DULUTH, Minn. – The University of Alabama in Huntsville hockey team put up an incredibly valiant effort Friday night, falling by the slimmest of margins to the nation's top-ranked team in a 2-1 decision at Minnesota Duluth. The Chargers fall to 2-23-1 on the year, while UMD survives to move to 15-4-3.
In the setback, goalie Clarke Saunders recorded his second 50-save performance of the season – he turned aside 55 earlier this year against Air Force – as he stopped 52 of the 54 shots he faced on the night to keep his squad in contention.
The impressive showing also marks the third time in his two-year stint in the Blue and White that Saunders has breached 50 saves as he set a career high with 58 in a contest against Nebraska Omaha a season ago.
With Saunders keeping the team in the game despite being outshot 52-26, Tom Durnie made things incredibly interesting as the senior defenseman scored on the power play for his second goal of the season at 17:05 of final period to pull the Chargers within one.
Lasse Uusivirta picked up the primary assist on the goal to notch his sixth point of the season, while Jamie Easton earned his third point in the team's last games as he also helped out on the play.
The Bulldogs tallied in both the first and second periods, scoring about halfway through both. Justin Crandall scored the contest's first goal at 11:06 of the opening frame, while Travis Oleksuk scored his 16th of the year at 12:26 of the middle stanza.
UAH limited the hosts' leading scorer Jack Connolly – he entered the night with 13 goals – to only three shots on target though he did add an assist on the Oleksuk marker to record his 24th assist of the season.
With the Durnie strike, the Chargers finished the night 1-for-6 with the man-advantage, and they allowed UMD nothing on their four opportunities on the power play.
The two teams will square off again on Saturday with the puck scheduled to drop at 7:07 p.m.