FAIRBANKS - The heated rivalry between Alaska and Alaska Anchorage was taken to a new level this season with both teams in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, and isn't it fitting that the two teams play a seventh game to decide which program goes to the Final Five.
UAA scored twice in 88 seconds and Rob Gunderson made 25 saves to lead the sixth-seeded Seawolves (17-15-4) to a 2-1 victory against the third-seeded Nanooks (18-14-4) Friday night at the Carlson Center.
It will be game three of a WCHA quarterfinal series and the seventh and final time the Last Frontier squads will meet with the winner advancing to Grand Rapids.
Matt Bailey and Brad Duwe both scored for the Seawolves in the victory while sophomore defenseman Colton Parayko (St. Albert, Alberta/Business Administration) was the lone goal scorer for the Nanooks.
Gunderson made 11 of his 25 saves in the third period to preserve the win as he improved to 9-7-2 while junior goaltender Sean Cahill (Calgary, Alberta/Business Administration) fell to 10-5-1 after making 22 stops on 24 shots faced.
Alaska outshot UAA 24-22 for the game but Anchorage held advantages in both blocks (18-11) and face-offs (31-28). Both teams failed to score on the power play as Alaska went 0-for-2 and UAA was 0-for-3.
With time winding down in the first, Alaska finally opened the scoring with 28.1 seconds remaining. Colton Beck sent the puck cross-ice in the neutral zone and as soon as he crossed the blue line, the Defensive Player of the Year fired a missile from the point, beating Gunderson stick side to make it 1-0. With that assist, Beck became the 31st member in Alaska Hockey history to reach 100 points.
The momentum shifted in a hurry early in the second as UAA knotted it up at the 2:59 mark. In the offensive zone, Scott Allen fed the puck to a surging Bailey, who received the puck at the point and ripped a shot that got past Cahill on the glove side to tie it at 1-1.
Only 1:28 later at the 4:27 mark of the period, UAA took the lead with the eventual game-winning score. Blake Tatchell went to take a shot from the left point but his stick broke on impact and the sliding puck was picked up by Duwe in front, who spun and shot it past Cahill to make it 2-1.
Alaska and UAA will complete the first round of the playoffs Saturday night at 7:07 p.m. and the winner will advance to next Friday's WCHA Final Five semifinals at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich.