Oct 122015
Brennan Saulnier

Brennan Saulnier

After a three-goal, five point weekend, UAH sophomore forward Brennan Saulnier was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Saulnier had two goals and two assists to lead the Chargers to a 5-2 victory over Connecticut on Saturday, which secured a series split. His first goal tied the game at 2-2 in the first period, and his second extended UAH’s lead to 4-2. The four points were the most by a Charger in a single game since Jack Prince did the feat at Michigan Tech on Feb. 8, 2014.

Saulnier’s goal on Friday in the first period tied the game at 1-1, but the Chargers would ultimately lose 5-2.

The Halifax, Nova Scotia native led all Chargers with 10 shots on goal for the weekend. He also committed three penalties.

It is Saulnier’s second WCHA weekly award. Last season, he won the WCHA Rookie of the Week award after having two assists against Air Force.

In-state exhibition: UAH hosts the Alabama Frozen Tide club team on Saturday at the Huntsville IcePlex for an exhibition contest. Game time is 6 p.m., with “Skate with the Chargers” following the game.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under and students with ID, and the price includes admission to Skate with the Chargers. UAH students get free skate rental with the purchase of a ticket.

Alabama, coached by former Charger player and assistant coach Mike Quenneville, is playing its first season in ACHA Division I, the highest level in club hockey. Another UAH tie: Senior forward Andre Morard is the son of Gus Morard, who played on UAH’s first club teams from 1979-83.

The Chargers and Tide met in exhibition play to start the 2012-13 season, with UAH winning 12-1 and 10-0.

Guerriero on Richter watch: Carmine Guerriero has been named to the watch list for the 2016 Mike Richter Award, which goes to the best goaltender in NCAA Division I. The award is presented by Let’s Play Hockey and the Herb Brooks Foundation.

Guerriero was a candidate for the award last season as he posted a .928 save percentage — 14th highest in Division I — and a 2.56 goals against average in 29 starts. Against UConn, he stopped 59 of 65 shots, a .908 save percentage, including 22 straight to finish UAH’s win on Saturday.

WCHA roundup: The WCHA went 5-9-3 in non-conference action in the opening week of the season (not including Michigan Tech’s two exhibition victories). Some of the highlights:

  • Bemidji State, like last year, pulled off an early-season stunner by beating No. 2-ranked Minnesota Duluth in Bemidji on Saturday (the first game in Duluth on Friday was postponed due to a power outage).
  • In the matchup of preseason top-ten teams, Omaha won the Spirit of the Maverick trophy by going into Mankato and taking both games from Minnesota State.
  • No. 16 Bowling Green held serve at home and in Columbus to sweep Ohio State.
  • The Alaska teams went 1-3 in the Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage, including the Alaska Nanooks being Arizona State’s first Division I victim.

Friday, Oct. 9
Connecticut 5, UAH 2
#4 North Dakota 5, Lake Superior State 2 (Ice Breaker at Portland, Maine)
#16 Bowling Green 6, Ohio State 3
Western Michigan 3, Ferris State 2
Northern Michigan 2, Wisconsin 2, OT
#10 Omaha 3, #6 Minnesota State 2
Bemidji State at #2 Minnesota Duluth, postponed (power outage)
St. Cloud State 3, Alaska 0 (Kendall Hockey Classic at Anchorage)
Alaska Anchorage 3, Arizona State 2, OT (Kendall Hockey Classic)
#15 Michigan Tech 5, Laurentian 1 (Exhibition)

Saturday, Oct. 10
UAH 5, Connecticut 2
Michigan State 4, Lake Superior State 1 (Ice Breaker at Portland, Maine)
Western Michigan 1, Ferris State 1, OT
16 Bowling Green 2, Ohio State o
Northern Michigan 3, Wisconsin 3, OT
#10 Omaha 2, #6 Minnesota State 0
Bemidji State 3, #2 Minnesota Duluth 2
Arizona State 2, Alaska 1 (Kendall Hockey Classic at Anchorage)
St. Cloud State 6, Alaska Anchorage 2 (Kendall Hockey Classic)
#15 Michigan Tech 5, Laurentian o (Exhibition)

Bowling Green moved up to No. 10 in this week’s USCHO.com poll. Minnesota State fell to No. 14, and Michigan Tech is at No. 16. Bemidji State, Northern Michigan, and Ferris State all received votes.

