Oct 232014
 

The Chargers look to regroup after a rough home opening series. It will not be easy visiting a tough Minnesota State program that the Chargers have had little success against in recent years.

CATCHING THE GAMES
Times: Fri. 7:07 p.m. | Sat. 7:07 p.m.
Online video: WCHA.tv (subscription)
Online audio: KTOE
Live stats: msumavericks.com
Twitter: @weloveuahhockey, @uahhockey, @MavHockey, @puckato (Shane Frederick)
More previews: UAHChargers.com
MSUMavericks.com

Season series: The Chargers and Mavericks have been playing each other since 1988. Minnesota State holds a 23-19-5 advantage in the series, including a 13-6-4 record in Mankato. Last season, the Mavericks won all four meetings by a combined score of 16-2, with the Chargers shut out by 4-0 scores in both games in Mankato. The Chargers haven’t beaten the Mavericks since a 2-0 win in Huntsville on January 4, 2002 — a span of 14 games (0-12-2). The last time UAH won in Mankato was Oct. 16, 1999, 4-0.

Chargers recap: UAH (0-4-0 overall, 0-2-0 WCHA) started its home and WCHA seasons last week and was swept by Bowling Green.

On Friday, the Chargers were shut out, 5-0. Carmine Guerriero made 36 saves. UAH gave up two power play goals and a shorthanded goal.

Matt Larose stopped 44 shots in UAH's 4-1 loss to Bowling Green on Saturday. (Photo by Chris Brightwell)

Matt Larose stopped 44 shots in UAH’s 4-1 loss to Bowling Green on Saturday. (Photo by Chris Brightwell)

On Saturday, Frank Misuraca scored the lone goal in the Chargers’ 4-1 loss. Matt Larose made 44 saves in the effort.

Defensemen have scored four of the six goals for UAH this season — two by Misuraca, and two by Brandon Carlson.

About the Mavericks: Minnesota State (2-2-0 overall, 0-0-0 WCHA), ranked 13th in this weeks USCHO.com poll, begins its conference slate after splitting a home-and-home with Minnesota-Duluth last week. The Mavericks got an overtime goal from Zab Knutson to beat the Bulldogs 5-4 in Duluth on Friday. On Saturday in Mankato, after raising its Broadmoor Trophy banner, Minnesota State lost its home opener to Minnesota-Duluth, 6-2.

The Mavericks open league play as the favorite to win the WCHA title by conference coaches and media. They finished second in the WCHA last season to Ferris State, but defeated Ferris in the WCHA Final Five championship game. Minnesota State lost to UMass Lowell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Senior defenseman Zach Palmquist leads the Mavericks in scoring so far this season with four points (two goals, two assists). Seniors Matt Leitner, one of the favorites to be WCHA player of the year, and Jean-Paul LaFontaine, another all-WCHA selection, each have three assists. Freshman Brad McClure leads the team with three goals.

Sophomore Cole Huggins, the WCHA’s goaltending champion last season, has struggled in his first three starts, posting a 4.70 goals against average and a .762 save percentage. Junior Stephon Williams has been solid in two games (one start), with a 2.16 GAA and .917 save percentage.

Around the WCHA: Three conference series are scheduled this week. Defending MacNaughton Cup champion Ferris State opens league play at home against Michigan Tech, and Northern Michigan visits ake Superior State.

Both Alaska schools are now ranked, and both head east for non-conference series. Alaska-Anchorage is at Maine and Alaska is at Western Michigan.

Bemidji State stays in-state for a clash in the Twin Cities with top-ranked Minnesota, while Bowling Green visits Clarkson.

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

Friday, October 24

* UAH at #13 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
* Michigan Tech at #8 Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.
* Northern Michigan at Lake Superior State, 6:37 p.m.
Bowling Green at Clarkson, 6 p.m.
#20 Alaska-Anchorage at Maine, 6 p.m.
#16 Alaska at Western Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at #1 Minnesota, 8 p.m.

