The Chargers could not get anything going offensively — as has been the case in recent years against Minnesota State — but one play may have saved their season.
Shorthanded and down a goal with just over a minute left in regulation, Brandon Parker‘s pass up the middle to center ice found Matt Salhany, who broke away and beat MSU goaltender Cole Huggins as UAH forced a 1-1 tie and stole another point from the WCHA-leading Mavericks.
That the Chargers were even still in the game is thanks to another stellar performance by goaltender Matt Larose. The junior stopped 49 of 50 Minnesota State shots in his fourth straight start between the pipes, the most saves in a game in the WCHA this season.
UAH (6-17-5 overall, 4-13-5 WCHA) managed to take two points in the series after Friday’s 3-3 overtime draw. The Chargers moved to within three points of Alaska-Anchorage for the eighth and final playoff spot, and one point behind idle ninth-place Alaska, all with six games left.
Minnesota State (15-10-7 overall, 13-4-7 WCHA) probably expected to put a stranglehold on the top spot in the race for the MacNaughton Cup. The Mavericks, who have four conference games left, are now up four points over Bowling Green and Michigan Tech, but both chasers have two extra games to play.
The Mavericks, just like every meeting with UAH since the Chargers joined the WCHA in 2013, dominated the puck possession and shot attempts. MSU outshot UAH 50-20 in this one, but could only manage a power play goal at 6:20 of the second period by C.J. Franklin.
UAH had an excellent chance with about five minutes left in regulation as back-to-back penalties by Bryce Gervais and Franklin gave the Chargers about a minute of two-man advantage, but UAH could never get set up for a shot at the equalizer.
Then UAH’s Kurt Gosselin was called for boarding with 1:27 left, and it really seemed unlikely that the Chargers could put on a final rally. But then came the Parker-to-Salhany play, which brought delight to the announced crowd of 2,183 at Von Braun Center. It was Salhany’s third goal of the season, and Parker’s seventh assist.
Gervais had a boarding call that gave UAH a power play that lasted into overtime, but the Chargers managed only one shot on goal in the extra frame. The Mavericks had six, keeping Larose busy until the end.
The Chargers hit the road the next two weeks as they try to build momentum toward a playoff berth, heading to Northern Michigan next week and Bemidji State the week after. UAH finishes the regular season at home on March 4-5 against Bowling Green.