ANCHORAGE - The No. 8-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers earned the Western Collegiate Hockey Association sweep over the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves with a 3-1 victory on Saturday evening at the Sullivan Arena. The Seawolves lone goal was scored by rookie Sam Mellor on the power play in the second period.
The Gophers (7-1-0, 4-0-0 WCHA) used three goals - one in each period - to hand the Seawolves (3-4-1, 0-4-0 WCHA) their fourth-straight loss and keep them scoreless in the conference. UAA is currently tied for 11th in the league, while Minnesota tops the chart at No. 1 with eight points.
The Golden Gophers took a 1-0 lead in the opening stanza with an even-strength tally by Zach Budish at 10:54. Budish, who was credited with two assists last night, received the puck just outside the crease from Nick Bjustad, who was stationed behind the goal.
The Gophers would increase their lead to two with a shorthanded goal by Nate Condon at 4:03 of the second. With rookie Andrew Pettitt - who made his college debut tonight - in the box on an interference call, Condon was able to break away from the Seawolf power-play unit and send the puck top-shelf for the second shorthanded goal scored on the Seawolves this season.
The Gophers netminder Kent Patterson allowed the first UAA goal after blanketing the Seawolves for 91 minutes and 40 seconds throughout the series. Mellor was able to pick up his own rebound and fire it through bodies in front of the net at 11:40 of the second. Junior defenseman Scott Warner and junior forward Alex Gellert assisted on the man-advantage strike.
The Seawolves got the momentum rolling the final frame and had multiple opportunities, but were unable to crack the Gopher defense. With UAA on the power play in the last minutes of the game, bench boss Dave Shyiak pulled UAA goalie Rob Gunderson for the extra attacker, but the plan backfired as the Gophers capitalized on the empty net. Kyle Rau scored at 19:13, unassisted.
Despite be out shot in the first period, 20-4, the Seawolves came back and won the shot battle, 14-9 in the second and 9-5 in the third. Overall, UAA had 27 shots on goal, to UM's 31. Gunderson (1-2-1) recorded a season-high 19 saves in the first period and 28 altogether in the loss. Patterson (7-1-0) made 26 saves in the win.
UAA was 1-for-4 on the man advantage, while Minnesota was kept scoreless on three attempts. The Seawolves were tagged for four penalties, while the Gophers were sent to the box five times.
The Seawolves are idle next weekend before traveling to Duluth, Minn., to face the Bulldogs on Nov. 11-12 for a WCHA series.