Saturday, October 18

* UAH at #13 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
* Michigan Tech at #8 Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.
* Northern Michigan at Lake Superior State, 6:07 p.m.
#20 Alaska-Anchorage at Maine, 6 p.m.
#16 Alaska at Western Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
Bowling Green at Clarkson, 6:30 p.m.
Bemidji State at #1 Minnesota, 7 p.m.

Oct 182014
 

Back to the drawing board, as they say.

UAH lost 4-1 to Bowling Green on Saturday, swept by a combined score of 9-1 in the two-game home opening series with the Falcons.

After a couple of one-goal games at Colorado College, the Chargers (0-4-0 overall, 0-2-0 WCHA) had a much rougher time against a stronger conference opponent. UAH was outshot 47-21 on Saturday, and Bowling Green (3-1-0, 2-0-0) took advantage of eight power plays, scoring twice.

Still, UAH coach Mike Corbett said the Chargers played better on Saturday, at least in 5-on-5 situations. But the Chargers took 15 penalties, which led to eight Falcon power plays, with two converted into goals.

“They got 17 of the 47 shots on the power play and we’ve got to be more disciplined,” Corbett said. “That was our biggest thing this morning is just to be more disciplined in what we’re doing. We put ourselves behind the 8-ball penalty-wise.

“You figure all four of their goals, two on the power play and two turnovers. It’s pretty simple right there. Our turnovers were minimized compared to yesterday, but in big-time D-I hockey, you turn the puck over, the other team is going to score.”

The Chargers kept it close at the start, finally going into a first intermission without trailing. Bowling Green peppered UAH goalie Matt Larose with 15 shots, though, but he was able to stop them all.

UAH’s best scoring chance came with about eight minutes left in the first, as a Matt Salhany breakaway was denied by Falcon goaltender Tomas Sholl.

Bowling Green had a power play goal with 1:34 left in the frame as Ben Murphy fired on a wide open net. However, video replay showed why it was wide open: Dan Salvo’s right leg strayed into the crease and tripped Larose. The goal was overturned, leaving the game scoreless after one.

It didn’t take long, however, for UAH to fall behind again. Brandon Hawkins squeaked the puck between the pipe and Larose on the power play at 2:29 of the second for a 1-0 Bowling Green lead.

At 8:13, Jakob Reichert made it 2-0 on a forehand-backhand deke on Larose. Mitch McLain got the assist.

Then Kevin Dufort scored his fifth goal of the season at 14:51, poking it past Larose after a shot from Pierre-Luc Mercier. The goal came on the power play following a questionable clipping call on Brent Fletcher, who had upended Ben Murphy in front of the penalty boxes.

The Chargers were desperate for a goal to keep it close going into the third, and they got it from Frank Misuraca. His goal from the slot with 1:56 left in the second, on a nice pass from Brent Fletcher, cut Bowling Green’s lead to 3-1. It was Misuraca’s second goal of the season and sixth of his career.

UAH could not muster a rally in the third, partly because of penalties that led to eight power plays for the Falcons. The Chargers had 15 penalties for 41 minutes, while Bowling Green had 11 for 22. Another was Bowling Green sophomore goalie Tomas Sholl, who made the saves when necessary – 20 in all.

The final nail in the coffin came from Dufour, whose second goal of the game came with 6:38 to go.

Larose had a total of 43 saves in the loss.

The Chargers are now winless in their last 19 regular season home games, and their last 30 against Division I opponents.

UAH visits Minnesota State next week, the first of three road series. The Chargers return home on Nov. 14-15 against Lake Superior State. Corbett remains confident in his club.

“I like our team. Our team’s got to get better on the defensive zone and we’ve got to eliminate the turnovers. To me, that’s the biggest thing. If we don’t turn the puck over, I like to think we have more offensive end zone time.

