It’s getting closer and closer to crunch time in the WCHA. That can only mean that every point earned in the league standings will become more and more of a factor in deciding their playoff fate.
There is no need to tell that to the Seawolf hockey team. They already have turned on the jets to start the second half of the season.
Their play has been very strong lately and has seen them gain points in four of the past five games with opponents including Denver, Michigan Tech and Colorado College.
Against CC, the series saw the Seawolves split against a tough seventh-ranked Tiger squad. UAA dropped the first game 6-1 to CC. The loss came at the hands of four power play goals and two shorthanded goals allowed against a very talented team.
The rematch saw the ‘Wolves come back with a 2-1 win, powered by goals from freshman Alex Gellert and junior Tommy Grant. The Seawolves also limited the Tigers to just 17 shots, most of which were stopped easily by senior goaltender Jon Olthuis. Junior defenseman Kane Lafranchise also pitched in a pair of assists on the night.
The two points earned against the perennial WCHA frontrunner left Head Coach Dave Shyiak very happy with his team’s effort.
“All in all, I thought it was a real good effort from our guys with 5-on-5 play,” said a satisfied Shyiak.
“That’s a pretty good hockey team, one of the most talented in the nation, so all in all, positive weekend.”
The ‘Wolves will need to keep up their recent trend as they hit the road to face the St. Cloud State Huskies this weekend. SCS currently sits in a tie for second in the WCHA and fifth in the nation.
This series may have future playoff implications, as UAA currently is in eighth place in the conference.
Earlier this season, the Huskies came into Sullivan Arena and swept the Seawolves off home ice with 3-1 and 3-2 victories over the green and gold.
The Huskies are led by junior forward Garret Roe and senior forward Ryan Lasch.
The Seawolves continue to be paced by senior Kevin Clark and Grant statistically. Lately, UAA has seen secondary scoring from the likes of junior winger Sean Wiles, sophomore defenseman Brad Gorham and freshman winger Daniel Naslund.
This balanced scoring will have to continue for the ‘Wolves to continue to climb in the WCHA standings
“For our team to have success, we need everyone contributing,” Shyiak said. “We can’t rely on just three or four individuals.”
The return of senior forward Josh Lunden from a shoulder injury will mean the Seawolves will have that much more scoring punch. Lunden’s career total of 44 career goals makes him the active leading scorer on the UAA team.
Also, an added bonus is the return of junior defenseman Luka Vidmar, whose return will help add even more depth to the UAA defensive corps.
The series is set to start Feb. 5 with the puck drop at 4:07 p.m. with the rematch coming Feb. 6 at 2:07 p.m. from the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn.