Wildcat Hockey tries to keep momentum going through bye-week

AnnMarie Kent

A sweep over the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves leaves the Wildcats scraping for a spot in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association play-offs.

“I was really proud of their focus that carried over into both games,” head coach Walt Kyle said. “It’s never easy to beat somebody twice, especially when so much is on the line right now for both teams.”

During Friday night’s match-up, the Wildcats sped to a 3-0 lead in the first frame. Senior forward Dominik Shine, junior forward Robbie Payne and freshman defenseman Philip Beaulieu all found the back of the net during the period.

The only response from the Seawolves came in the first few minutes of second period when sophomore forward Jeremiah Luedtke got one past the goalie.

Shine got his second goal of the night on a powerplay near the end of the second frame. Sophomore defenseman Connor Frantti started the scoring in the third with his goal 10 minutes in. Shine ended the scoring with his second hat trick of the season.

The second night of the series sophomore goaltender Atte Tolvanen made 34 saves in a shutout of Anchorage. Four Wildcats sank the puck in the 4-0 victory. Senior forwards Gerard Hanson and Shane Sooth, sophomore forward Troy Loggins and Payne all contributed to the Wildcat win.

After the first sweep of the season Tolvanen said the team is hoping to keep up the momentum through the bye-week.

“It’s nice to have a little bye-week,” Tolvanen said. “We’ve been on a roll for the last couple of weekends, we’ve been playing better. So it would be nice to keep it going, keep the momentum going.” The team is now 7-17-4, and Sooth attributes the rocky season to weak defensive play. He said Tolvanen was doing his job of stopping the puck, but they were struggling with the rebounds.

“It all starts from your defense clawing up that middle and then the offense gets going,” Sooth said. “So you really have to credit the defense first and then the offense will come.” Tolvanen said since the new year he’s been pushing himself harder in practice and making an extra effort to grow as a goaltender. Kyle even said Tolvanen looks like a completely different goalie than he was before Christmas.

Tolvanen doesn’t attribute the recent success of the team to his goaltending though.

“The guys [have been] unbelievable in front of me for the last two weekends,” He said. “I allowed three goals in the last four games—they’ve been helping me so much.”