Feb 192017
 
WCHA standings
Top 8 make playoffs
Pts. Record Next
x-Bemidji State 61 19-5-2-2 vs. MSU
y-Michigan Tech 51 14-6-6-3 at/vs. NMU
y-Minnesota State 48 14-8-4-2 at BSU
z-Bowling Green 38 12-13-1-1 vs. UAH
z-Ferris State 38 11-12-3-2 at LSSU
Alaska 34 9-13-4-3 at UAA
Lake Superior 33 8-12-6-3 vs. FSU
N. Michigan 31 9-14-3-1 vs./at MTU
UAH 30 9-14-3-0 at BGSU
AK-Anchorage 26 6-14-6-2 vs. UAF
x-Clinched regular season championship
y-Clinched home ice in first round
z-Clinched playoff berth

The Chargers are very much alive for a WCHA playoff spot after the results of league games during UAH’s bye week.

UAH, currently in ninth place with 30 points, is on the outside looking in heading into the regular-season final series at Bowling Green. The Chargers will need points against the Falcons and some outside help to reach the postseason.

UAH got some help this weekend with Northern Michigan getting swept by Minnesota State in Mankato, keeping the Wildcats only one point ahead of UAH with that eighth and final playoff spot.

If the Chargers can get one more point at Bowling Green than NMU can get at home against Michigan Tech, UAH should take eighth. UAH has the “D” tiebreaker (head-to-head with fewer than four games played) over Northern Michigan thanks to its sweep in Marquette in December.

UAH could reach as high as sixth place, but they’ll need to sweep Bowling Green and get a lot of help.

Here are the matchups for the final week of the WCHA regular season:

UAH at Bowling Green: The Falcons swept the Chargers in Huntsville by scores of 4-1 and 8-3, but the games were closer than the scores indicate. The first game was a one-goal affair until BG scored with less than two minutes to go and then added an empty-netter. UAH had the lead going into the third in the second game and was down only one halfway through the third before the Falcons again added another late goal and empty-netter (plus two garbage goals afterward). Last season, UAH stunned Bowling Green with a 7-5 win in the final weekend.

The Falcons will have something to play for themselves, however. They are tied with Ferris State for fourth place, which gets you home-ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

Michigan Tech at/vs. Northern Michigan: This is the most important series to keep an eye on if you’re a Charger fan. The Huskies and Wildcats will play at NMU on Friday and at MTU on Saturday. Back in October, Michigan Tech swept a home-and-home series over Northern Michigan 2-0 and 5-1.

Michigan Tech has secured home-ice in the first round, but could be home for the semifinals as well should it hold off Minnesota State for the second seed.

Ferris State at Lake Superior State: Lake Superior State is in seventh, three points ahead of UAH. The Lakers own the “A” tiebreaker (head-to-head) by winning all four meetings with the Chargers this season. UAH will need at least a win and a tie against Bowling Green and Lake Superior to be swept for the Chargers to pass them.

Ferris State swept LSSU in the series at Ferris in November. The Bulldogs are tied with Bowling Green for fourth place and home ice in the first round.

Alaska at Alaska Anchorage: Alaska is in sixth, four points ahead of UAH. The Nanooks also have the “A” tiebreaker over UAH with a 2-1-1 head-to-head record.  UAH will likely need to sweep Bowling Green and Anchorage to sweep Alaska for the Chargers to catch the Nanooks.

The teams split the first half of their Governor’s Cup series in Anchorage in December. Anchorage has to sweep Alaska and needs UAH and NMU to be swept to make the playoffs.

Minnesota State at Bemidji State: This series has no bearing on UAH’s chances. The Beavers will be celebrating their MacNaughton Cup win while the Mavericks try to snatch the second seed from Michigan Tech.

Feb 172017
 
WCHA standings
Top 8 make playoffs
Pts. Gms Next
5. Ferris State 32 4 vs. UAA
6. N. Michigan 31 4 @ MSU
6. Lake Superior 31 4 @ UAF
8. Alaska* 30 4 vs. LSSU
8. UAH 30 2 Idle
10. AK-Anchorage 27 4 @ FSU
* Alaska has the tiebreaker over UAH (2-1-1 head-to-head)

The Chargers are off in this penultimate week of the regular season, which means we’ll be scoreboard watching.

UAH is currently tied for the eighth place in the WCHA standings. The Chargers are tied with Alaska for the final playoff spot, but Alaska has the tiebreaker thanks to the Nanooks’ 2-1-1 record against UAH this season.

