HOUGHTON, Mich. - Alaska Anchorage scored four unanswered goals to top Michigan Tech 5-4 in the opening game of 2013 Winter Carnival at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena tonight. The Huskies (8-14-4, 5-12-4 WCHA) scored three goals in the first period and another early in the second to take a 4-1 lead before the Seawolves (4-16-7, 2-15-6 WCHA) rallied with four in the final 23 minutes.
"We played well enough to win for most of the game, but it's a 60-minute game," said head coach Mel Pearson. "You have to finish strong, and we didn't."
Tech scored the opening two goals of the game in the first six minutes. Aaron Pietila broke the ice with a shot from outside the right circle after a faceoff 4:28 into action. The tally was Pietila's sixth second of the season in his 11th game played.
Ryan Furne made it 2-0 Huskies with a wrap-around goal one minute later that beat Chris Kamal five hole.
UAA (3-17-7, 3-16-6 WCHA) took a timeout following the goal and replaced Kamal with Rob Gunderson, and the new netminder picked up an assist on a Seawolf goal at the 10:42 mark. Matt Bailey skated in from the neutral zone and got behind the defense before beating Pheonix Copley.
Tech answered with a power-play goal off the stick of Steven Seigo late in the first period for a 3-1 advantage.
The margin grew to three goals when the Huskies converted another power play. Tanner Kero fired a shot from the point that was tipped by Milos Gordic past Gunderson two minutes into the second.
The Huskies continued to buzz in the second period, but couldn't convert on several more grade A scoring chances.
The score remained 4-1 for 15 minutes before a loose puck got past Copley on a power play. The puck appeared to have entered the goal off of Daniel Naslund's skate after a Blake Tatchell wrap around attempt.
Another power play goal seven minutes into the third period gave the visitors life. Jordan Kwas took a feed from behind the net and scored his eighth of the season to help UAA pull within 4-3.
Tatchell tied the game with a wrist shot from the left circle at the 17:51 mark. Copley appeared to be in position to make a routine kick save, but the puck somehow got under his pads.
The game winning goal came with 45 seconds remaining. Scott Allen threw it at the net and it deflected off Kwas into the goal.
Tech put the extra attacker on the ice for the final sequence, and Jujhar Khaira hit a pipe before time ran out.
Both teams were 2-for-2 on the power play. Michigan Tech held a 44-28 advantage in shots on goal. Gunderson made 36 saves after replacing Kamal.
"Anchorage kept it close in the third, and that's what they want," said Pearson. "We had some great opportunities that we didn't convert, and they made good on their chances. Give credit to Gunderson, he kept them in it."
Michigan Tech and Alaska Anchorage will meet again tomorrow evening at 5:07 p.m. for the Winter Carnival finale. Total goals will decide which team claims the John MacInnes Cup.
Notes: Nine different Huskies had points in the game ... Gordic, with a goal and an assist, posted his first multi-point game since Oct. 13 vs. Lake Superior State ... Tech is seeking its first Winter Carnival title since 2010.