Minnesota Duluth beats UAA for third place in WCHA playoffs

Posted: Sunday, March 21, 2004

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Duluth showed flashes of the offensive depth that helped them finish near the top of the WCHA, scoring four unanswered goals to beat surprising Alaska Anchorage 4-2 Saturday.

With the win, the Bulldogs (26-12-4) claimed third place in the WCHA Final Five for the second consecutive season. Two-time defending NCAA champion Minnesota edged top-ranked and regular-season WCHA champion North Dakota 5-4 in Saturday's title game.

"We didn't play a great game, but we did what we had to do to get a win and end the weekend on a positive note," said Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin. His team is a lock to get an invite to the NCAA tournament when the field of 16 is announced on Sunday. "The guys found a way to get enough pucks past (Anchorage goaltender Kevin) Reiter and end on a positive note heading into next weekend."

Trailing 1-0 in the second period, Duluth got power-play goals by Evan Schwabe and Junior Lessard, and a short-handed goal by Luke Stauffacher. Lessard's goal was his 28th of the season - tops in the nation.

But Lessard suffered a leg injury later in the second period on a check by the Seawolves' Brandon Segal. He did not return to the game and will be evaluated when the team gets back to Duluth.

"Special teams did us in," said Seawolves coach John Hill. "When you allow two power-play goals and a short-handed goal, you don't give yourself much of a chance."

UAA (14-23-3) scored the game's first goal on a slap shot by Curtis Glencross in the first period. The Seawolves were then held scoreless until the final seconds of the game. Reiter made 36 saves for UAA.

Bryan McGregor gave Minnesota Duluth a 4-1 lead in the third with his fourth goal of the season, but the Seawolves answered with 17.1 seconds remaining on a Vladimir Novak goal.

Bulldogs goalie Josh Johnson finished with 25 saves.

On Friday, the magical run ended for the Seawolves as they lost to North Dakota 4-2 in the WCHA Final Five semifinals.

The Seawolves, who finished eighth in the 10-team league, had never won a WCHA playoff game in their 12 years in the conference before this year. But they upset third-seeded and No. 5 Wisconsin twice in the opening round then beat No. 14 Colorado College 4-1 in Thursday's play-in game.

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