This means the Chargers must get points next week in the final series at Bowling Green and get some help, including this week.

So, who do we root for this week that will help UAH’s chances?

Alaska Anchorage at Ferris State: The crazy thing about the standings right now is that only two points separate fifth (where Ferris State is) from ninth (where UAH technically is). And it’s only five points between Ferris State and last-place Alaska Anchoarge.

Obviously, we don’t want Alaska Anchorage, which is only three points behind UAH, to catch and pass the Chargers. UAH really only needs to pass one team, and Ferris State is the least likely the one to be passed, so it might be best to have Ferris State keep UAA down so UAH doesn’t have to worry about the Seawolves.

Root for: Ferris State to at least get four points.

Northern Michigan at Minnesota State: Northern Michigan is on an absolute tear, going 7-0-2 in its last nine (and as mentioned before, has shut out opponents in its last five). The Wildcats , tied for sixth and just a point ahead of UAH, go to Mankato to play a Minnesota State team that’s in third place and has already clinched a spot in the playoffs (and looking to be home for the first round).

Root for: This one’s easy — Minnesota State to sweep.

Lake Superior State at Alaska: This one’s trickier. Both clubs have “A” tiebreakers (four-game head-to-head advantage) over the Chargers. Lake Superior is only a point ahead, and Alaska is tied.

Remember that UAH only needs to beat out one of these teams to make the playoffs. We want is for whoever is closest to UAH to stay as close as possible, and right now that’s Alaska. So, we should want Lake Superior to win to keep UAH and Alaska tied.

However, should Alaska win on Friday, then Alaska jumps ahead of Lake Superior, and the Lakers become our new target. In that case, we’ll want Alaska to win Saturday.

What we don’t want is a split, which would put distance between UAH and both teams.

Root for: Lake Superior State first. If Alaska wins the first game, root for the Nanooks to sweep.

Feb 112017
 

What a nice end to what’s been a rough home schedule for the Chargers: A win over rival Bemidji State.

UAH scored four unanswered goals to beat BSU 5-2 at the Von Braun Center on Saturday, earning a series split in the Chargers final home game of the season.

BOX SCORE

It was only the second home win for the Chargers (9-20-3 overall, 9-14-3 WCHA), who desperately needed the victory to stay in the hunt for a WCHA playoff spot.

However, Lake Superior State took two points from Alaska Anchorage, and Northern Michigan got another shutout of Alaska, moving both teams ahead of UAH. The Chargers are now tied for eighth place with Alaska, but Alaska has the tiebreaker over UAH for the last playoff spot having gone 2-1-1 in head-to-head meetings.

Bemidji State, which clinched the WCHA regular-season championship on Friday, fell to 19-12-3 overall and 19-5-2 in conference.

WCHA standings
Top 8 make playoffs
Pts. Gms Next wk
5. Ferris State 32 4 vs. UAA
6. N. Michigan 31 4 @ MSU
6. Lake Superior 31 4 @ UAF
8. Alaska* 30 4 vs. LSSU
8. UAH 30 2 Idle
10. AK-Anchorage 27 4 @ FSU
* Alaska has the tiebreaker over UAH (2-1-1 head-to-head)

Brennan Saulnier put UAH on the board first with an unassisted goal at 13:47. His sixth goal of the season matches his total from last year, and he has scored in three straight games and four of the last five.

The Beavers came right back with two quick power play goals. Kyle Bauman notched his team-leading 12th of the season with 4:31 to go in the first, followed by Gerry Fitzgerald’s 10th with 1:58 remaining.

The Chargers put in Carmine Guerriero in goal to start the second period, replacing starter Jordan Uhelski, and he had to warm up quickly as the Beavers had an 8-1 shots advantage in the frame.

That one shot, however, tied the game up at 2-2. On a 2-on-1 break, Saulnier on the left wing centered to a driving Tyler Poulsen, who beat Bitzer five-hole at the 3:11 mark.

Cam Knight also assisted on the play, giving him 16 on the season, the most by a Charger since Brandon Roshko had 17 in 2007-08.

Poulsen struck again at 10:43 to give UAH its first lead of the series, giving him three on the season.

The Chargers added two more in the third period for the win.