“We just got to continue to get better in every facet of our game. Now got our freshman who got four games under their belt. Richard Buri gets his first game tonight and he was very solid. Is it one thing? No. It’s every aspect of our game. And that’s going to be a recurring theme. Our guys have to understand, even our older guys, they remember how hard it is in this league, how hard it is to be a Division I player, and that’s what we talk about. There aren’t any nights off, there aren’t any shifts off. We’ve seen what happens when we take a shift off.”

Oct 172014
 

Coming home against a good WCHA opponent reminded the Chargers they still have work to do.

UAH couldn’t find the rallying magic — or much offense at all — it found at Colorado College last week, as another early deficit turned into a 5-0 loss to Bowling Green in their home opener Friday. The loss put a damper on the homecoming festivities in front of an announced crowd of 2,420.

The Chargers fell to 0-3-0 on the season and 0-1-0 in the WCHA. The Falcons (2-1-0, 1-0-0) dominated in shots on goal, holding a 41-20 advantage.

The first Bowling Green goal came shorthanded. Nolan Valleau, who already had four assists on the season, centered to Mitchell McClain all alone in the slot in front of Carmine Guerriero. McClain pounded it home for a 1-0 lead at the 6:59 mark.

The second goal came on another nice centering pass, and another defensive zone turnover. Pierre-Luc Mercier from the left side sends it to Kevin Dufour at the doorstep, who beat Guerriero with 23.5 seconds remaining in the first.

For the third straight game, the Chargers found themselves with a 2-0 deficit after one.

However, penalties would prevent the Chargers from making the second-period rally that was done in both games at Colorado College. The crucial one came with 6:55 left, as Brennan Saulnier left the game with a game misconduct to go along with a five-minute checking from behind penalty.

Cody Champagne then went off for a minor boarding penalty 29 seconds later. In the waning seconds of that penalty, Brandon Hawkins shot went off of Guerriero’s glove and in to give Bowling Green a 3-0 lead.

It was one of the few pucks that got by Guerriero that period, as he made 17 saves in the frame, many with his glove and his body.

The Chargers didn’t pose much of a threat in the third period, and Bowling Green tacked on a couple of goals to clinch the game. Matt Pohlkamp made it 4-0 at 1:42, and Ben Murphy made it 5-0 at 6:42.

Guerriero finished with 36 saves. Chris Nell, a freshman, got his first collegiate shutout with 20 saves.

The Chargers have now lost six straight home openers, and their winless streak at home against Division I opponents is now at 29 games (0-26-3). They’ll try to finally break that streak Saturday night against the Falcons at 7:07 p.m.

Oct 172014
 

[Hi, remember me?  I still write for this site.]

Today was the first of the season’s coaches’ luncheons.  Not only did we get a chance to hear from BG’s Chris Bergeron — always a pleasure — but we heard from new WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson, who is visiting the Rocket City for the first time.  After we heard from both men about the weather — de rigueur — it was time to get down to business.  Among the commissioner’s comments were these nuggets:

  • “I’m having a lot of fun in my first year as Commissioner.  … I want to be a very good listener.”  Funny, sir, the Internet has a lot to say about WCHA.tv
  • “The league has a great plan, a great name, and a great history. … We’re looking to build new traditions, and one of those is here tonight with Bowling Green and UAH, both new entrants into the league.”
  • Since we’ve heard his clarion call for two or more teams in the NCAAs, I’ll finish with this one about the league post season.  “Who knows?  [The WCHA Final Five] could be down here someday.”  It sounds to me that the league is thinking about downsizing the tournament after the 2017 visit to the X.

Next up was BG boss Chris Bergeron, who noted that “this is the first team of guys who wait to me and my staff, ‘I want to be a Falcon, Coach.’ ”  This is what every coach wants, to be sure.  Make no mistake: this is Bergeron’s program, and after an 18-win season last year, they look to be on the way up.

