Feb 282015

Colton Parayko’s goal 15 seconds into overtime gave Alaska a 4-3 win on Saturday, completing a two-game sweep over the Chargers and delaying UAH’s playoff clinching a little while longer.

UAH (8-22-4 overall, 7-18-1 WCHA) still has not clinched a WCHA playoff berth going into the final week of the regular season. The Chargers either need a win or tie at Bowling Green or Alaska-Anchorage to either lose or tie against Alaska.

Alaska, ineligible for the postseason, improved to 17-13-2 overall and 12-12-2 in the WCHA.

Before the game, UAH’s five seniors —  Craig Pierce, Ben Reinhardt, Doug Reid, Graeme Strukoff, and Jeff Vanderlugt — were honored for the contributions to the program. All five seniors started, and it didn’t take long to make an impact.

The captain Reid shot one from the left circle, hit the post and past Alaska goaltender Sean Cahill just 20 seconds in to give UAH a 1-0 lead. It was Reid’s third goal of the season, assisted by Jeff Vanderlugt.

Alaska would capitalize on power plays to take the lead. The Nanooks’ leading scorer, Tyler Morley, backhanded a rebound past Carmine Guerriero after a Ben Reinhardt tripping penalty to tie the game at 1-1 with 8:02 left in the first.

Brennan Saulnier’s elbowing call with 3:38 left in the first put UAH shorthanded again, and it took Colton Parayko just 12 seconds to rip one through traffic give Alaska a 2-1 lead.

The Chargers quickly equalized the game thanks to their own leading scorer. Max McHugh notched his ninth goal of his freshman campaign with a shot from the top of the circle just 49 seconds after Parayko’s tally. Frank Misuraca got the assist.

The first period would end at a 2-2 tie, but Alaska continued its shots dominance from Friday with a 17-7 advantage.

McHugh struck again at 6:37 of the second, deflecting a Frank Misuraca spot from the right point, sneaking the puck past Cahill’s right as UAH retook the lead at 3-2. With his 10th goal, McHugh became the first Charger with double-digit goals since Matt Sweazey had 12 in the 2008-09 season. Misuraca and Reinhardt got the assists.

Alaska re-tied the game at 3-3 just before the second intermission. Trevor Campbell’s shot through traffic found its way past Guerriero with 6.3 seconds left in the second period.

The third period went by quickly with no goals and no penalties. Then came overtime, and Parayko’s blast from the right point.

Alaska outshot the Chargers 41-19. Carmine Guerriero stopped 37 shots for UAH, while Cahill made 16 saves.

UAH will finish the regular season next weekend at Bowling Green.

Feb 272015

Alaska scored four unanswered goals, erasing a 2-0 deficit to beat UAH 4-2 on Friday at the Von Braun Center.

UAH (8-21-4 overall, 7-17-1 WCHA) was outshot 41-15 for the game. The Chargers’ magic number to clinch a WCHA playoff spot dropped to one after Alaska-Anchorage lost 4-3 to Bowling Green late Friday night. A UAH win or tie or an Anchorage loss or tie puts the Chargers in the playoffs.

Alaska, which is ineligible for the postseason, improved to 16-13-2 overall and 11-12-2 in the WCHA.

The Chargers have their home season finale Saturday night at 7. It will be Senior Night, and the first 500 fans receive a mini space shuttle, courtesy of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

Carmine Guerriero came up big in a hectic first period that saw the Nanooks outshoot the Chargers 13-4.

Despite this, the Chargers took the first lead of the game. Alaska’s Marcus Basara cross-checked UAH’s Alex Carpenter, and on the ensuing power play, a scrum in front of Nanook goaltender Sean Cahill led to a goal with 1:52 remaining.

Brandon Carlson got credit for his fifth goal of the season, and he was assisted by Carpenter (his fifth) and Cody Champage (his third).

Alaska had more chances early in the second period after a questionable five-minute major penalty and game misconduct was called on Jeff Vanderlugt. Guerriero made three saves during the Alaska power play, but they were early in the advantage as the Nanooks could not get it set up afterward.

UAH responded by increasing their lead. Josh Kestner beat Sean Cahill on a breakway to make it 2-0 Chargers at the 9:26 mark of the second, right after Garrick Perry found iron for the Nanooks. It was Kestner’s third goal of the season, helped by Ben Reinhardt’s second assist.

Alaska kept putting rubber on Guerriero, and finally found the net at 14:14 of the second. Marcus Basara cut UAH’s lead to 2-1, which would be the score after two periods despite Alaska holding a 29-7 shots on goal advantage.