With 7:23 left, Matt Salhany drove to the net on the left side with a Beaver covering him. He poked the puck past Bitzer and crashed into the net. Video review confirmed that the puck crossed the goal line before the net came off, giving Salhany his seventh goal of the season and the Chargers a 4-2 lead.

It was only the third time in 33 starts this season that Bitzer had allowed four or more goals.

The Beavers had one more chance after Cody Marooney committed a slashing penalty with 3:10 to go.

Almost immediately on the ensuing power play, Guerriero made a huge glove save on a rocket by Gerry Fitzgerald.

The Beavers pulled Bitzer for the extra attacker, but Salhany was able to get a steal and send the puck to Hans Gorowsky, who scored on the empty net with 1:24 remaining to seal the win for the Chargers. It was Gorowsky’s seventh goal of the season.

Guerriero finished with 23 saves without allowing a goal in two periods of action. Bemidji State outshot UAH 30-25.

UAH is idle next week, which means the Chargers won’t have an opportunity to get more league points until Feb. 24-25, when they finish the regular season at Bowling Green.

Three stars of the game:

1. Tyler Poulsen, UAH (2 goals)
2. Brennan Saulnier, UAH (1 goal, 1 assist)
3. Carmine Guerriero, UAH (23 saves, 0 goals allowed)

Feb 102017
 

It’s a tough position: Falling out of playoff position to an arch-rival, and seeing that rival hoist a championship trophy on your ice.

That’s the result of UAH’s 3-2 loss to Bemidji State at the Von Braun Center on Friday, which dropped the Chargers (8-20-3 overall, 8-14-3 WCHA) to ninth in the WCHA standings and currently out of a playoff spot with three games to go. Northern Michigan moved ahead of UAH after beating Alaska 3-0.

BOX SCORE

Meanwhile, Bemidji State (19-11-3 overall, 19-4-2 WCHA) clinched its first WCHA regular season title when Michigan Tech lost to Ferris State 3-1, then celebrated after withstanding a furious third-period rally by UAH.

The Beavers were presented with the MacNaughton Cup by WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson after the game.

The start of the game was delayed for a few minutes because the lights took a while to come back up after starting lineup introductions. After 48 seconds of action, the UAH end was still noticeably darker, so play was delayed a few minutes more.

The first period was just as lacking in power. Bemidji State had five shots on goal to UAH’s four, with Josh Kestner’s hitting the pipe on a 2-on-1 break being the closest either team would get to scoring.

It was more of the same in the first half of the second period, but then the Beavers assumed control and took the lead. After a steal in the UAH end, Nate Arentz wristed a shot high while falling in the right circle, beating Jordan Uhelski for a 1-0 BSU lead with 7:54 remaining.

The Chargers hurt themselves with a rash of penalties late in the second and early in the third.

On a two-man advantage, Gerry Fitzgerald scored on a one-timer in the left circle to make it 2-0 Beavers just 1:15 into the third.

Jay Dickman increased BSU’s lead to 3-0 six minutes into the third period, and with the Michael Bitzer leading the nation in goals against average and looking sharp, the game appeared to be all but done.

The Chargers refused to go quietly, however. UAH broke through Bemidji State’s top-ranked penalty kill when Brennan Saulnier scored a power play goal, putting in a rebound from the doorstep off a Max McHugh shot with 12:14 left.

It was Saulnier’s fifth goal of the season, assisted by McHugh and Brandon Parker.

Just 38 seconds later, Brent Fletcher in the slot deflected a Connor James shot and suddenly BSU only led 3-2.

Phil Marinaccio was called for interference with 1:46 remaining, giving UAH one last chance with a power play. The Chargers spent the last minute 6-on-4 after pulling Uhelski for the extra attacker.

In that last minute, Parker saw one rocket get gloved by Bitzer, and another shot hit the post. UAH would get one final scramble before the final buzzer.

Bitzer finished with 17 saves on 19 UAH shots, while Uhelski stopped 22 of 25.

Game two of the series and the Chargers’ last home game of the season is Saturday at 3:07 p.m.

Notes: UAH defenseman Kurt Gosselin, who was tied for the team lead in goals with nine, remained out of the lineup with concussion symptoms. Gosselin was hit in the head last Friday at Alaska. … Three stars of the game were Arentz (goal and assist), Fletcher (goal), and Bitzer.

