Apr 062015
 

Last Wednesday night was the end of season banquet for the Chargers, who celebrated the strides made in the 2014-15 season and looked forward to the next step in the program’s growth.

Sophomore goaltender Carmine Guerriero was the team’s Most Valuable Player of the 2014-15 season. Guerriero had a .928 save percentage, fourth-best in UAH history, and a 2.56 goals against average, fifth-best in program history.

Defensive Player of the Year went to junior Frank Misuraca, who led UAH defensemen in goals with six goals. He was second among Chargers with 69 blocks.

After making the WCHA All-Rookie Team and leading the Chargers in scoring with 23 points, Max McHugh was an obvious choice for Freshman of the Year.

The Charger of the Year Award, which goes to the player who exemplifies what it means to be a UAH Charger, went to senior Craig Pierce. The Roswell, Ga., native became an alternate captain this season, scoring three goals in 28 games and battling a wrist injury.

Also announced were the 2015-16 captains. Junior Brent Fletcher will don the “C” for the Chargers next season, with seniors Frank Misuraca and Chad Brears being the alternate captains.

Press release from UAHChargers.com

Apr 032015
 

The 2015 UAH Hockey Frenchy Open presented by CNTS Investments LLC will tee off at 1 p.m. on June 6 at Huntsville Country Club.

The golf tournament is the program’s biggest summer fundraising event. The tournament layout will be a four-player scramble with prizes going to the top three teams. Raffle and door prizes will be available.

Register online to reserve your spot. Registration per player is $150, which includes 18 holes of golf, a cart, a UAH Hockey polo shirt, refreshments, and dinner. Full four-player teams can register for $600.

Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information, can call 256-824-2485 or email Nick Laurila.

In addition, there will be an UAH alumni hockey game at the Wilcoxon Municipal Ice Complex in Huntsville on June 5 at 7 p.m.

“The Frenchy Open” is named after Charger left wing Jean-Marc Plante, who died in 2001. Also known as “Frenchy,” the Laval, Quebec, native played for UAH from 1988-92, scoring 16 goals and 19 assists in 94 games. Plante worked at the front office of the Florida Panthers and became the athletic marketing director at UAH. A memorial scholarship is awarded in his honor to the Charger hockey player who demonstrates leadership, sportsmanship, and team spirit, and who participates in community and university volunteer service.

Mar 222015
 

Editor’s note: We’ve reviewed the 2014-15 season, now let’s take a look at who’s coming in for 2015-16. This analysis comes from one of our regular posters in the UAH thread of the USCHO.com forums, who wished not to be named. He follows junior hockey more closely than either me or Geof, and we appreciate him allowing us to share this on UAHHockey.com. Remember that this site is independent of UAH and the hockey program, neither of which can comment on recruits until they have signed a NCAA National Letter of Intent. Also, this was written before the announced commitments of Madison Dunn and Hans Gorowsky. See our Commitments page for more information. — Michael Napier

It’s that time of year when junior seasons start wrapping up, and I thought I’d give an update on our recruits for this upcoming 2015-2016 season. I’ve followed our boys pretty closely and honestly believe this is the best class UAH has brought in in the last 10 or so years. I don’t think we’re done quite yet either. Here’s what I think will be next year’s incoming class:

Forwards

Brandon Salerno - Pickering Panthers (OJHL), 49 GP, 30 G, 39 A, 69 Pts

After starting the year in Huntsville, but having NCAA Clearinghouse issues, he put up some fine numbers in the OJ. Sure, moving from Waterloo (USHL) in 2013-14 to Pickering this year was a step down in terms of competition, but I think it was a great move for him to regain his confidence. He played only sparingly in Waterloo and was often times a healthy scratch. In Pickering, he was “the” player on an average team and he put up well over a point per game. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s got Salhany-type speed and has a knack for making plays. Salerno is a legit Division I prospect who we’ll see on special teams from day one. Arguably the top forward coming in. Check out this player of the week video and you’ll see what I’m talking about. His season’s done after Pickering failed to make the OJHL playoffs.