Things fell apart for the Chargers as they gave up three goals in the third period. Tyler Morley tied the game at 2-2 on a shorthanded goal with 9:17 left. It was UAH’s eighth short handed goal allowed this season.

Kestner was penalized for kneeing with 5:07 to go, and Basara notched his second goal of the game just seven seconds later to give Alaska a 3-2 lead.

Colton Sparrow then added the insurance goal for the Nanooks with 3:27 to go.

Guerriero finished with 37 saves. Cahill had 13 for Alaska.

Feb 262015
Times: 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Tickets: Ticketmaster: Friday | Saturday
Complete ticket information
Promotions: Kids 12 & under get free admission
Fri.: UAH trading cards to first 500
Sat.: Mini shuttles to first 500
Online video: WCHA.tv (subscription)
Live stats: UAHChargers.com
Twitter: @weloveuahhockey, @uahhockey, @Alaska_Hockey

Three points. That’s the magic number for the Chargers as they host Alaska this weekend as a WCHA playoff berth is in sight. Puck drop is at 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights in the Chargers’ final home games of the season.

A minimum of a win and a tie puts UAH in the WCHA playoffs for the first time. Consequently, a loss and a tie for Alaska-Anchorage against Bowling Green also does the trick, or any combination of points for UAH and points against UAA totaling three.

Friday night, the first 500 fans receive a set of UAH hockey trading cards. Saturday night is Senior Night, and the first 500 fans receive a free mini space shuttle courtesy of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Kids 12 and under get in free to both games, courtesy Huntsville International Airport.

All-time series: The Chargers are 6-16-1 all-time against the Nanooks, and 3-4-1 in Huntsville. Alaska has won the last eight meetings, with UAH’s last victory coming on Jan. 11, 1992 — when Alaska forfeited a 8-3 win for using an ineligible player. The Chargers last “true” win came the day before, 6-1, at the Von Braun Center.

The two teams met in Fairbanks earlier this season, with the Nanooks taking both games: 2-1 in overtime and 4-0.

Jeff Vanderlugt

Jeff Vanderlugt scored his sixth goal of the season against Ferris State. (Photo by Chris Brightwell)

Charger recap: UAH (8-20-4 overall, 7-16-1 WCHA) lost a pair of one-goal games at home to Ferris State.

On Friday, Ferris State dominated the first period with two goals. Code Champagne’s goal early in the third period gave UAH life, but the Chargers ultimately fell 2-1 in front of a sparse crowd thanks to snow and ice in Huntsville.

The attendance was better Saturday as the snow melted, and so was UAH’s start, as Jeff Vanderlugt put the Chargers on the board first. But the Bulldogs answered with three straight goals and held on for a 3-2 win. Alex Carpenter had the other goal for UAH.

UAH goaltender Carmine Guerriero had 32 saves on Friday night and 26 on Saturday. His season save percentage of .928 is second in the WCHA, and he has a 2.46 goals against average this season.

Max McHugh continues to lead the Chargers in scoring with 19 points, which is tied for third among freshmen in the WCHA, and in goals with eight.

Other top scorers for UAH are Jack Prince (5-9-14), Chad Brears (3-10-13), Jeff Vanderlugt (6-6-12), and Brandon Parker. Frank Misuraca is tied with Vanderlugt for second on the team in goals with six.

UAH Tale of the tape
(WCHA rank)
7-16-1 WCHA (8th)
Record 15-13-2
10-12-2 WCHA (7th)
1.69 (9th) Goals/game 2.67 (5th)
3.12 (8th) Goals allowed/game 2.47 (6th)
15.8 (2nd) Pen. minutes/game 14.5 (3rd)
16.3% (5th) Power play 16.4% (4th)
83.0% (8th) Penalty kill 83.6% (7th)

About the Nanooks: Alaska (15-13-2 overall, 10-12-2 WCHA) are ineligible for the WCHA playoffs because of an NCAA postseason ban announced earlier this season, but the Nanooks are enjoying the spoiler role.

Last weekend, UAF hosted top ranked and WCHA leader Minnesota State and earned a 1-1 tie and a 3-1 victory. The Nanooks are undefeated in their last four games.

However, those four games were in Fairbanks, where they are 10-5-1 this season. The Nanooks are 3-8-1 on the road, although one of those wins — their last road win on Dec. 5 — was at Minnesota State.

Junior center Tyler Morley is the engine behind the Nanooks’ offense. He leads the team in goals (13), assists (19), and points (32), and he had three goals against the Mavericks last weekend. Sophomore right wing Marcus Basara is Alaska’s other double-digit goal scorer with 10, and junior defenseman and St. Louis Blues prospect Colton Parayko has 16 assists.

