Chugiak goalie Joe Lindquist stopped every shot South's snipers sent at him until being done in by an unexpected assassin his own teammate.
Lindquist's stellar shutout of the second-place Wolverines on Jan. 14 at Ben Boeke ended at the 8:38 mark of the third period when a Chugiak defenseman's clearing attempt of a Bain Quest shot accidentally ended up on net, slipping past Lindquist to give South a 1-0 lead.
"It's just the fluke goal that always gets you," the junior said.
Defenseman Ben Morse nearly tied things up when he hit the post four minutes later. A minute after Morse's near-miss, South beat Lindquist fair-and-square when Kyle Simmons finished off a 3-on-1 break to give the Wolverines some breathing room.
But Chugiak wasn't going down without a fight, and captain Sean Casey made things interesting again when he scored just 16 seconds later to cut the lead to 2-1.
"We were all giving it all we've got," Lindquist said.
Chugiak was unable to muster a tying goal down the stretch, and a penalty for too many men on the ice with just over a minute to go effectively ended any hopes of a comeback. South finished things off with an empty-netter with 12 seconds to play.
Lindquist finished with 40 saves on 42 shots, a performance that coach Rod Wild said was one of the best he's seen this season.
"If he plays like that we've got a chance," Wild said.
Despite the mishap, Lindquist said he wasn't angry at his teammate for the untimely own goal. In fact, he said the Mustangs have been coming together as a team despite not winning a CIC game since Nov. 30.
"It's getting to be a tight knit group," Lindquist said.
If the Mustangs can continue to stay positive down the stretch, Lindquist said he believes winning results will eventually follow.
"We're just doing everything we can to put a decent game together," he said.
Chugiak's CIC losing streak continued on Jan. 15 when first-place Dimond showed why they're undefeated this season with a 13-2 thrashing at Ben Boeke. Casey and Tyler Viens scored goals for the overmatched Mustangs, who tied the game at 1-1 before Dimond ripped off 12 straight goals. Lindquist made 13 saves in defeat before giving way to Matt Bennett, who stopped 19.
Chugiak's run of misfortune could end tonight, when the Mustangs face winless Bartlett at the Mac. Though Chugiak trails Eagle River in the standings, the Mustangs are entering the easiest stretch of their schedule, with their remaining three opponents (Bartlett, West and Eagle River) a combined 6-25-0 in the CIC this season.
Wild said his goal for the final stretch of the season is for his team to simply work hard on a week-to-week basis.
"If we do the things we're supposed to do and get better at those we'll win the games we should win and then give ourselves a chance to win some games that maybe people don't think we should win," he said.
Even if the Mustangs do end up facing a top-three team in the playoffs, Wild said the strong showing against South proved anything is possible once the playoffs roll around.
"On paper it may look like one team is completely outmatched and it's an obvious conclusion, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way," he said.
Dimond 13, Chugiak 2
Jan. 15, Ben Boeke
Chugiak 1 0 1 2
Dimond 4 6 3 13
First period 1. Dim- Anderson (Thompson, Roberts), pp, 2:53; 2. Chu- Wiens (Jones, Keller), 5:40; 3. Dim- Dunlap (un), 7:30; 4. Dim- Williams (Thompson, Roberts), 8:07; 5. Dim- Vega (Browning), 8:26.