Alaska Anchorage spent about 2-1/2 weeks in the Twin Cities this hockey season.

But the Seawolves had a good time, for the most part. They split with the Gophers in laet January, losing 5-1, then winning 1-0.

With a late regular-season charge, they finished tied for eighth place in the WCHA and got the eighth seed, which meant playing the Gophers in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. No problem. They swept the fifth-place Gophers 4-3, 2-0. Minnesota came into the series 5-0-2 in its last seven games.

But the Seawolves Minnesota magic ended there. They lost to Colorado College 4-2 in the second quarterfinal of the Final Five.

Listening to Shyiak, its easier to understand how they beat the Gophers to qualify for the Final Five for the second time in 18 years.


"I told the guys after the game, I am proud," UAA coach Dave Shyiak. "You can not take [away] that great season we had. I thought our seniors were incredible this year. I think they build the foundation and the blueprint that our program needs to move forward. And hopefully we can become a repeat participant [in the Final Five] down here.

"I thought it was important for us to get here with this glad. I thought they were a great class. Now everybody has that experience of getting here and what it takes to get here. It is a good step forward for our program. And we are not just happy we got here. Again we want to be somebody who is here every single year and have a chance to play for a championship. That is what college hockey is about.

"Proud of the guys. And proud of our accomplishments this year."


Gophers coach Don Lucia often talks about losing players early to the pros. It happens even at UAA.

"That is the way it works right now with the CBA in the NHL. You lose players and maybe it effects us a little bit more," Shyiak said. "But everybody has to deal with it. You just have to learn to figure it out and plug some holes and maintain your competitiveness."


"People don't really understand what we have to go through, our challenges being in such a remote area -- almost a different planet. The miles we travel, and to make things work. Missing school and the time changes. It is very demanding on these kids. And our guys do an incredible job balancing their academics. Conditioning is a big thing. Look what happens. We have come so far.

"We have been out here for 10 days. Had we won this thing. Just to put things in perspective, had won three, we would probably have to stay out again. that puts a lot of demands on these young individuals. But our guys are resilient. They get used to it. They take pride in being in shape.

"And I tell the guys, appreciate the opportunity to be in the WCHA. It's such a great league. And our guys have done a great job doing that."

Shyiak said the Seawolves could have done a little more in the playoffs. "You like to win one more and take it one next step," he said. "And that is going to stick with you for a while. But if you look back on the season: We have had our best home record ever at the Sullivan Arena and in the WCHA. Best wins ever in the WCHA era. Probably the most road wins. If you combine all that, and we did it without all-league players, there should have been some of our guys on all-league players. That tells you how special this group really is, playing hard for one another.

"Those are the type of kids we have to get. Another thing is, a lot of these kids never got any other scholarship offers. Our staff did a great job getting character guys with a team-first attitude and look what happens, look what happens.

"And now to get over the hump, we need a couple difference-makers. And hopefully that will come in time, and hopefully we got some in the making here.

"it was a great season. You get a taste of success and it makes you want more."


* The Tigers have played 43 games, but only 12 on smaller, NHL-size rinks. ... CC is the last team to beat North Dakota, which has a 13-game (12-0-1) unbeaten streak. the Tigers needed to beat UAA to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

* CC coach Scott Owens on North Dakota: "They are so deep, they can beat you different ways. They can beat you offensively. They can beat you up physically. They can shut you down defensively."

* The Tigers have never won the Broadmoor Trophy.

* Owens on CC: "We have been an underdog a lot this second half. We have a little confidence." And on freshman forward Jaden Schwartz: "I think he is a 100 percent healthy, but it is hard to know exactly with the ankle. You can see for a true freshman, the poise and the strong stick he has out there."