In talking about recruiting, Bergeron says that they often have to answer the question, “What does 1984 (the year BG won their national title) have to do with 2014?”  This is a common refrain from all coaches whose programs’ past success is in their rear view mirror.  We know about that ourselves: the D-II days are long set in stone, and Jared Ross, Scott Munroe, and Cam Talbot are not walking through that door.  Lastly, in discussing the scuffle for recruits, Bergeron said, “Well, I wouldn’t want to get into a (physical) fight with Gavin Morgan, that’s for sure.”

 

Lastly, we heard from Coach Corbett, the man who is inspiring confidence all through the Tennessee Valley. The team lost a couple of close games last weekend at CC, 3-2 and 4-3, and of the weekend, Corbs said, “Last weekend was a culmination of everything that we started last spring.”  He mentioned the turnover in the locker room between graduation and the release of a handful of players.  Returning players were pushed through a grinding physical regimen combined with team-building exercises.  When the players returned, “everybody passed the eye test, and we picked up where we left off.  They held each other accountable, and we threw eight freshmen right there with them.”

It isn’t just that new blood that is sparking the team.  “There’s a little swagger and a glint in some guys’ eyes,” Corbett said, “especially with Vandy (Jeff Vanderlugt) and Doug Reid.”  Of the big man, Corbett said, “Jeff Vanderlugt had the best weekend that he’s had since I’ve been here,” a sentiment echoed to me later in the hallway by UAH assistant Matt Thomas.

But that new blood is important.  “The five freshmen saw the ice, and they just need more experience.”  Cody Champagne, Max McHugh, Brandon Parker, Brennan Saulnier, and Josh Kestner generally stayed out of the box (a slashing minor to McHugh on Friday followed by hooking minors to Saulnier and Kestner on Saturday), took some shots (six on Friday, five on Saturday), and were a combined -2 on Friday and -5 on Saturday.

When it comes to goaltending, Corbett is still really thrilled with what he has in Matt Larose and Carmine Guerriero.  “They’re both going to play this weekend because they’re both pretty damn good.”  Corbett mentioned that Rick Ice has been coming in as a volunteer goaltending assistant coach, which has made an impact on their development, “especially because Gavin doesn’t have to speak to Carmine in half-French, half-English on the side.”  Corbett also praised Jordan Uhelski as “more than just a third goalie”, saying that “he’ll make it very hard for us to recruit another goalie for next season, because he’s that good.”

 

Some thoughts:

  • BG is a solid program on the rise.  They lost a lot this offseason, but they will be looking to prove themselves early in the season.  They have to view coming into Huntsville as a chance for a road sweep, since two close games against a team that won just seven games last year doesn’t mean instant respect (unless you’re a USCHO poll voter).  Also, BG is one of the two teams that the Chargers defeated last season, and you know that losing in OT on home ice still smarts for those guys.  Corbett likened this game to “two freight trains heading down the same track,” and I think that’s what you’ll see.
  • Graeme Strukoff is apparently out with a lower body injury.  Get well, Struky.  His injury opens the ice for appearances by Anderson White and Richard Buri.  I would expect Ben Reinhardt to get top-four minutes alongside one of the freshmen, and my guess would be Champagne.  I’m probably wrong.  I wouldn’t be surprised for White to see the ice one night while Buri gets it on the other one.  Hopefully they’re both willing to make their physical presence felt on the ice, as that’s definitely how they’ll continue to get ice.
  • Corbett noted that the team has increases in both speed and puck possession, to which I can only say, “Hallelujah.”  I’m really excited to see McHugh, Saulnier, and Kestner in the flesh.
  • The native-son cheers won’t be for Kestner only, as Bryan Siersma is on the roster to provide needed depth after a couple of committed players were unable to be on this year’s squad.  Welcome home, Bryan.  Hopefully you’ll get some ice time at home soon.
  • Seriously, we need a home win, and it would be amazing if that came off of a Josh Kestner goal.  No pressure, Kesty.  None at all.  (Top shelf, stick side, please.)
  • Lastly, I can’t confirm this, but I have heard that one of Michael’s colorful suggestions for this season has come true.

