Jan 272015
 

Ten games to go. It’s been a while since UAH hockey has had meaningful games down the stretch.

The Chargers find themselves tied with Lake Superior State for eight place in the WCHA with 20 points. UAH has two games in hand, and are two points up on Alaska-Anchorage The top eight teams make the WCHA playoffs, not counting postseason-ineligible Alaska.

UAH is only one point behind seventh-place Bemidji State, but also only four points behind Ferris State and Northern Michigan, who are tied for fourth. The top four get to host the first round of the playoffs. It will take some masterful play against some tough opponents to earn one of those coveted spots.

Here’s how the remaining schedule break down:

  • Away at Michigan Tech, Friday-Saturday: Arguably the toughest series is this next series. Back in November, the Chargers were swept by the Huskies, now ranked 8th in the nation, in Huntsville. The 4-2 and 5-2 scores at home were more competitive than last year’s games in Houghton, where UAH was blown away 4-1 and 10-4. Points here will go a long way.
  • Away at Lake Superior State, Feb. 13-14: The Chargers get a week off before heading to the Soo, where they’ll face a Lakers team fight they didn’t have the first half of the season, primarily thanks to the hot goaltending of Gordon Defiel. UAH and LSSU split their series in Huntsville back in November, with Defiel getting a 1-0 shutout.
  • Home vs. Ferris State, Feb. 20-21: UAH surprised many by nabbing a win in Big Rapids against C.J. Motte and the Bulldogs on November 21. The Chargers may benefit at home against a Ferris State team that has hovered around .500 while having trouble scoring consistently.
  • Home vs. Alaska, Feb. 27-28: It’s been a roller-coaster season for the Nanooks, who received a postseason ban from the NCAA in October. Alaska would love to play spoiler (and could very well) in Lance West’s homecoming, but the ‘Nooks have had difficulties on the road.
  • Away at Bowling Green, March 6-7: The Falcons have joined the upper echelon of the league this season, and could still be battling for the MacNaughton Cup in the regular-season finale. Could another MisuRocket™ stun the BG faithful and perhaps clinch a playoff berth for the Chargers?

What will happen? Watch for Geof Morris’s calculations on The WCHA Playoff Prediction Blog in the coming weeks.

Watch the boys on the road: Charger fans an get together to watch UAH hockey road games the rest of the season at two Huntsville locations.

On campus, UAH students can watch the games at Charger Union’s World of Wings, thanks to UAH Student Affairs.

Games can also be seen at The Office Break Room and Bar, for those who are adult beverage inclined.

Teets commits: UAH received another commitment last week, as John Teets announced he would play for the Chargers.

Teets is a 6-3, 200-pound defenseman from Fairbanks, Alaska, currently playing for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the North American Hockey League. Teets has three goals and 13 assists for the Ice Dogs this season.

His Ice Dogs teammate, foward Adam Wilcox, committed to UAH back in December.

Also see: Penalty Box Radio had a feature Tuesday exploring the improvement of the Chargers this season. Justin Bradford talked with UAH coach Mike Corbett, rising star goaltender Carmine Guerriero, and top-scoring freshman Max McHugh about how the work the team has put in is paying off.

Jan 252015
 

UAH showed the could battle with the best talent in America for two days. Although these were exhibition games, the results were still two heartbreaking defeats.

Jeremy Bracco scored the game-winner on a breakaway with 26 seconds left, then got the empty net goal to seal the deal with nine seconds to go to give Team USA a 4-2 victory over the Chargers to finish a two-game exhibition sweep at the Von Braun Center on Sunday.

Team USA outshot UAH 43-13, but the final result was in doubt for about the entire game, similar to Team USA’s 2-1 overtime win on Saturday.

Like Saturday, UAH scored the first goal of the contest. This time, Brandon Carlson did the honors during the Chargers’ second power play, putting in a rebound past Team USA goaltender Luke Opilka at the 8:15 mark. Alex Carpenter and Frank Misuraca, who fired the initial shot from the right point, got the assists.

Another similarity to Friday night’s game was Team USA’s dominance of the second period. Team USA outshot the Chargers 17-3 in the second after leading 17-1 the night before.

