Brett Cameron scores all the Seawolves goals in 4-4 tie with Bemidji State
Brett Cameron is headed home for the holiday break this week, and he knows his buddies in Spruce Grove, Alberta, will ask how his hockey season is going.
Before Saturday night, Cameron didn't have much exciting news to share. UAA's senior captain had scored one goal in 14 games.
"I don't even know if I was going to tell them it was an empty-netter,'' Cameron confessed.
Not to worry. He's got a great story to report now.
Cameron not only bagged his first college hat trick Saturday but scored all of UAA's goals in a 4-4 tie with Bemidji State of Minnesota at Sullivan Arena.
Cameron scored on a short-handed breakway, a 5-on-5, a 4-on-4 and a power play to become the first UAA skater to rack up four goals since David Vallieres pierced Michigan Tech four times in 1995.
"Guess they come in bunches,'' said Cameron, a winger. "That was nice, nice to get the monkey off your back -- in a big way.''
Still, given Friday's 3-3 tie and Saturday's tie, which came after the Seawolves led three times, including once by two goals, Cameron craved a better result.
"Honestly, I'd trade those four goals any day of the week for a win,'' Cameron said.
The two ties marked the fifth time in UAA hockey history the Seawolves have tied both games of a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series.
Neither team lost in a weekend series during which both clubs squandered two-goal leads -- the Beavers on Friday, the Seawolves on Saturday -- but the edge went to Bemidji because it seized two road points.
"Absolutely,'' said Beavers winger Charlie O'Connor, who delivered the game-tying strike with three minutes to go in regulation. "Coming all the way to Alaska, our bodies aren't accustomed to the time change. Two points is great.''
Meanwhile, the Seawolves (5-7-4, 2-6-2 WCHA) are just 2-2-2 in league games on home ice.
"We're giving away points in our building -- not a good thing,'' said UAA coach Matt Thomas.
UAA led 4-3 deep into regulation. That edge came courtesy of Cameron's power-play strike 90 seconds into the third period. His fourth goal of the game came after Beavers goaltender Andrew Walsh (23 saves) punched UAA winger Tad Kozun, who was prone on the ice after he was shoved into Walsh by a Beavers player. Cameron's goal snapped a string of 24 straight fruitless power plays stretching over seven games.
But the Beavers (4-10-2, 2-6-2 WCHA) generated the equalizer with simple, fundamental hockey: Get the puck to the net and drive to the net for a rebound.
Defenseman Ruslan Pedan fired a shot from the left point that UAA goalie Olivier Mantha (28 saves) stopped with his right shoulder. The rebound popped out at O'Connor and ricocheted off him into the net.
"It went off my [right] elbow and found a hole,'' O'Connor said. "I didn't even see the puck until it was in the net.''
Cameron opened the scoring with a short-handed breakaway nine minutes into the game for his first career shortie. He stole the puck from Bemidji's Phil Brewer on UAA's side of the red line and was in alone from center ice.
"I thought, 'Should I go to my backhand?' '' Cameron said. " 'Should I go five-hole? Should I go backhand, forehand?' At the last second I thought, 'I'll go backhand, forehand.' ''
Cameron tried to beat Walsh high to the glove side, but didn't elevate the puck as much as he hoped. Even so, his shot ticked off the bottom of Walsh's glove and in.
Bemidji forged a 1-1 tie two minutes later on Leo Fitzgerald's roofed power-play dart from the slot for his first college goal.
Cameron scored on a backhand from a severe angle with the teams skating 4-on-4 late in the first period. Then he one-timed a Matt Anholt feed from the slot less than three minutes into the second period to seize his first college hat trick and give UAA a 3-1 lead.
Yet the Seawolves' penalty-killing continued to kill them. Brendan Harms and Brett Beauvais scored second-period, power-play goals for a 3-3 tie. The Beavers converted 3 of 7 power-play chances Saturday and 5 of 10 in the series.
Cameron's flurry of goals snapped his 11-game goal drought.
"I was thanking God, I was thanking the hockey gods,'' Cameron said.
And yet he would have loved his big night to have come in victory. Instead, the Seawolves settled for another tie, their fourth in 16 games this season.
"That's college hockey,'' Cameron said. "It's so fricking back and forth.
"Your emotions can be so high, and then they can drop so low.''