UAA made its season debut tonight here at the McDonald Center in Eagle River -- OK, it was an exhibition, things get real next week -- and looked decent enough in a 3-1 win over the University of Regina, which was fresh off a 6-0 loss to UAF in Fairbanks on Friday night.
Hard to tell much with these exhibitions. The Seawolves looked neither awesome nor awful, which is to be expected in any kind of opener.
Junior goaltenders Chris Kamal (8 saves on 8 shots) and Rob Gunderson (5 saves on 6 shots) were not threatened much -- Gunderson, who played the second half of the game, arguably faced tougher shots because Regina seemed to get better as the game progressed.
Returners Tyler Currier, Alex Gellert and Austin Coldwell scored goals for the Seawolves, who open official play next week in their own Kendall Hockey Classic. Currier beat Andrew Hayes with a snappy backhand at high speed in the first period -- Hayes was in training camp with the Alaska Aces last season.
Gellert banged home a nice cross-crease feed from newcomer Blake Tatchell in the second period and Coldwell rifled a shot from atop the left circle through traffic in the third for a 3-0 lead.
Matt Strueby scored on a rebound for the Cougars after that, polishing off a play which began with a smooth rush up the center of the ice by Matt Sawa, who got off a shot that Gunderson stopped. Strueby popped the puck in an open net.
Power plays are usually a work in progress this time of the season, and so it was for the Seawolves, who took a collar on seven opportunities. Regina racked an 0 for 4.
Nice crowd in here tonight, where the event was hosted by the Mustang Hockey Association -- attendance was 640. The Blue Devils Pee Wee team that won the 2012 USA Hockey Tier II national championship was given some love during the first intermission -- nicely done, players.
UAA opens real play Friday against Canisius, then plays Air Force on Saturday. Both games at Sullivan Arena, now that ice-making problems have been solved there.
UAA is coming off a last-place finish in the WCHA and headed into the last season of the WCHA as a power conference. Remember, starting next season the WCHA will primarily consists of schools like UAA that are Division II in most sports. UAF will be in the WCHA too.
Anyhow, this season represents UAA's last conference shot at big-time programs like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Denver, Colorado College, North Dakota and the likes.