{Seawolves on the road}

Defending champs send UAA home empty-handed

One night in Colorado the UAA hockey team looked lost and got dominated by the hometown Denver Pioneers. Following the low point, the Seawolves came back the next night and almost experienced a Rocky Mountain high.

It was a tale of two performances for UAA against the defending national champions. The Seawolves closed out the series with a 3-2 overtime loss Jan. 29 after an 8-4 pounding at the hands of the No. 5 ranked Pioneers Jan. 28.

Even with great goaltending by freshman Nathan Lawson, who saved 40-of-43 attempts by the Pioneers, the Seawolves (7-14-3, 5-13-2 WCHA) ended up losing a heartbreaker in overtime.

“We clammed up like a team that doesn’t know how to play in a pressure situation in overtime,” UAA assistant coach Jack Kowal told KENI radio.

Despite Kowal’s displeasure, the Seawolves had to be happy with themselves considering its performance the night before. UAA gave up four power play goals in the loss to the Pioneers (18-6-1, 13-4-1 WCHA).

“When your playing against the best hockey players in the nation, you can’t play the way we are right now,” said Kowal following the opening loss.

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A bright spot for the Seawolves was the breakout play of junior captain Ales Parez, who returned to the form he showed during his first two seasons. Parez had three goals on the weekend and tallied both UAA goals in the overtime loss. Parez now has five goals on the season.

Kowal said moving freshman standout Merit Waldrop to the winger position has allowed Waldrop to be more patient with the puck and to create goal-scoring opportunities for Parez.

UAA has been consistently out shot this season and the trend continued against the Pioneers. They were out shot 47-27 in the 8-4 drubbing but closed the gap a bit the following night as the margin was 43-33.

“As a coaching staff we watch video and a lot of it comes down to personnel,” Kowal told KENI. “We have some guys that are getting some ice time right now that maybe unjustly shouldn’t be playing as much as they are.”

Poor special teams play in the opener plagued the Seawolves. Penalties for the green and gold led to four Denver power play goals. UAA allowed five different Pioneer players to score including Anchorage native Matt Carle. Luke Fulghum tallied a hat trick to lead Denver’s charge.

“You can’t get into a run and gun game with Denver, a team that averages four goals per game,” Kowal told KENI. “We took too many penalties and Denver took advantage of their opportunities.”

Denver went 5-for-10 on the power play for the weekend, whereas UAA could only cash in once in six power play chances. The Seawolves had gone 0-for-12 on the power play in their previous three games, until junior forward Brent McMann scored his fourth goal of the season on a power play in the opener.

The Seawolves return home to play St. Cloud State Feb. 4 and 5 at the Sullivan Arena.

“It’s tough to go back home without any points on this weekend,” Kowal told KENI. “We need to put it behind us and prepare for St. Cloud State.”

– Will Merrill

UAA gymnasts clip Falcons

Coming into their weekend meet with Air Force, the UAA gymnastics team had never won on the road in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Then the Seawolves took home their first road sweep over a fellow MPSF school, as they dropped Air Force on Jan. 28 and 30 at Cadet West Gym.

UAA won the first night 190.575-190.400 led by Dominique Ingram’s two event wins and a UAA sweep on beam that secured the win. Ingram took home the vault and bars titles but after a fall on bars and a poor rotation on the floor UAA needed a big team score on the beam.

Jessica Portlock took home the top spot on beam followed by teammates Sara Randall, Lauren Magiera and Tiffany Staton. Magiera came through on the beam after a fall on the bars to open the meet.

On Jan. 30, the Seawolves closed out the dual sweep with a 189.875-189.625 against the Falcons despite an all-around win by Air Force’s Jessica Liegl. Ingram won the vault and freshmen Portlock and Magiera produced when the Seawolves needed them to.

Liegl squeaked by Ingram 38.875-38.575 in the all-around with the UAA sophomore placing second on bars and floor to go with her win on vault.

UAA dominated the beam with Magiera tying Liegl with a 9.775 on the event. Portlock delivered a solid 37.950 all-around that included 9.65s on bars and floor.

– Barry Piser

Kaempf continues domination

Mandy Kaempf won one race and took second in her other to help the UAA ski team to a fifth-place finish at the Denver Invitational Jan. 28 and 29.

The Seawolves posted 394 points but host Denver won the overall team title with 565 points. Utah followed in second (523) and New Mexico was third (493).

Kaempf earned her fifth straight win in the 5-kilometer classical race with a time of 13:36.5. But she wasn’t finished.

Behind Kaempf, the Seawolf women beat Utah for the team title in the 10K classical race with 70 points. The senior’s second-place finish to winner Martina Stursova of New Mexico marked the first time in six races this season that she didn’t win. Nicole DeYong, Brittany Greer and Sarah Hansen took 10th, 11th and 12th, respectively.

Zach Violett finished third in 43:27.9 in the 15-kilometer classical to pace the men. UAA’s Benjamin Sonntag crossed the finish line in 12th and Kjetil Dammen took 18th.

Violett also had an 11th-place finish in the 10K freestyle.

Andreas Neuhauser skied to a fifth-place finish in the men’s giant slalom to lead the UAA Alpine team.

Julie-Pierre Leclerc led the Seawolf women with an 18th-place finish in the woman’s slalom. Denver’s Florence Roujas swept the women’s Alpine events. Christian Ringvold topped the Seawolf men with a 19th-place finish in the slalom.

– Barry Piser