Jetlan Houcher (Photo by Fort McMurray Oil Barons)

Jetlan Houcher (Photo by Fort McMurray Oil Barons)

Jetlan Houcher - Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL), 60 GP, 39 G, 32 A, 71 Pts

Excellent numbers on an average AJHL team. Everything I’ve seen and read indicates he’s a pure goal scorer. Got a great shot with a quick release; the kid can score. He’s done it at every level he’s played at. Got to wonder if skating is an issue considering he isn’t already in college somewhere, but I highly doubt it’s a huge hindrance given his numbers. Houcher has been everything for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons this year. He’s the captain, and with 22 more points than the next closest player on the roster, they’ll be making the playoffs due in no small part to his contributions. A good kid and a leader, Houcher should challenge for top-six minutes right away.

Adam Wilcox - Fairbanks Ice Dogs (NAHL), 41 GP, 5 G, 11 A, 16 Pts

Also a TPH product, Wilcox is from Atlanta and has bounced around junior leagues these past few years. He had a cup of tea with Wichita Falls (NAHL) in 2011-12, spent two season playing sparingly for Houcher’s Oil Barons in the AJHL in 2012-14, and is now with Fairbanks back in the NAHL. Wilcox is fast, big, and strong, and while he’s never going to “wow” you with his offensive abilities, he’s a heart and soul kind of player that every team needs to win. He plays with an edge (evidenced by his 62 PIMs this season) and has a lot of energy. Think Brent Fletcher here folks. Hope his offensive numbers can improve the rest of the reason and into the playoffs. We’ll love his style of play down here in Huntsville and he should be a solid contributor on the bottom six for years to come.

Defensemen

Kurt Gosselin - Alberni Valley Bulldogs (BCHL), 32 GP, 12 G, 31 A, 43 Pts

Playing for Alberni Valley in the BCHL, Gosselin has really come into his own this year. A Michigan native, he has put up a whopping 1.3 points per game as a defenseman. That’s unheard of in most junior leagues. He’s been hurt since mid-January, otherwise those totals would be much higher. And even despite his injury, he was just nominated for Defenseman of the Year for his division. Gosselin has solid size, skating ability, and vision. He’s quarterbacked the power play when healthy and played big minutes. If he can fully come back from his injury, there’s no reason to think he can’t play top four minutes as a freshman.

Cam Knight - Wichita Falls Wildcats (NAHL), 57 GP, 9 G, 24 A, 33 Pts

A teammate of Beaulieu’s on Wichita Falls’ solid team, Knight has put up excellent numbers a defenseman in the NAHL. He’s already surpassed what Cody Champagne did last year and Frank Misuraca did a few years back, and he’s still got some season left. Both of those two right-handed shot defenseman have done well for UAH thus far and Knight should continue that trend. He’s a tough Mass. product with good size, solid skating ability, and a good shot. He’s a two-way defenseman who plays with a chip on his shoulder at times. Would be a good recruit for any school in our league. Like Gosselin, should compete for top four minutes right away.

John Teets - Fairbanks Ice Dogs (NAHL), 58 GP, 3 G, 15 A, 18 Pts

Teets has been a teammate of Wilcox’s for awhile now. Teets played with him for two years on Houcher’s Oil Barons (AJHL) squad, and now with his hometown Fairbanks in the NA. He has great size and plays hard. A stay-at-home defenseman in the truest sense of the word, he’s another heart and soul guy like Wilcox. You need guys like him on a team. Should be a solid contributor on the PK one day. Likely will compete for playing time immediately as a freshman.

2016 and beyond

Austin Beaulieu - Wichita Falls Wildcats (NAHL), 57 GP, 22 G, 30 A, 52 Pts

A former TPH kid from Florida, Beaulieu probably has the highest ceiling of our incoming forwards. Judging by his birthdate, he’s a senior in high school. It’s rare that UAH gets an 18-year-old kid straight out of high school. Most of our guys have near exhausted junior eligibility. Clearly his speed, vision, and playmaking abilities from Midget AAA have translated well at the next level. More of a passer than a goal scorer, Beaulieu has been extremely consistent for Wichita Falls (NAHL) this season, rarely being held off the scoresheet for more than a couple games at a time. It’s his first year of juniors and he’s playing on the top line for a solid team in the U.S.’s second best junior circuit. His season isn’t done yet and Wichita Falls is poised to go deep into the playoffs. Another kid who can legitimately compete for top-six minutes right away.

