Alaska Anchorage tallied two third-period goals to eliminate No. 17 Minnesota from WCHA playoff contention with a 2-0 shutout win at Mariucci Arena on Saturday night. Seawolf goaltender Chris Kamal recorded 24 saves for his second shutout of the Gophers in 42 days and UAA became the first team to ever win a WCHA playoff series at Mariucci Arena.
Similar to the opening period of Friday night's game, the first period of Saturday night's game was didn't feature many scoring chances. The Seawolves unloaded nine shots to Minnesota's eight, but the period ended scoreless.
The action picked up in the middle frame, but there were no goals to show for it.
The first quality scoring chance of the game for the Gophers came toward the beginning of the period, when a deflected Cade Fairchild blast hit the boards behind the UAA cage and landed in front of the net. Junior forward swatted a bouncing puck out of the air, but Kamal got in front of it to keep the game scoreless.
Mike Hoeffel had a chance from the same spot 11:27 into the period on the tail end of a Minnesota power play, but Kamal was again there to shut the door and the Gophers and Seawolves entered the final 20 minutes of regulation deadlocked for the second time this season.
Then, just like it did in the Jan. 29 meeting between the two squads (a 1-0 UAA win), Alaska Anchorage got on the board first with an early third-period goal.
At 2:32 of the final stanza, Seawolf forward Jordan Kwas pulled the puck out of a scrum on the sideboards in his defensive zone when and gave a cross-ice lead pass to Mickey Spencer. Spencer edged out Gopher defenseman Kevin Wehrs and put a snapshot top shelf past Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson to give UAA a one-goal advantage. Wehrs was also whistled down for a hooking minor on the play.
Desperate to score the tying goal after Wehrs' penalty was killed off, Gopher senior Jacob Cepis was hooked by Seawolf defenseman Curtis Leinweber while streaking down the right wing to give Minnesota its third and final power play of the game.
On the ensuing penalty kill, UAA picked up three of its 24 total blocks on the game on shot attempts by Gophers Cepis, Aaron Ness, and Tom Serratore to preserve the lead.
Alaska Anchorage then added to its lead with 6:36 remaining in the third. After the Gophers almost scored on a chance in front by Nate Condon, the puck was poked loose into the neutral zone. UAA's Tommy Grant picked up the puck and beat Patterson under the left arm on a breakaway opportunity.
For the second consecutive night, the Gophers were unable to pot the tying goal the Seawolves escaped with a series swept to advance to their second WCHA Final Five.