Oct. 6 marked the beginning of the 2018-19 UAA hockey season in the team’s debut game against Colorado College. Despite being the season opener, the Seawolves already had some competition in their expedition game against Simon Fraser.
Both the expedition and the season opener were hosted in Alaska, an advantage that Head Coach Matt Curley was happy about.
“We were really excited to have the opportunity to start the season off in our own barn, but now we know we need to get acclimated to traveling on the road,” Curley said.
In an unexpected downturn of events, after their impressive win against Simon Fraser, the Seawolves suffered an 8-point deficit against Colorado College and finished with a 2-10 loss.
However, they were able to redeem themselves the following day.
The deficit appeared almost immediately in game one. The first period was marked by an initial 4 points accumulated by CC, exceeding UAA’s one point.
Sophomore forward Jordan Xavier scored the first goal of the game, one of UAA’s two goals, just seven minutes into the first period. Out of the eight shots made by Seawolves, Xavier’s was the only successful one in that period.
Then CC continued to score back-to-back at 8:46 and 9:35, then two more times before the end of the period. This gave them a 0.400 scoring average for the first period, masking UAA’s 0.125 average.
Again, the entire second period was dominated by CC despite UAA attempting more shots.
Matching their first period average, CC scored four of their 10 attempts. The Seawolves, on the other hand, attempted 12 shots but zero of them rendered successful.
Entering the third period, the Seawolves were down 7 points at 1-8.
In a temporary success for the Seawolves, they decreased their deficit just slightly by scoring the first goal of the third period. Senior forward Nicolas Erb-Ekholm, assisted by Eric Sinclair and Malcom Hayes, made the second and final goal for the Seawolves.
CC continued to finish off the third period with an additional two points, pushing the final score to 2-10.
In the goal, the Seawolves split the game between Kristian Stead and Brody Claeys.
Stead took the first half, making a total of 10 saves in periods one and two, while Claeys finished off by making 11 saves in periods two and three. Despite similar save percentages, Stead gave up 7 points while Claeys gave up just 3.
“As a coach, it became a little bit more clear of where the [starting] order is, and the nice part about that is that a lot of it was on the guys,” Curley said.
The following day, the two teams met back on the ice. This time, the Seawolves prevailed over CC.
From four different Seawolves in each period, UAA outscored CC to win their first game of the season a 4-3.
Senior forward Cam Amantea scored first in period one. Sophomore forward Joe Sofo followed by scoring early in period two. Senior forward Nils Rygaard and junior defenseman Tomi Hiekkavirta finished off strongly by each scoring in the third period.
Overall, the Seawolves solidified a 0.174 scoring average, which was significantly over CC’s 0.093 average for the game.
Claeys was in the net for the entire 60 minutes of the game, making a total of 29 saves. This gave Claeys a 0.906 save average.
In comparison, CC’s goaltender only managed a 0.826 save average.
“I wanted to see effort and hard work. This is really something we have been stressing,” Curley said.
They will be on the road on Oct. 26 and 27 to play against Ferris State in Big Rapids, Michigan.