WCHA RinkRap: Earthquake In Anchorage, Overtime Thriller, & Falcons Mishap

In this week’s edition of RinkRap, we get a riveting play-by-play from Friday’s 7.0 earthquake in Anchorage, learn how the most exciting play in college hockey can go for naught on the scoresheet, and get a history lesson from teams that have suffered “friendly fire” — by scoring into their own empty net with a man advantage. 

Tremors In Anchorage

Fortunately for the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves, last Friday was a bye weekend. Anchorage equipment manager Shane Jensen and his partner Michael Dhesse were performing routine chores in the Seawolves practice facility, when their world was shaken. For a few seconds, the staffers and players being treated felt like they were simply experiencing a small earthquake — a common occurrence for those living on Anchorage’s active fault line — but unlike all the others, this one kept rolling. 

“It was an extended event,” Jensen said. “It felt like it went on for 20, 30 seconds. It sounded like what they say tornados sounds like, a freight engine coming through.”

Jensen and Dhesse waited out the 7.0 quake, scrambled to grab necessary survival gear, and jumped into their car to head north, away from the epicenter. They knew they were experiencing something far more severe than the mild quakes they were accustomed to. 

“This one was obviously far worse,” Jensen said. “Buildings were shaking, lights were in and out. You could really, really feel these.” 

As the two men bolted for Eagle River, they heard news that chilled them both. 

“We had a tsunami warning,” Jensen said. “It was a little shocking.” 

They proceeded along the frontage road out of town, diverting to a small bridge because they major ones were closed as a precaution. Although Friday’s earthquake was no catastrophe, Anchorage old-timers were forced to relive nightmares that had been stashed for over half a century. In 1964, the infamous “Good Friday” earthquake ravaged Anchorage and surrounding areas. That quake measured 9.2 on the Richter scale, triggered a 98-foot-high tsunami, and claimed 139 lives. 

There was a silver lining to its horrific destruction: The 1964 “Good Friday” quake prompted much stricter building codes throughout the state. Today, Alaska complies with the International Building Code, considered “the best available standard for seismic safety,” according to reporting by Forbes Magazine. As a result, the Seawolves athletic facilities took minimal damage. 

“A pipe burst just off the rink,” Jensen said about his club’s practice facility. The Sullivan Center, where the Seawolves play their home games, also suffered only superficial blows. 

“We had some crumbling roof panels loose, but everything overall is pretty structurally sound.” 

On Monday morning, the Sullivan Center Facebook page announced that they were open for skating rentals. One can almost hear the heavy sighs of relief from America’s last frontier.

Twilight Zone Finish 

When is a goal not a goal? Answer: Michigan Tech’s Jake Lucchini finish of an odd-man rush late Friday night, a skate-off goal that ignited delirium in McInnes Arena but was invisible on the scoresheet. USCHO and College Hockey News listed the game as a tie, and Lucchini’s official stat line on HockeyDB remained untouched. This required further review.

The WCHA’s “echo overtime,” the three-on-three that follows the traditional five-minute, five-on-five overtime, lives in the statistical twilight zone. Every shot, save, and in Lucchini’s case, skate-off thrilling goal, goes for naught on the scoresheet. Once the regular overtime concludes, the off-ice officials simply seal up their pens and close their laptops, and watch the game’s conclusion like regular fans. 

So after Friday’s thriller from MacInnes, the shrunken agate type of College Hockey News reads merely “shootout, 1-0 (0 rounds).” We suggest you search the Michigan Tech website for the video highlights from their November 30 “tie” with Bemidji. Cue up the final moments and watch Brian Halonen and Jale Lucchini screaming down the ice, executing a textbook two-on-one, and sending the Copper Country masses home in ecstasy. Seeing is believing.

Beware The Extra Man

Pulling the goalie for an extra attacker during a delayed penalty can be a “gift” with a dangerous downside. Ask BGSU head coach Chris Bergeron, who saw his Falcons victimized by “friendly fire” on Sunday in their league tilt with Alabama Huntsville. A brisk pass to the point hopped over a stick, resulting in a tying goal for the Chargers. Although the Falcons went on to complete their sweep of Huntsville, it was déjà vu for Bergeron, whose Falcons were victimized back in January 2014 with an almost identical play. 

Drew Evans, editor of BGSUHockey.com and the Falcons’ de facto historian, went 30 years deep into his file of anecdotes for this jewel. 

“I’m told that it happened once when Jerry York was here,” Evans said. “York then decided after that one occurrence to never pull his goalie on delayed penalties again at Bowling Green.”

In their history, the Alabama Huntsville Chargers benefitted from another “friendly fire” goal at their Von Braun Center home arena. That time it was Minnesota State shooting themselves in the proverbial foot, back on Feb. 12, 2016.

Puck Droppings

  • Although Michigan Tech’s tie with Bemidji felled the Huskies from the ranks of conference perfection, coach Joe Shawhan is very pleased with his club: “I go to bed at night and I sleep well.”
  • According to College Hockey Inc., only AIC has more nations represented on their roster than the seven on Lake Superior State.
  • Stick-taps to WCHA women’s officials Jestina Vichorek and Kendall Hanley, who are honored to be working IIHF U18 World Championship events in Japan and Austria, respectively.
  • Minnesota State athletics received some priceless publicity Sunday, of the favorable variety, when football alum Adam Thielen of the NFL Vikings wore cleats with Mavs markings all over them in the nationally televised Vikes-Pats game. Commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman spent precious seconds hyping the Mavericks top-ranked Division II football squad, who will be playing Ferris State in the NCAA semifinals this Saturday. The two schools have battled countless times on ice, but this is their first meeting on the gridiron. 

The following sources contributed to this piece: Forbes Magazine, College Hockey Inc., UAH, BGSU, Michigan Tech, and Minnesota State Sports Information offices, the WCHA commissioners’ office, and BGSUHockey.com

Tim Rappleye is the author of "Jack Parker's Wiseguys" and the forthcoming book: "Hobey Baker, Upon Further Review," set for release in November. He can be reached @TeeRaps.

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