The Chargers went to Fairbanks looking to solidify its playoff position, and nothing went UAH’s way Friday in the first game of the series with Alaska.
UAH lost 3-0, getting shut out for the fourth time this season. The Chargers (7-19-3 overall, 7-13-3 WCHA) haven’t won since Dec. 10, winless in their last seven WCHA contests and nine overall.
The Chargers’ hold of the eighth and final WCHA playoff spot became all the more tenuous. Northern Michigan and Alaska Anchorage both won Friday, cutting the gap to UAH to just two points with the Chargers only having five games left. Both NMU and UAA have two games in hand.
Complicating matters for UAH is the loss of defenseman Kurt Gosselin, who left the game in the first period after a contact to the head by Alaska’s Zach Frye.
The Chargers were stymied, mostly in the third period, by Nanooks goaltender Davis Jones, who made 31 saves (18 in the third period) for the shutout.
Alaska improved to 9-15-3 overall and 8-10-3 in the WCHA, moving into sole possession of fifth place.
The Nanooks got the first goal at 4:31 from John Mullally, who was on the doorstep for a wide open net. UAH goaltender Jordan Uhelski could not pick up a rebound from a Zach Frye shot.
Alaska went up 2-0 at 12:35 when Chad Staley drove to the net alone and coaxed the puck around Uhelski’s left.
The Chargers had their chances in the first period, but had nothing to show for it. UAH had the benefit of over three minutes of power play time after Frye’s hit on Gosselin got him a major contact to the head penalty and a game misconduct.
Gosselin was escorted to the locker room by the UAH training staff and did not return.
Meanwhile, Jones made the saves on a 3-on-1 Charger break and a Max McHugh point-blank shot.
The second period saw no scoring, but Alaska maintained most of the puck possession and offensive chances to prevent the Chargers from rallying. The Nanooks outshot the Chargers 13-6 for the period.
Alaska had some golden opportunities to extend its lead, however, thanks to a couple of UAH turnovers. Kylar Hope had a steal behind the net and tried a wraparound, and the shot rebounded to Troy Van Tetering, who missed a wide open net.
Van Tetering had another chance late in the frame, as he took a loose puck in the UAH zone. Uhelski would deflect his shot out of play to keep the Chargers within two.
That didn’t stay long to start the third. Nikolas Koberstein put Alaska up 3-0 just 29 seconds in with a writer from the high slot.
The Nanooks nearly made it 4-0, but Staley was called for a major charging the goalie penalty. For the second time, UAH hindered itself by committing a penalty, this time by Cam Knight, shaving two minutes off its man advantage.
When they did get the power play back, the Chargers had at least six shots on goal. Jones made the saves to preserve the shutout.
In fact, the third period is when UAH finally put the pressure on. The Chargers had 18 shots on goal in the final frame, and Jones seemed to be everywhere with the glove and the pads.
In the end, Alaska still outshot UAH 34-31. Both teams were 0-for-4 on the power play.
Game two of the series is Saturday night at 10:07 p.m.