Freshman defenseman Joey LaLeggia posts goal and two assists for Pioneers

Joey LaLeggia had a goal and two assists for the Pioneers

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Anchorage Seawolves' comeback fell short, as the No. 15-ranked Denver Pioneers swept the series with a 6-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association win on Saturday night at the Sullivan Arena in front of 3,226 spectators.

The Seawolves (6-16-2, 3-16-1 WCHA) used seven and a half minutes in the second period to score three goals and climb back into the game at 5-3, but couldn't get any closer as the Pioneers (15-8-3, 10-5-3 WCHA) added the empty-netter with under 20 seconds left in regulation.

Junior forward Daniel Naslund started the scoring for the Seawolves in the second, converting on a pass from freshman Austin Coldwell in the middle of the Denver zone at 4:03. Just over four minutes later, sophomore defenseman Quinn Sproule cut the gap to three goals at 8:16 with his third tally of the season, before junior forward Alex Gellert brought UAA within two at 11:27.

The Seawolves led the Pioneers, 10-4, in the final stanza for shots, but was unable to capitalize on their opportunities, dropping their seventh straight game. The Pioneers advanced to No. 3 in the WCHA standings with 23 points, as UAA remained in the basement of the league with seven points.

The Pioneers started the scoring early with a tally by Joey LaLeggia at 1:16 of the first, and held the one-goal lead until finding the net with three consecutive goals at 13:43, 14:32 and 14:59. Ty Loney was a part of the DU scoring frenzy and found his second goal of the night at 2:16 of the second, giving the Pioneers the 5-0 lead before UAA found its stride. Chris Knowlton collected DU's final goal at 19:41 with sophomore Chris Kamal on the bench for the extra attacker.

Making his season debut in net for the Pioneers was All-WCHA Rookie Team member Sam Brittain, who missed 25 games with a knee injury. Brittain (1-0-0) furnished the win with 24 saves, while Kamal posted 13 saves. Following the fourth DU goal, bench boss Dave Shyiak replaced sophomore netminder Rob Gunderson (9 saves) in favor of Kamal.

The Pioneers were 1-for-5 on the man advantage, while the Seawolves were scoreless on five opportunities. UAA served 27 minutes in the box, including a game misconduct by senior defenseman Brad Gorham, while DU was penalized for 16 minutes.

The Seawolves continue their six-game homestand with the NCAA defending champions and the No.1-ranked Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs on Feb. 3-4 at the Sullivan Arena. The games are scheduled to commence at 7:07 p.m. both nights.