#22 Alabama Loses Ranked Match Up to #17 Midland, 5-3
GAME #13 - #22 ALABAMA 3, #17 MIDLAND 5
FREEMONT, NEB. – The No. 22 Alabama hockey team’s comeback bid came up just short at No. 17 Midland on Friday night. After an empty net goal, the Warriors claimed a 5-3 victory in the Sidner Ice Arena. This weekend marks just the second series against a ranked team when Alabama is also ranked. UA is now 1-2 in such meetings.
The most-penalized team in the nation did not wait long to take its first trip to the box. Midland’s Luke Sanko was sent off just 1:38 into the game for tripping, but Alabama failed to score on the power play. Each team would take another penalty in the period with both teams failing to capitalize on the advantages.
With 7:37 on the clock, sophomore Marc Demers took his second penalty of the period along with Sanko. Both were sent off for roughing. Midland’s Zach Voss scored during the resulting 4-on-4 play. Senior Ian Soifer was called for hooking to end the frame, with Alabama trailing, 1-0.
Junior Stephen MacInnis opened the second period with his fourth goal of the year to tie the game just 2:16 into the frame. Things stayed quiet for some time until senior Jon Lovorn was called for hooking at the 11:25 mark. The Warriors capitalized on the opportunity with Jake Mullendore lighting the lamp just 62 seconds later. Mullendore scored again six and a half minutes later to give Midland a 3-1 lead.
With 10 seconds left in the middle frame, freshman Nick Messina got a breakaway opportunity and scored to cut the lead to one goal. Immediately after dropping the puck to resume play, freshman Vaughan Kavanaugh laid a devastating hit on Nick Blanchette that shattered the glass. Officials opted to run the final seconds off the clock to end the period early. Blanchette remained down for a while, but eventually skated off under his own power and returned for the third period. The hit led to a lengthy delay between periods as Midland’s staff cleaned up the glass and installed a new panel.
The Warriors scored less than two minutes into the final period to extend their lead to 4-2. Messina scored again with 8:55 left to play, this time with an assist from Lovorn. Alabama had chances to knot the game at four goals apiece in the final four minutes. Midland took two penalties that gave UA a 5-on-3 advantage, but the team could not get an equalizer. With 1:47 left, sophomore Taylor Bowman took a hooking penalty that wiped out Alabama’s power play.
The team pulled goaltender Jesse Gordichuk for the extra attacker to play 5-on-4. Midland cleared the puck, and as Messina retreated behind his empty net to play it, he stumbled and coughed up the puck. Voss was waiting on the doorstep to tap home the final goal of the game.
Alabama plays Midland again at the Sidner Ice Arena on Saturday. The puck will drop at 7:30 p.m. CT.