Fortunately, Team USA could not parlay it into a lead. They were able to tie the game at 1 on Colin White’s tally at 4:12.

At 9:45, on only the Chargers’ second shot of the period, Alex Carpenter ripped one from near the left circle, beating Opilka on the top left corner to give UAH a 2-1 advantage. He was assisted by Brennan Saulnier and Matt Salhany.

Just 52 seconds later, Team USA knotted the game at 2 as Jack Roslovic was able to shove the puck past UAH goaltender Matt Larose.

The Chargers put the body on Team USA to start the third, but Cody Marooney had a slashing penalty at 9:52 — necessary to stop Team USA from taking the lead.

UAH killed the ensuing power play, but Team USA used it to gain momentum in the Charger end. UAH did not have many chances the rest of the way.

With 1:30 to go in regulation, Larose stopped Brendan Warren’s breakaway opporunity. Then another defensive lapse gave Bracco his own breakaway, which he converted to give Team USA the 3-2 lead.

UAH immediately pulled Larose for the extra attacker, but Bracco the puck and scored the empty-netter for the final result.

Larose finished another solid outing with 39 saves. He stopped 31 of 33 shots on Saturday when he played the second period on.

Next week, the Chargers begin the stretch run in the race for a WCHA playoff berth. UAH, currently tied with Lake Superior State for eighth place in the league, visits second-place Michigan Tech on Friday and Saturday.

UAH returns home on February 20 and 21 to face Ferris State.

Notes: UAH stopped all three Team USA power plays on Sunday, and all eight for the weekend. UAH was 1-for-5 with the power play for the series. … UAH is now 0-7-1 all-time in exhibitions with the U.S. National Under-18 Team.

Jan 242015
 

The Chargers battled with the best of America’s young hockey talent, but fell 2-1 in overtime against the U.S. National Under-18 Team in a Saturday exhibition game at the Von Braun Center.

Matthew Tkachuk, son of NHL 500-goal scorer Keith, beat UAH goaltender Matt Larose with 40 seconds left in overtime after the Chargers had a couple of chances at victory of their own.

Team USA outshot the Chargers 39-17, but most of that advantage was built in a dominating second period (17-1). Outside of the second, Team USA outshot UAH 22-16.

The Chargers struck first seven minutes in. Frank Misuraca’s shot from the right point rebounded off Team USA goaltender Mike Lackey right to Brennan Saulnier at the doorstep. Saulnier wristed the puck past Lackey for the 1-0 Charger lead.

UAH had opportunities to expand the lead with a two-man advantage in the middle of the first, and Team USA had three power play changes themselves, but neither team could convert.

Charger starting goaltender Carmine Guerriero stopped all six shots he faced.

The second period was all Team USA. The Under-18s got the first 13 shots on goal before Jeff Vanderlugt finally broke the streak with about seven minutes left in the frame. It was UAH’s only shot of the period to Team USA’s 17.

But Team USA could only get one goal on UAH goaltender Matt Larose, who came in for Guerriero in the second. Troy Terry, who has committed to Denver, beat Larose as he drive through the slot to tie the game at 1-1 at the 11:50 mark.

Larose finished with 31 saves on 33 shots in 45 minutes of work. Lackey played the whole game and made 16 saves for Team USA.

UAH and Team USA face off again Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the VBC. The first 1,000 fans get a free UAH hockey team photo.

Notes: Ben Reinhardt returned to the UAH lineup after missing 10 games due to injury. … James Block and Bryan Siersma saw their first action for UAH. … UAH is now 0-6-1 in exhibition games against the U.S. Under-18 Team.

