UAA loses 6-0 to University of Minnesota

Ezra Dan, Reporter

The UAA hockey season got underway on October 7th at the Sullivan Arena with a 6-0 nonconference loss to the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers.

Anchorage’s own Eric Schierhorn, Minnesota’s goaltender, stopped 14 shots; the fewest he’s had to face in a college game. Schierhorn was playing his first game in his hometown since 8th grade when he was recruited to join Shattuck St. Mary’s prep hockey team. On the other end of the ice, UAA junior goalie Olivier Mantha made 33 saves in his first start of the season. UAA had 5 powerplay opportunities to put a goal on the scoreboard but failed every time.

The Gophers took a 1-0 lead with 8:18 left in the first period with a goal by centre Ryan Zuhlsdorf. Zuhlsdorf took a pass from Connor Reilly and put a wrist shot from the high slot past Mantha for his first goal of the season. Not two minutes into the second period, the Gophers struck again. Defenseman Jake Bischoff joined UM’s offensive rush and scored on a back-handed shot that went just over Mantha’s outstretched glove.

At 10:20, senior forward Dylan Hubbs earned a five minute major penalty for unnecessary roughness. Although the Seawolves killed the power play, Mantha had to face seven shots from the potent 13th-ranked Golden Gophers. With less than two minutes in the second, sophomore Brent Gates Jr. fired a slapshot goal from the top of the right faceoff circle off a pass by Jack Ramsey, putting UAA in a 3-0 hole. UAA ended the second period outshot 27-8.

At 18:37 of the final period, Biscoff again scored, assisted by linemates Tyler Sheehy and Connor Reilly. Up 5-0, freshman centre Rem Pitlick took a slapshot from the right side with about five minutes to go. With traffic in front of the net, Olivier Mantha let the fifth goal of the game in. Wingers Leon Bristedt and Vinni Lettieri were both given assists on the play. Finally, with 4:01 left to play, Brent Gates Jr. cashed in for his second goal of the game, making it 6-0. Sophomore Alex Jackstadt of Anchorage said, “We had our chance but it just didn’t click tonight. Just getting shutout, it’s always tough. Our goalie, Olivier Mantha, he stands on his head every single night and just not to show up for him, it’s tough on the guys. We’ll look at the video, find where the breakdowns occurred and go from there.”

After a 6-1 exhibition win against Simon Fraser University in Palmer, UAA’s Renouf twins were feeling good about their play. Jonah Renouf put a puck in the net and assisted on two others, while Nathan Renouf put up two assists. Unfortunately, the brothers didn’t have the same magic against Minnesota. “I think the options were there, I think we were moving around the zone really well, we just couldn’t connect and put it in the back of the net. Sometimes it goes your way sometime it doesn’t and tonight was a night we couldn’t put the puck in the back of the net,” Jonah said.

The Renoufs played junior hockey with the Surrey Eagles in the British Columbia Hockey League. They started their hockey career together at Quinnipiac University, one of the best college hockey programs in the country, but spent all their time on the bench. After transferring to UAA, they had to sit out under NCAA rules. Altogether, the Renoufs waited 31 months to play a college hockey game. Jonah added, “We waited a long time to play our first college game. Butterflies were there but I think the best thing we could’ve done was get out there, take or give a hit, just get back in the game.”

Olivier Mantha had 27 saves against Minnesota, even though he gave up six goals. Mantha said that, “We played well. It’s our first game, there’s a lot of details we need to work on. We don’t have to hit the panic button, it’s just one game. We’ve gotta learn from our mistakes to be ready for tomorrow.”

University of Minnesota is ranked 13th nationally according to a poll. When asked about playing against a national powerhouse Mantha said, “It’s always a challenge when you see those teams, where they’re ranked. They have a lot of drafted players too. You just have to expect you might have a lot of shots and it gives you a chance to show what you can do out there.” The Gophers’ six defensemen have all been drafted by NHL teams. Ryan Lindgren was drafted in the second round of the NHl Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins.

Jackstadt admitted Minnesota was a tough opponent saying, “It’s definitely a little bit different than playing Simon Fraser. We could stay with them, but they were outshooting us, especially their rushes. Their third, fourth, fifth guy in there. It’s just kind of hard. Our backcheckers just gotta get on their fucking horse and beat their d-men up.”

UAA’s leading goal-scorer last season, Tad Kozun had to watch the game from the seats. After getting in a fight against UAF last season, Kozun had to serve a one game suspension, per WCHA rules.

With budget cuts at University of Alaska looming, UA officials are considering cutting the UAA hockey team. “For us as players the only thing we can do, the only thing we can control is the way we play and show up everyday, work hard. Try to convince those higher-ups that they need to keep the team. Other than competing and trying to win games we can’t do anything else,” Mantha said about the cuts. Jackstadt also had something similar to say. “Our coach is kind of dealing with that a little more than we do. You can only control so much and the budget cuts are something we can’t control. Keep your head in it , do your thing, work hard, push the pace, and just don’t let it get to you. Just look forward to that next game,” the left wing said.

With a game the next night against UAF,  the Seawolves were looking to bounce back from their big loss. “UAF is always a great rivalry. So we’ve got a lot to prove. Lot to prove to Anchorage, lot to prove to our fans, lot to prove to ourselves and our teammates,” Jackstadt remarked.