Senior goaltender Sean Cahill has been back in action after missing 13 games due to injury. He has allowed only one goal in each of his last four starts, and he has a 2.06 goals against average and a .923 save percentage for the season. Sophomore Davis Jones, who shut out the Chargers in the second game in Fairbanks while Cahill was out, is the backup.

WCHA Standings Record Pts.
Minnesota State** 19-3-2 40
Michigan Tech** 19-4-1 39
Bowling Green* 14-7-3 31
Bemidji State* 10-10-4 24
Northern Michigan* 10-10-4 24
Ferris State* 11-13-0 22
Alaska^ 10-12-2 22
Alabama-Huntsville 7-16-1 15
Lake Superior State 6-17-1 13
Alaska-Anchorage 4-18-2 10
** Clinched home ice in first round
* Clinched playoff berth
^ Ineligible for postseason play

Around the WCHA: Alaska’s three-point weekend against Minnesota State tightened the race for the MacNaughton Cup, which could be decided this weekend in a huge showdown in Mankato.

No. 2 Minnesota State leads No. 3 Michigan Tech by one point as the two top teams in the WCHA square off. Two wins by the Mavericks will clinch them their first regular-season league title.

No. 11 Bowling Green needs one win to clinch home ice in the first round as they head to Alaska-Anchorge. Bemidji State and Ferris State tussle in Big Rapids looking to host in the first round, while Northern Michigan has the same aspirations while hosting Lake Superior State.

Here’s the schedule for league teams this week. All times are Central. All games can be seen online on WCHA TV.

Friday, February 27

Alaska at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State at Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
#3 Michigan Tech at #2 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
#11 Bowling Green at Alaska-Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.

Saturday, February 28

Alaska at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State at Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
#3 Michigan Tech at #2 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
#11 Bowling Green at Alaska-Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.

Feb 242015
2014-15 seniors

The 2014-15 seniors. Top to bottom: Jeff Vanderlugt, Graeme Strukoff, Craig Pierce, Doug Reid, Ben Reinhardt, Alex Carpenter. (Photo by UAH Athletics/Doug Eagan)

Saturday night will be final time coming off the Propst Arena ice for six senior Chargers. They will be honored before the final home game of the season against Alaska.

The 2014-15 seniors are:

Alex Carpenter (Portage, Mich.): Alex transferred to UAH after two years at Western Michigan last season and sat it out because of NCAA transfer rules. He became a regular in the lineup, with three goals and four assists in 30 games.

Craig Pierce (Roswell, Ga.): Craig became an alternate captain this season. In 101 career games with the Chargers, he has nine goals and five assists. He is 3-1-4 this season in 22 games.

Doug Reid (Innisfil, Ont.): Captain of the Chargers the last two years. Doug has played in 120 career games at UAH, scoring four goals and dishing 12 assists.

Ben Reinhardt (Arnprior, Ont.): A defenseman who led the team in blocks last season, Ben returned to the lineup from injury last weekend. In 97 career games at UAH, he has eight assists.

Graeme Strukoff (Chilliwack, B.C.): Graeme has played 114 games at defenseman for UAH, scoring four goals and 14 assists for 18 points.

Jeff Vanderlugt (Richmond Hill, Ont.): Jeff has the most career points on this year’s Charger squad with 32, scoring 19 goals and 13 assists in 101 games. He led the Chargers in goals with seven in the 2012-13 season.

Westy back in Huntsville: Lance West, assistant coach for Alaska, has now coached against his alma mater in two series. Both of those were in Fairbanks, so this weekend’s series will be the first time he’s been on a coaches bench at the VBC since he was an assistant for UAH under Doug Ross from 2000-07.

West is in his fifth season as a Nanooks assistant coach. He is 15th on the Chargers’ all-time varsity scoring list with 113 points on 45 goals and 68 assists, playing from 1991-95.

Mini shuttles will be given away to the first 500 fans at Saturday's game.

Mini shuttles will be given away to the first 500 fans at Saturday’s game.

This week’s promotions: On Friday night, the first 500 fans will receive a set of UAH hockey trading cards. The first 500 fans to Saturday’s game receive a free mini-shuttle courtesy of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Puck drop is 7:07 p.m. both nights.

Kids 12 and under get free admission to both games courtesy of Huntsville International Airport.

Blue Line Club luncheon: For the last time this season, come meet and greet with the coaches at the Blue Line Club luncheon. Alaska head coach Dallas Ferguson and 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.

Feb 232015

A winter storm hit the Tennessee Valley on Friday. Snow fell in the afternoon, changing to freezing rain by the evening, covering roads with a sheet of ice. Many roads were closed.

The Chargers played at the Von Braun Center that night, losing to Ferris State, 2-1. Some may question: Why did the game go on?