See everyone at the rink!  I’m not broadcasting this year, so you can find me in my game-worn Cam Talbot black third jersey upstairs by the pep band.  Michael and I will figure out tweeting as the games go by.

CHARGER PRIDE!

Oct 162014
 

The Chargers open their 2014-15 home schedule this weekend against Bowling Green in the season’s first WCHA series.

CATCHING THE GAMES
Times: Fri. 7:07 p.m. | Sat. 7:07 p.m.
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Complete ticket information
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Online video: WCHA.tv (subscription)
Live stats: uahchargers.com
Twitter: @weloveuahhockey, @uahhockey, @BGFalconHockey, @BGSUHockeySite

Season series: This will be the 15th and 16th meetings between the Chargers and the Falcons. Bowling Green leads the all-time series 10-3-1, including a 4-2 mark at the Von Braun Center. The Falcons have won eight of the last nine in the series. Last season, the Falcons took three of four meetings in WCHA play, winning 7-0 and 4-1 in Huntsville. UAH split in Bowling Green, losing the first game 3-0 and winning 4-3 in overtime.

Home openers: The Chargers have lost their last five regular-season home openers, the last victory coming in 2008 with a 4-2 win over Bemidji State. UAH has a 6-8-1 home opener record in its modern Division I era, and 15-12-2 in its varsity history.

Chargers recap: UAH (0-2) rallied from multi-goal deficits in both games at  Colorado College, but still came away with a pair of one-goal losses last week to open the 2014-15 season.

On Friday, Brent Fletcher and Jeff Vanderlugt scored second-period goals in a 3-2 loss. Carmine Guerriero made 37 saves.

On Saturday, Brandon Carlson scored twice and Frank Misuraca added another, again all in the second period, as the Chargers lost 4-3. Matt Larose made 41 saves.

About the Falcons: Bowling Green (1-1) split a home-and-home series with Ohio state rival Miami last weekend to start the regular season. Each team won on its home ice by a 3-2 score.

Sophomore Kevin Dufour has led the scoring charge early for the Falcons with three goals, scoring twice on Friday against Miami and adding another goal on Sunday. Nolan Valleau, a freshman defenseman, assisted on two of those, and has four assists this season. Thomas Sholl stopped 22 of 24 shots to get the win on Friday, and Tommy Burke made 26 saves in the loss on Sunday. Mark Friedman, the highly-touted freshman defenseman, has a goal and five blocked shots.

The Falcons were picked to finish fourth in the WCHA preseason coaches poll and third in the media poll. Last season, BG tied with Alaska for third with 30 points in the WCHA standings.

Around the WCHA: UAH and Bowling Green are playing the only WCHA series this weekend, while most of the league continues non-conference action.

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

Friday, October 17

* Bowling Green at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
#4 Ferris State at St. Lawrence, 6 p.m.
Lake Superior State at Notre Dame, 6:35 p.m.
#18 Wisconsin vs. Northern Michigan at Green Bay, 7:07 p.m.
#12 Minnesota State at #20 Minnesota-Duluth, 7:07 p.m.
Penn State vs. Alaska-Anchorage, 8:07 p.m. (Alaska Goal Rush)
Air Force at #19 Alaska, 11:07 p.m.  (Alaska Goal Rush)

Saturday, October 18

* Bowling Green at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State at Notre Dame, 5:05 p.m.
#4 Ferris State at St. Lawrence, 6 p.m.
#20 Minnesota-Duluth at #12 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
#18 Wisconsin vs. Northern Michigan at Green Bay, 7:07 p.m.
Air Force vs. Alaska-Anchorage, 7:07 p.m. (Alaska Goal Rush)
Penn State at #19 Alaska, 10:07 p.m. (Alaska Goal Rush)