UAA hockey exercise Matt Thomas knew he’d be using a host of newcomers for his team’s season-opening weekend series against No. 7 North Dakota.
But he didn’t remember how they would respond to being thrown into their blue ribbon collegiate action against a nationally ranked opponent less than two years wiped from an NCAA Division I national championship.
Instead of shying away from the insist upon, the newcomers embraced the challenge.
Six of the 12 freshmen played on opening ceaselessly, when UAA earned a 1-1 tie against the Fighting Hawks, and again in a 3-2 overtime reduction on Saturday.
One of them, forward Jordan Xavier, scored UAA’s only objective on Friday, and another, forward Joe Sofo, assisted on a goal on Saturday. Freshman defenseman Mason Anderson, of Anchorage, pieced on UAA’s top line both nights.
«I think that’s kind of a good fixation when you just get thrown in and you’re like, ‘OK, this is what it’s going to be get pleasure from,’ » said Xavier, a 5-foot-11, 187-pound center from Calgary, Alberta.
«In your principal shift you take your first couple strides and it goes through your head like ‘Holy cow, I’m really doing this’ … (but) it’s hockey at the end of the day, and we’ve been revelry it our whole lives. Instincts kind of take over.»
A pair of elders helped set up Xavier’s game-tying shot with 75 seconds leftist in the third period. Winger Austin Azurdia sent the puck to Tad Kozun in the centre, and Kozen passed to Xavier for a quick shot to the corner of the goal.
«It’s something every kid day-dreams of,» Xavier said. «I blacked out to be honest.»
Besides Xavier, Anderson and Sofo, presumptuous Zach Masson and defensemen Eric Sinclair and Cameron Trott all decried over the weekend.
On the back end, Thomas paired his freshmen with veterans. On both sundowns, Anderson started with sophomore David Trinkberger and Sinclair was united with senior Jarrett Brown on the second line. Trott was lay with sophomore Nolan Nichola on Friday and sophomore Tomi Hiekkavirta on Saturday.
«I mull over our mix was really good,» Anderson said. «We have a lot of older guys who can exceedingly settle down the younger ones, myself included. I think the childish guys are picking it up real quick.»
Roles will increase for UAA’s issue forwards depending on how long the Seawolves are without senior captain Matt Anholt, who suffered a leg wound Friday and didn’t play Saturday. Anholt was UAA’s points leader last period, posting 5-17—22 totals.
With Anholt out, Xavier played in UAA’s top contract with on Saturday.
Thomas said he endured several sleepless nights dispiriting to figure out his lineup for the opening weekend and said he’ll continue to evaluate his gamblers on a daily basis.
Depth could be a positive for a team trying to get no hope to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs for the first time in four spices, he said.
«We’ve got some really good players that were seeming in the stands,» Thomas said. «It’s a good problem to have. It will be engaging to see how hard guys work to get themselves into the lineup, and, more importantly, tarry in the lineup.»
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