Feb 092017
 
CATCHING THE GAMES
Friday, Feb. 10, 7:07 p.m.
First 500 get free cell phone wallets
Saturday, Feb. 11, 3:07 p.m.
First 500 get UAH hockey trading cards
Ticket information
Kids 12-under get free admission
Season stats: UAH | Bemidji State

The Chargers close out the home regular season schedule against rival Bemidji State at the Von Braun Center on Friday and Saturday.

UAH will try to pull some upsets on the Beavers in order to secure their WCHA playoff position. Bemidji State is a win away from clinching the MacNaughton Cup as the WCHA regular season champion.

All-time series: The Chargers and Beavers will be meeting for the 81st and 82nd time. Bemidji State leads overall 46-29-5, while UAH leads 19-17-3 in Huntsville.

This is the only regular season meeting between the programs this season. Last season, Bemidji State won three of the four meetings (the other being a tie).

Josh Kestner

Josh Kestner has 9 goals and 22 points on the season. (UAH Athletics/Doug Eagan)

Charger recap: UAH (8-19-3 overall, 8-13-3 WCHA) snapped a nine-game winless streak Saturday with a 4-1 victory in Alaska, earning a split with the and staying in eighth place in the WCHA standings. Alaska won the first game, 3-0.

Josh Kestner scored his ninth goal of the season, tying him with Kurt Gosselin for the team lead. Brennan Saulnier, Matt Salhany, and Sean Rappleyea scored the other goals for UAH.

Kestner leads the Chargers with 22 points, followed by Gosselin and Max McHugh with 18. Cam Knight has 17 points, buoyed by a team-leading 14 assists.

Connor James earned his two collegiate points with a pair of assists.

Jordan Uhelski made 30 saves on 31 shots in the win over Alaska, and 61 saves for the weekend. His goals against average is now at 2.75 and his save percentage up to .907. He is 6-7-3 in 17 starts.

UAH Tale of the tape
(WCHA games only)
Bemidji State
8-19-3 Overall record 18-11-3
8-13-3-0
(27 pts, 8th)
WCHA record 18-4-2-2
(58 pts, 1st)
2.54 (7th) Goals/game 2.62 (6th)
3.38 (10th) Goals allowed/game 1.42 (1st)
15.0 (5th) Pen. minutes/game 10.0 (10th)
14.8% (T5th) Power play 20.4% (1st)
78.3% (10th) Penalty kill 93.5% (1st)

About the Beavers: Bemidji State (18-11-3 overall, 18-4-2 WCHA) can clinch the WCHA regular season title with a win over the Chargers or a Michigan Tech loss to Ferris State. The Beavers swept Tech by scores of 4-2 and 3-0 last week.

The Beavers are not a high-powered offense, but they don’t need to be with a defense that ranks the best in all of Division I in goals per game (1.81). Anchoring the defense is junior goaltender Michael Bitzer, who leads the nation with a 1.61 goals against average, is sixth in the country with a .935 save percentage, and is tied for the D-I lead with five shutouts.

Also tough to penetrate is BSU’s penalty kill, which also ranks the best in the country at 89.5 percent. That’s for the rare time they need it, as the Beavers are one of the least penalized teams in the nation.

Senior Phillip Marinaccio leads Bemidji State with 23 points on nine goals and 14 assists. The goal-scoring leader is junior Kyle Bauman, who has 11.

Around the WCHA: Series to watch as we head to the final stretch toward the playoffs:

Ferris State at Michigan Tech: Ferris State is tied for 6th, two points ahead of UAH. Michigan Tech has a six-point lead for 2nd, but needs to win and Bemidji State to lose to stay in contention for the MacNaughton Cup.

Alaska at Northern Michigan: Alaska is in 5th, just three points ahead of UAH. Northern Michigan is 9th but only two points behind the Chargers.

Alaska Anchorage at Lake Superior State: Anchorge is in 10th, but the Seawolves are not out of it, only five points behind UAH for 8th. Lake Superior is tied with Ferris State for 6th, also two points ahead of the Chargers.

All times Central. Games featuring WCHA teams at home can be seen on WCHA.tv.

Friday, February 10
* Bemidji State at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
* Ferris State at Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m.
* Alaska at Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
* Alaska Anchorage at Lake Superior State, 6:37 p.m.

Saturday, February 11
* Bemidji State at UAH, 3:07 p.m.
* Ferris State at Michigan Tech, 4:07 p.m.
* Alaska at Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
* Alaska Anchorage at Lake Superior State, 6:07 p.m.
Mercyhurst at Bowling Green, 4:07 p.m.