Oct 252014

Charger head coach Mike Corbett has consistently said that UAH’s goaltenders are and have been our most valuable players. They certainly kept the Chargers within sniffing distance of the favorites of the WCHA.

One night after Carmine Guerriero made 54 saves to give UAH a chance, it was Matt Larose who did all he could to help UAH stay close with No. 13 Minnesota State. He made 37 saves in the Chargers’ 4-1 loss on Saturday, and the four goals he allowed were simply the result of the Mavericks’ speed and skill advantage. Larose had to deal with 41 Maverick shots on goal while the Chargers could only muster nine.

UAH fell to 0-6-0 overall and 0-4-0 in the WCHA. The Mavericks are now 4-2-0 and 2-0-0 after the two-game sweep.

The Mavericks were firing early again, and Larose was able to make the stops until Minnesota State broke through at 13:52 of the first. Chase Grant in the slot deflected a Jordan Nelson drive from the right wing, and the puck cleared Matt Larose’s pad for a 1-0 Maverick lead.

UAH had only one shot on goal in the first: A drive by Cody Marooney, gloved by MSU goalie Stephon Williams, who played in Friday’s game. Williams made eight saves in the game.

The Chargers finally started to take some shots in the second, and tied the game up as Josh Kestner deflected a Brandon Parker drive at 9:07. It was the Huntsville native’s first collegiate goal. Brennan Saulnier also got a stick on the puck to pick up the primary assist.

However, it wasn’t long until Minnesota State regained the lead. Cody Marooney got a cross-checking penalty just 12 seconds after Kestner’s goal. Bryce Gervais found himself all alone in front of Larose, made Larose commit to his right, and slipped the puck to the left for a 2-1 Maverick lead at 11:01.

Still, it was another close game going into the third. But Minnesota State asserted its dominance again with two goals that Larose couldn’t have done much more to prevent.

At 5:07, C.J. Franklin made a nice left side to right side pass to Teddy Blueger, who drive in on Larose and tucked the puck behind him for a 3-1 Minnesota State lead.

UAH finally got a power play at 10:06 of the third. The Chargers immediately give up a shorthanded breakaway to Gervais, who beat Larose again to make it 4-1 Mavericks.

The Chargers head up to Marquette, Mich., next week to face Northern Michigan in a non-conference series (finishing a contract signed before UAH became a member of the WCHA).

Oct 242014


When you watch UAH play Minnesota State, you can see the gap between the programs. The Mavericks are simply faster and more skillful, worthy of being favorites to win the WCHA this season.

Once again, Carmine Guerriero made that gap not seem so big. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough to get UAH a point.

The sophomore goaltender from Montreal put up another 54 saves at Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday, keeping UAH (0-5-0 overall, 0-3-0 WCHA) in the game as long as he could in a 3-1 loss to 13th-ranked Minnesota State (3-2-0, 1-0-0).

Last February in Mankato, Minnesota State put up 65 shots against the Chargers. Guerriero stopped 61 in the 4-0 loss, setting a UAH modern Division I record for saves in a game. That’s 115 saves in two career starts in Mankato.

The Chargers needed every stop to have a chance at an upset.

From the outset, like that game in February, the Mavericks fired and shot and blasted and whatever synonym you want. They had 18 shots on goal in the first, 19 in the second, and 20 in the third.

Yet after two periods, it was scoreless.

The best chance for the Chargers up to that point came in the second period, where Regan Soquila’s shot from the left circle was stopped by Maverick goalie Stephon Williams, then Matt Salhany was denied by Williams on the rebound.

But UAH could not get the puck possession needed to mount any sustained offensive pressure against the tough Mavericks, as it has been in recent years. The Chargers only had 18 shots on goal in the game to the Mavericks’ 57.

Late in the second, Guerriero made two critical saves to keep the game scoreless. The first came on a 2-on-1: Guerriero made a sliding pad save from right to left on Brad McClure. Then Guerriero gloved a bullet from Jordan Nelson, shooting from the left circle, with 30 seconds left.

In the third period, the Mavericks finally got their rewards.

MSU went up 1-0 on a goal by Jean-Paul Lafontaine, set up by Matt Leitner, only 51 seconds into the period. Then 2:40 later, a power play goal on a rebound to Bryce Gervais made it 2-0 Minnesota State.

The Chargers had a chance with six minutes left with a two-man advantage following roughing and high-sticking penalties to Minnesota State, but the Maverick defense clamped down and kept UAH scoreless at that point.

UAH finally got on the board with 30 seconds left in the contest with the extra attacker. Max McHugh notched his first collegiate goal in front of the Maverick net, assisted by Matt Salhany and Brandon Carlson.

With Guerriero still pulled for the extra attacker, Matt Leitner won the center-ice faceoff, sent it to Zach Palmquist, who fired it from neutral ice into the empty net for the final 3-1 score.

The Chargers are now winless in their last 15 games against the Mavericks — the last win coming in 2002. The last time UAH won in Mankato was in 1999.

Game two of the series is Saturday night at 7:07 p.m.

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.

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

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.