Jan 232015
 
CATCHING THE GAMES
Times: 2:07 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Tickets: Ticketmaster: Saturday | Sunday

Complete ticket information
Promotions: Kids 12 & under get free admission
Sat.: UAH trading cards to first 500
Sun.: UAH team photo to first 1000
Online video: WCHA.tv (subscription)
Live stats: UAHChargers.com
Twitter: @weloveuahhockey, @uahhockey, @usantdp

The Chargers take a break from WCHA play with a two-game exhibition set with the U.S. National Under-18 Development Team. The puck drops at 2:07 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

All-time series: UAH has played the U-18 team six times, with Team USA is 5-0-1 all-time. Two seasons ago, the Chargers lost 6-2 and tied 1-1 in Huntsville. At the time, the U-18 squad was coached by former UAH head coach Danton Cole.

Chargers recap: UAH (7-16-3 overall, 6-12-0 WCHA) extended its home win streak to four games after a sweep of Northern Michigan last weekend.

The Chargers won 2-1 Friday night on goals by Jack Prince and Frank Misuraca. UAH was outshot 33-15 for the game and 14-2 in the third period to hold off the Wildcats. Carmine Guerriero made 32 saves.

UAH won another one-goal game Saturday night by a score of 3-2. Misuraca netted another goal in the first to give the Chargers the early lead, Chad Brears broke a 1-1 tie in the second, and Richard Buri got the game-winner at the 5:35 mark of the third. Guerriero stopped 25 of 27 shots.

Max McHugh’s team-leading 17 points is second among WCHA freshman, just one behind Minnesota State’s C.J. Franklin. He also leads the Chargers in goals with seven, and tied for the team lead with Brandon Parker in assists with 10.

Misuraca’s two goals for the weekend gives him six, one behind McHugh. Jeff Vanderlugt (5-6-11), Prince (4-7-11), and Brears (3-8-11) are tied for second in points.

About the U.S. National Under-18 Team: The Under-18 Team is 25-10-2 playing a schedule comprised of international teams, junior teams from the USHL, and NCAA Division I and III clubs, including Miami, Michigan, Providence College, Boston University, Cornell, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado College, North Dakota, and Michigan State.

Team USA has won three in a row, coming off a two-game sweep of the Dubuque Fighting Saints at their home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Auston Matthews of Scottdale, Arizona, is the team’s leading scorer with 27 goals and 28 assists for 55 points. Jeremy Bracco (Boston College commit) has 51 points, leading the team in assists with 36. Matthew Tkachuk, son of former NHL star Keith Tkachuk, also has 20 goals.

Goaltending duties are split between Luke Opilka (Wisconsin commit), who has a 3.07 goals against average and an .883 save percentage with two shutouts, and Michael Lackey (Harvard), who has a 2.91 GAA and .891 save percentage.

WCHA Standings Record Pts.
Minnesota State 15-2-1 31
Michigan Tech 11-4-1 23
Bowling Green 10-2-2 22
Ferris State 8-8-0 16
Northern Michigan 6-8-4 16
Alaska* 7-10-1 15
Bemidji State 5-8-3 13
Alabama-Huntsville 6-12-0 12
Lake Superior State 5-13-0 10
Alaska-Anchorage 4-10-2 10
* Ineligible for postseason play

Around the WCHA: Only two conference series this weekend, and a very interesting non-conference tournament up in Minnesota.

Sixth-ranked Bowling Green, coming off a split at Michigan Tech and looking to keep hot, hosts Lake Superior, which surprised Bemidji State with a sweep in the Soo last week. Tech, now at No. 10, entertains Alaska, which suffered a sweep in Fairbanks at the hands of their hated rivals from Anchorage.

The North Star Cup features four of the five Division I programs in Minnesota, and this year Bemidji State joins Minnesota State in the tournament. The Beavers play No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth on Friday afternoon, while No. 1 Minnesota State battles No. 17 Minnesota in the nightcap. The third place and championship games are Saturday.

Here’s the schedule for league teams the next two weeks. All times are Central. Games involving WCHA teams at home can be seen online on WCHA TV.

Friday, January 23

* Lake Superior State at #6 Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.
* Alaska at #10 Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m.
Bemidji State vs. #7 Minnesota-Duluth at St. Paul, Minn. (North Star Cup), 4 p.m.
Northern Michigan at Penn State, 6 p.m.
#1 Minnesota State vs. #17 Minnesota at St. Paul, Minn. (North Star Cup), 7 p.m.

