The UAA Hockey team was finally able to get the monkey off their collective backs this weekend, ending their losing slump in absolute stunning fashion.
Using a three-point night from sophomore Matt Bailey and a 27 save effort from sophomore goalie Rob Gunderson, the Seawolves took down the nation’s top ranked team, the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, by a score of 3-2.
The win would be one that hockey terminologists would refer to as a “blue-collar win.” To everyone in the UAA (4-17-1 WCHA, 7-17-2 overall) program, it was a much needed lift to shake off a eight game slide.
““We gutted it out, we needed to find a way to win a hockey game and we deserved this one,” said UAA Head Coach Dave Shyiak. “I though we played with great urgency and desperation right from the start and we had a collective effort from everyone tonight.”
The Seawolves were able to play the role of the rabbit when freshman Corbin Karl scored his second goal of his rookie campaign. Using assists from Bailey and junior forward Mitch Bruijsten, the Seawolves got to play with a lead, something that was a rarity the past eight games.
“The boys came out with that killer instinct right off the get-go,” Gunderson said. “That goal just takes the weight off your shoulder and makes them the ones who have to play that desperation hockey to try and get back in it.”
Despite being outshot 9-4 in the first period, UAA was able to take that one goal advantage all the way into the second period. While enjoying a 5-minute power play due to UMD’s Scott Kishel being called for checking from behind, UAA saw some rare time on a 4-on-3 power play.
That was when Bailey would score the first of his pair of timely goals on the evening.
“We had a bunch of good chances on that 4-on-3,” Bailey said. “I was just standing in front of the net when (Austin Coldwell) got a shot to go through. I got a good stick on it and was able to tip it through.”
The deflection goal that came at 13:39 of the second period gave UAA a bit of a cushion heading to the third.
UMD (12-5-3 WCHA, 18-6-4 overall) forward J.T. Brown spoiled Gunderson’s bid for the shutout with a rocket from the right circle at 9:26 of the third period.
“We knew they were going to come after us all night long and that we would have to weather the storms,” said UAA freshman blueliner Derek Docken. “They’re a good team and we had to answer the bell and bear down.”
Brown, who had all four UMD goals in their 4-1 win over the Seawolves the night before on Feb. 3, blasted home a power-play strike for his 16th tally on the season.
The Seawolves had to weather another storm soon after that and watched a couple UMD chances sail just wide. However, at 11:31 of the third, a scrum in front of the team benches allowed Docken to collect a loose puck and go 3-on-1 at the Bulldog net with senior defenseman Brad Gorham and Bailey hot on his tail.
“I don’t even remember how the play started, honestly, but I remember seeing Docken go up with the puck so I tried to catch up,” Bailey said, whose goal gave him 6-5—11 point totals on the season. “We made a couple good passes off and I was able to get a good one-timer off. Was a good feeling to see it go in.”
Gunderson, all the way at the other end of the ice, thought there couldn’t be any different outcome on that play.
“That kid has one of the best one-timers in college hockey, so when I saw the puck go back to (Bailey), I knew it was going in the back of the net,” Gunderson said.
Though UMD was able to get a goal from junior winger Mike Seidel to go at 15:57 of the period, UAA was able to block shots, pin the puck up along the boards and kill the remaining time off for a shocking upset.
“We had that faith and thought ‘we can beat these guys, we can beat anyone’ when we put pucks in the net,” said Gunderson, whose win moved his record to 4-7-2 on the season.
Shyiak’s message to his team after the game was simple but “feel good.”
“(I told them) to understand this is how we have to play,” Shyiak said. “We’re a team that has to do things the hard way and can never take our foot off the pedal. I’m happy for the boys and they deserve a night of celebration after this one.”