals per game is good for last in the WCHA.
However, on this night the Lakers scored more than that amount in the first period alone. Lake Superior State went up two goals in the first period with underclassmen Josh Nenadal and Scott Patterson earning scores.
“We had the right response after a very lackluster first period,” said Thomas. “But that’s not enough to be good for a spurt — we have to be way more hungry, way more passionate.”
The spurt came shortly after the drop of the puck in the second period when alternate captain Blake Tatchell earned his 100th career point as a Seawolf. Tatchell located an airborne puck shot by Wyatt Ege and deflected it past Lakers goalie Gordon Defiel.
Seawolf fans barely settled back into their seats when Matt Anholt and his stick politely asked them to stand once more. The Lakers let the sophomore compose himself with the puck in the slot, and Anholt fired it past Defiels for his fifth goal of the season.
The only Seawolf with a letter stitched on his sweater that didn’t score was senior Austin Sevalrud, who skated in his first game back after going down with an injury last month that forced him to miss 6 games.
“I think our leadership is doing the right things,” said Thomas. “When it comes down to this [point in the season], it falls on each individual, you have to be a self-leader, you have to lead yourself to be ready to go.”
Lake Superior State outshot the Seawolves 29-24 over three periods of action.