Ted Rotenberger - Springfield Jr. Blues (NAHL), 38 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt (includes 6 GP with Topeka)

Yet another former TPH kid, and Huntsville native, many of you have likely heard of Rotenberger. His character is reportedly off the charts and he’ll be a welcome addition to the team when he’s ready, but he’s not quite there yet. Defenseman tend to develop slower than forwards at nearly all levels and he needs another year or two to get bigger and stronger and to play more minutes. I just cannot see the coaching staff bringing him in in 2015. Could be wrong, we’ll see.

Connor Wood – Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (NAHL), 57 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 Pts (includes 10 GP with Amarillo)

Also a TPH kid from Atlanta, Wood has had a tough year by the looks of it. He’s a quick, tough, agitator dating back to his TPH days, but that has led to some ridiculous PIM totals (182) this year. Wood can play the scrappy role well and still produce; he did it with TPH. He just needs some more seasoning before he comes to school. He’s sure to get more ice time next year and his offensive numbers will hopefully take a noticeable bump up.

Ivan Bondarenko - Wenatchee Wild (NAHL), 38 GP, 4 G, 10 A, 14 Pts

He’s Russian and has been committed for a long time. I believe the plan was for him to come in in 2016 or 2017 all along. Bondarenko has that Russian explosive flair as seen by his crazy numbers in the now defunct NORPAC league last year (50-51-101 in 37 games played as a 16 year old). He, like Wood and Rotenberger, just needs more time to develop. I imagine he’ll play a lot more next year, but right now he’s counted on for secondary scoring with Wenatchee in the NAHL. Will be following him closely next year.

Mar 182015
 
Photo Credit: Timothy Burns

Photo Credit: Timothy Burns

Jack Prince will playing for a spot on his home country’s national team.

The Charger wing from Leicester, England is on Team Great Britain’s initial 31-man squad preparing for the World Championships in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The team will be pared down to 23 players in two weeks.

Prince scored five goals with nine assists for 14 points in his just-completed junior season, and has 30 points in three years at UAH.

Dunn commits: The Chargers picked up a commitment on Wednesday from Madison Dunn, a forward from the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Dunn, who is from Calgary, had eight goals and 35 assists for 43 points in 60 games with the Bandits during the regular season. He had two goals and five assists in six playoff games so far as Brooks goes into the second round of the AJHL playoffs.

More information on incoming recruits is coming soon. For more information, visit the Commitments page.

Banquet in two weeks: Remember that the UAH hockey post-season banquet is Wednesday, April 1, at 7 p.m. at Spragins Hall.

The cost is $25 per person, and you have the opportunity to sponsor a player’s dinner at the banquet for $25.

There will be several silent auction items at the event as well as the opportunity to sit with your favorite player at dinner. Payments will be accepted at the door upon arrival.

The hockey office asks that you RSVP for the event.  If you have any other questions you can email Nick Laurila.

Around the WCHA: The WCHA Final Five is this weekend at the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The semifinals take place Friday, with Bowling Green facing Michigan Tech at 4:07 p.m. MacNaughton Cup champion Minnesota State faces Ferris State at 7:37 p.m. The Broadmoor Cup championship game is Saturday night at 6:07 p.m.

The champion gets an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota State and Michigan Tech, ranked second and fifth respectively in the Pairwise Rankings, are locks to be at-large bids, with No. 12 Bowling Green in decent shape with at least a semifinal victory. If Ferris State wins the Broadmoor Cup, it is conceivable that the league could get four teams in college hockey’s big dance.

The WCHA Final Five can be seen on Fox College Sports Central. Find FCS on your local cable or satellite provider.

 

Mar 162015
 

Now that the 2014-15 season is over, let’s take a look about how the Chargers improved from the previous season from a statistical perspective. There are many ways the Chargers improved that reflected in their record, which is where we start.

Carmine Guerriero

Carmine Guerriero had one of the best goaltending seasons in UAH history. (Photo by Todd Pavlack/BGSUHockey.com)

Record: 2013-14: 2-35-1 (.066); 2014-15: 8-26-4 (.263); Change: +.197

This is the most visible, most obvious improvement. Not only did UAH have six more wins, which is the sixth-biggest jump in Division I, but three more ties — or nine more games where we had points.