Saturday, January 24

U.S. National Under-18 Team at UAH (exhibition), 2:07 p.m.
* Lake Superior State at #6 Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.
* Alaska at #10 Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m.
Northern Michigan at Penn State, 3:30 p.m.
North Star Cup third place game, 4 p.m.
North Star Cup championship game, 7 p.m.

Sunday, January 25

U.S. National Under-18 Team at UAH (exhibition), 2:07 p.m.

* WCHA game.

Jan 202015
 

This weekend’s games don’t count to UAH’s record, but they still mean something.

The Chargers, fresh off their sweep of Northern Michigan at the Von Braun Center, host the USA National Under-18 Team this weekend for two exhibition games. Game times are 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

“You’ve got the most talented 17- and 18-year-olds in the country,” coach Mike Corbett said after Saturday’s UAH victory. “You’ve got four or five kids who are going to be first-round NHL draft picks. There will probably be some NHL general managers in the building. We don’t want to take a step back.”

Perhaps a couple of our boys will catch the eyes of those GMs. Most of the players on the U-18 roster are committed to big-time Division I programs, so this will be an interesting mid-season test.

UAH has played the U-18 team six times, with Team USA is 5-0-1 all-time. Two seasons ago, the Chargers lost 6-2 and tied 1-1 in Huntsville. At the time, the U-18 squad was coached by former UAH head coach Danton Cole.

UAH Penalty Shots
Modern D-I era (since 1999)
Player Opponent Result Date
Dwayne Blais Iona success 11/4/2000
Kevin Morrison Air Force success 10/8/2006
Tom Train Princeton fail 12/1/2006
Justin Cseter Omaha fail 1/28/2011
Matt Salhany Northern Michigan fail 1/17/2015

Penalty shots: Matt Salhany was awarded UAH’s first penalty shot in four years when he was tripped up by Northern Michigan’s Jake Baker on Saturday. Alas, Salhany failed in the attempt.

The last Charger penalty shot was by Justin Cseter, who also failed to score at Nebraska-Omaha on Jan. 28, 2011. The last successful UAH penalty shot was by Kevin Morrison at Air Force on Oct. 8, 2006. UAH is 2-for-5 on penalty shots in its modern Division I era (1999-present).

The last penalty shot against the Chargers was Oct. 23, 2009, when Western Michigan’s Cam Watson beat Cam Talbot. Opponents are also 2-for-5 on penalty shots against UAH in the modern Division I era.

Stat pack: 

  • Carmine Guerriero’s .933 save percentage is second in the WCHA behind Bowling Green’s Chris Nell, and is 12th in Division I.
  • Max McHugh’s 17 points is second among WCHA freshman, just one behind Minnesota State’s C.J. Franklin.
  • The Chargers have started another string of successful penalty kills, now up to 13 after last weekend. Again, they’ve had the most practice, with 139 power plays against — by far the most in Division I. Their season penalty kill is 84.9 percent, sixth in the WCHA.

WCHA leading the Top 10: While only six points separate fourth and tenth in the WCHA standings, the top three have separated themselves from the pack. And those three are in the top 10 in this week’s USCHO.com poll.

No. 1 Minnesota State retained the top spot and more than doubled the number of first-place votes (42) after last weekend’s sweep at Ferris State.

The Mavericks have opened an eight-point lead atop the standings over Bowling Green, which split the WCHA’s marquee series at Michigan Tech and moved up one spot to No. 6.

Michigan Tech, whom the Chargers play next week in Houghton, Mich., also moved up a notch to No. 10.

This week’s promotions: On Saturday, the first 500 fans will receive a set of UAH hockey trading cards. The first 1000 fans to Sunday’s game receive a free UAH hockey team photo. As always this season, kids 12 and under get free admission courtesy of Huntsville International Airport.

Blue Line Club luncheon: Before every home series, come meet and greet with the coaches at the Blue Line Club luncheon. UAH head coach Mike Corbett will speak this Friday at noon in the Varsity Room at Spragins Hall.

Terranova’s is catering. Tickets are $8 at the door, and free for Blue Line Club members.