Minnesota peppered Alaska-Anchorage with 50 shots Friday night en route to a 4-0 blanking of the struggling Seawolves. Seawolf netminder Chris King was sensational in the loss, turning away a seemingly endless stream of Gopher odd-man rushes and point-blank attempts.
Minnesota coach Don Lucia praised King for his 46-save outing. “Any time a goalie stops nine out of 10, that’s all you can ask for,” he said. King’s save percentage on the evening was .920.
The Seawolves mustered an enthusiastic first 25 minutes of the game but could not finish their plays or capitalize on opportunities, as they missed open-net chances at 3:30 of the first and 1:45 of the second.
Meanwhile, the Gopher attack was steady and sustained, and ultimately too much for a young Seawolf defensive corps missing its leader and captain, senior Matt Shasby, and its leading defensive scorer, freshman Matt Hanson. Shasby was serving the final game of his suspension for secondary NCAA infractions, while Hanson was out with a concussion.
“We didn’t underestimate them at all,” said Lucia. “It was a pretty even game for our lineup. … We moved the puck well.” Lucia particularly liked the play of Gopher junior Troy Riddle, who erupted for two goals and an assist on the evening.
Following a string of inspired offensive plays from the Seawolves, Minnesota’s Keith Ballard turned the tables at 12:41 of the first and rifled a wrister from the right circle that beat King glove-side. King managed to get it in his glove but couldn’t hold it, and the puck jumped out and fell over the line.
The second period belonged to Riddle, who scored his first goal shorthanded at 8:04 on a nifty backhand through King’s five-hole during a 2-on-1 rush with Ballard. His second came in the waning moments of the period as Alaska-Anchorage seemed to collapse while the Gophers sent uncontested blast after blast at King.
Minnesota finished the game strong, with 18 shots in the third and a goal from Paul Martin at 14:11.
For last-place Alaska-Anchorage, struggling to find even moral victories amidst the hard knocks, the game adds to its school-record losing streak. The young Seawolves are winless in 21 WCHA games and in 24 contests overall.
Minnesota’s road win keeps it in the top half of the league standings, and two points closer to home ice for the playoffs.