Scoring margin: 2013-14: -3.29; 2014-15: -1.55; Change: +1.74

The Chargers had 26 losses, which is still not good. But this shows we’re closing the gap even if we didn’t come through victorious. UAH lost games by five or more goals 12 times in 2013-14. This season: Three. UAH reduced the number of games lost by three or more from 26 to 13.

That’s why general excitement was up this season. The number of games we still had a shot went up from 32 percent to 68 percent.

Offense: 2013-14: 1.08 goals per game; 2014-15: 1.63; Change: +0.55

Still nothing to write home about, but at least we’re no longer dead last in the nation, or even in the WCHA (sorry, Lake Superior State). Three goals has been the magic number this season — this year the Chargers scored three-plus 10 times (as opposed to only three times in 2013-14), and were 6-2-2 in those games.

The freshmen really contributed to the boost, which is why we’re optimistic that the offense will continue to improve its potency with experience. Leading the team was Max McHugh, whose 12 goals are the most by a Charger since Matt Sweazey in 2008-09, and whose 23 points are the most since four Chargers had that many or more in 2006-07. Brandon Parker had 14 assists, most since Andrew Coburn had 15 in 2009-10. UAH freshmen, including Brennan Saulnier, Josh Kestner, Richard Buri, and Cody Champagne, accounted for 61 of 167 points (37 percent) this season.

Meanwhile, our juniors had their best seasons to build on as they become seniors. Chad Brears had 15 points to more than double of career total coming in to 2014-15. Jack Prince’s 14 points is also a career high. Defenseman Frank Misuraca had six MisuRockets™ find the net. And Alex Carpenter, who had no playing time in two seasons at Western Michigan, put together a nice 3-5-8 season in 32 games played.

Coach Mike Corbett has said the goal for UAH is to be the up-and-down team like a Michigan Tech. Building depth behind this corps can do just that.

Defense: 2013-14: 4.37 goals allowed per game; 2014-15: 3.18; Change: +1.19

Again, UAH is still near the bottom of the WCHA in this category (besting only Lake Superior), but as we wait patiently for the offense to catch up, the improved defense really helped the Chargers be competitive.

The rise of sophomore goaltender Carmine Guerriero was a big part of that, of course. His .928 save percentage this season was the fourth best in UAH history and second in the modern Division I era, putting him among the top 20 in the country (currently 14th with others’ conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament to go). His 2.56 goals against average was fifth best in UAH history and third in the Division I era.

But it goes beyond just Guerriero. The Chargers still allowed a lot of shots this season (37.58 shots on goal allowed per game, next to last in Division I), but they also blocked a ton. Brandon Carlson finished the season with 94 blocked shots, currently 2nd in the country. Four Chargers are among the nation’s top 100 defensemen in blocked shots, including Frank Misuraca (69), Brandon Parker (61), and Graeme Strukoff (56).

Power play efficiency: 2013-14: 12-137 (8.8%); 2014-15: 19-124 (15.3%); Change: +6.5%

UAH was dead last in Division I on the power play last season, but found its way to the middle of the pack in the WCHA in 2014-15. The Chargers had the fewer power play opportunities in the WCHA this season, but when they got one, they got aggressive, and it showed. McHugh became even more of a threat, scoring five of his 12 power play goals on the season.

Penalty kill efficiency: 2013-14: 117-166 (70.5%); 2014-15: 164-201 (81.6%); Change: +11.1%

Considering the Chargers were by far the worst on the penalty kill in 2013-14, this was arguably the aspect of UAH’s game that improved the most. The Chargers had the most shorthanded situations in 2014-15 — they were the third-most penalized team in Division I at 15.8 penalty minutes per game — and while the kill percentage is only eighth-best in the WCHA, it feels like night and day.

They had their rocky moments (allowing three power play goals at Air Force negating a 3-0 UAH lead, and six power play goals in a 11-1 drubbing at Michigan Tech during the regular season), but also had impressive streaks: Opponents were 2-for-40 from Nov. 15 (Lake Superior was 0-for-10) to Dec. 14, including a stretch of 17 straight penalties killed, and a string of 19 straight kills from Feb. 13-21.

So the numbers may not be great, but they show the improvement this club made over the season. And there’s so much potential to get better. And that means more wins. Get excited for 2015-16.