The Chargers needed a win in any shape or form to stay in the WCHA playoff hunt. Even in gift form.
Matt Larose stopped 29 of 30 shots, and UAH got the benefit of an own goal with 4:19 remaining to take a 2-1 win at Alaska Anchorage on Friday night.
The win drew UAH (6-16-3 overall, 4-12-3 WCHA) to within three points of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska, which remain tied for the eighth place and last playoff spot in the conference. The Seawolves fell to 9-13-3 overall and 6-11-2 in the WCHA.
It was UAH’s first-ever win over the Seawolves in Anchorage, where the Chargers were 0-13 dating back to 1987.
Goals were going to be hard to come by enough against UAA’s talented goaltender Olivier Mantha, but the Chargers were also missing two of their top leading scorers on the first line. Brennan Saulnier is suspended for the series by the WCHA for a contact to the head incident at Ferris State two weeks ago, and UAH’s top goal scorer, Chad Brears, was out of the lineup.
UAH did manage to strike first, just 3:04 into the contest.
Left wing Jetlan Houcher centered a pass to the slot, where Tyler Poulsen‘s shot was saved by Mantha. The rebound came right to Adam Wilcox in front of the crease, and Wilcox buried his fourth goal of the season.
No scoring in the second period, while each team got a power play. UAA had three shots on goal on its man advantage early in the period after a Cody Marooney holding call. UAH had chances on its power play after Brent Fletcher was taken down by UAA’s Dylan Hubbs.
However, the Seawolves’ best chance came on a 2-on-1 break shorthanded, but the puck rolled off Tad Kozun’s stick and wide of the UAH net.
Alaska Anchorage dominated much of the third period, throwing pucks at Larose, who were able to make several glove and body saves.
It helped the Seawolves to get two early power plays, and they finally tied the game with 10:07 left on the second advantage. Wyatt Ege’s blast found its way through traffic for the only goal Larose would allow.
Mantha was strong for UAA as well, denying Matt Salhany‘s breakaway shot with his glove. Ege slashed Salhany on the play, but UAH failed to convert the ensuing power play.
Then came the fortunate bounce for UAH. Mantha played the puck behind his net, sending it to defenseman Chris Williams. Williams’s errant pass went back toward the UAA goal as Mantha was returning, hitting Mantha’s skate and going in the net with 4:19 left in regulation. The own goal gave UAH the lead. Salhany got credit for his second goal of the season.
UAA outshot the Chargers 30-24. Mantha made 22 saves.
Game two of the series is Saturday night at 10:07 p.m. Central Time.