“What helped this past Friday was the fact that Ferris stayed at the Embassy Suites and that all our guys live less than four miles from the VBC and have to get to the rink early in game days,” according to UAH Director of Athletics Dr. E.J. Brophy. “This solidified the fact that we would have a hockey game.”

Essentially, if the opponent is here, the games will go on. This has been the way for over 30 years.

It’s common knowledge that our hockey opponents, unlike for UAH’s other sports, are not nearby. Some travel by plane, and/or have lengthy bus rides, as our boys know all too well when they go north to play. They can’t cancel or postpone on the chance that there might be snow or ice in Huntsville. Typically, they deal with worse winter weather conditions for their own home games during the season (although they are more prepared to handle it).

The Chargers salute the few in attendance of Friday's game. (Photo by UAH Athletics/Doug Eagan)

The Chargers salute the fans after Friday’s game. (Photo by UAH Athletics/Doug Eagan)

The announced attendance for Friday’s game was 833. Of course, as is standard practice just about anywhere in sports, that number includes season ticket sales, so the actual number of people in the stands was significantly less than that. Still, it was UAH’s lowest recorded attendance since Jan. 10, 1997.

When it comes to winter weather situations, though, the attendance doesn’t matter. We know the travel conditions are going to prevent fans from coming. All UAH can do is play the games and take the attendance hit.

Brophy added: “It was definitely bare bones regarding vendors, off ice officials (some could not get there due to icy roads), and volunteer help, but we pulled it all together and made it work. Our number one goal was to have a quality college hockey game and we achieved that goal.”

Fortunately, this situation is very rare, but it’s not the first time that winter weather in Huntsville and UAH hockey have crossed paths.

That game on Jan. 10, 1997? The attendance was 574, the lowest in UAH’s varsity hockey history, for a 9-0 win over Bentley. Primary cause: It snowed all afternoon.

I worked in the UAH sports information department at the time, and the dusting that covered the grass when I arrived at the VBC turned into a two inches when I left. While that in itself wasn’t much, like Friday of this week it had done a number on the untreated roads, making travel rather difficult. I lived in Madison, but to be safe I only went as far as UAH and stayed with friends on campus overnight.

That was also a Friday. I was back at the VBC the next afternoon to work the game as the Chargers finished a sweep of Bentley, 7-3. Attendance for that game was 1,007.

But nothing compares to what happened 30 years ago this month. On February 1, 1985, an ice storm dumped several inches of ice and snow, paralyzing north Alabama, knocking out power for days. Yet, UAH played two games against Notre Dame at the Von Braun Civic Center. This was during the Chargers’ last season at the club level. Longtime supporter Terry Long describes his experience:

It’s Friday morning, February 1, 1985. I’m attending a technical short course in Sarasota, Fla. My wife has declined to join me for the weekend because Notre Dame hockey is coming to Huntsville.

Someone calls me out of the lecture telling me that I have an emergency phone call. My wife is frantic telling me that there are five inches of ice on the ground and roads, more is predicted, 50,000 homes are without power in the city, the Notre Dame hockey team is already in town, UAH has announced that the game will be played as scheduled, and come home to take her to the game.

The officials and the Notre Dame team were staying at the Hilton [now the Holiday Inn], which is across the street from the arena. And, the main power lines for the core of the city came into a station about a block from the arena. Given that the participants could skate to one of the few places in the area with power, the game was going to proceed.

I grew up slightly north of here where people actually navigated on ice and snow in the winter. And, I had a vehicle equipped with studded snow tires and a positive-traction rear-end.

Being concerned about the damage that may be occurring to our property, I decided to try to get home. Knowing that jets probably wouldn’t be landing in Huntsville, I made my reservations on a commuter airline that flew Twin Otter aircraft into Huntsville. That was wise because the jet flights were all indeed canceled by the time I got to Atlanta. After arriving in Huntsville, I then found an intrepid van driver who took over an hour to travel the few miles from the airport to our flatland home on the west side of Huntsville.

Well, we made it to game. The sight from the front steps of the VBC of transformers continuing to create blue fireballs in the remaining areas with power is still memorable. The announced attendance was 154.

Johnny Robinson, a.k.a. Squiggy, was the referee. It was a great game. The final score was 7-7. At one point, there were five men from each side in the penalty boxes. And, there was even a goalie-goalie altercation at center ice. It was a true Squiggy game, for those who remember him.

UAH beat Notre Dame the following night 9-4 with 2,152 in attendance. After the games, Notre Dame coach Lefty Smith made a great sour grapes comment that we still quote. After first blaming “a few bad calls,” he chimed “goaltending does a lot to equalize a better team.”