Oct 112015

HUNTSVILLE — The homestanding UAH Chargers (1-1-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) rebounded from a tough game on Friday to win going away on Saturday, again potting two first-period goals but equaling that total in the final frame for a 5-2 win over the visiting Connecticut Huskies (1-1-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East).  (Box score)

The Chargers were paced by a blistering night from their top line.  Sophomore forward Brennan Saulnier (Halifax, Nova Scotia) scored two goals and assisted on each of his linemates’ markers, while senior forward Chad Brears (Cold Lake, Alberta) also assisted on his linemates’ goals and sophomore forward Max McHugh (Seattle) assisted on Saulnier’s first tally.  The 4-5—9 mark is the highest for one Charger line since February 25, 2006, when Bruce Mulherin (2002-06, Red Deer, Alb.) went 1-4—5, Brett McConnachie (2003-07, Ajax, Ont.) 3-0—3, and Chris Martini (2003-06, Calgary, Alb.) slacked 1-0—1 to make for a startling five goals and four assists on the night.  Saulnier’s effort is the Chargers’ single-best point effort since Jack Prince’s 2-2—4 game against Michigan Tech on February 8, 2014.

UAH scored five goals just once in 2014-15, a 5-2 win over Lake Superior that was the program’s first Division I home win in nearly four years.  The seven-goal weekend output was the highest at home against a Division I opponent since a 4-2 loss and 5-5 tie against Niagara in 2008-09, and the Chargers are 1-1-0 to start the season for the first time since 2010-11.

It was kinda historic.

The Huskies got an early lead when freshman forward Hans Gorowsky (Lino Lakes, Minn.) hauled down sophomore forward Corey Ronan (Franklin, Mass.) on a breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot that Ronan rang in off of the left post.

The Chargers soon responded.  Brears would knot the game at 1-1 just 67 seconds later off of a feed from sophomore defenseman Richard Buri (Nitra, Slovakia).  Husky freshman defenseman Miles Gendron (Shrewsbury, Mass.) would push the visitors back up 2-1 with his first collegiate goal just 1:55 after that.  Then the Chargers returned the favor :25 later with Saulnier’s first marker of the night (Brears, McHugh).  All four goals were scored in 4:27.

After a period of out-shooting the Huskies 15-10, the Chargers returned more to recent form, suffering a deficit of 12-5 in the middle frame.  McHugh would score on the power play, though, pushing UAH to the lead with just 2:36 left in the 2nd right after senior defenseman Kyle Huson‘s (Parker, Colo.) penalty expired to bring the Huskies back to four defenders.

The Chargers poured it on in the third, adding Saulnier’s second marker from an assist by senior defenseman Frank Misuraca (Clinton Township, Mich.) at 6:10.  Gorowsky added an insurance marker on the penalty kill, taking a feed from junior forward Regan Soquila (Maple Ridge, B.C.), who had intercepted a poor outlet pass into neutral ice.  Soquila nearly ended his goalless streak just a shift later, sending a puck just wide of Husky sophomore goaltender Steve Thulin (North Reading, Mass.).

Junior goaltender Carmine Guerriero (Montréal, Qué.) made 29 saves in the win, moving up to 1-1-0 and raising his save percentage to .908 and lowering his GAA to 3.01.  Thulin, seeing his first collegiate action, made 24 saves.

UAH plays an exhibition next weekend against the University of Alabama’s club team before starting the WCHA season at home the next weekend against Alaska-Anchorage.  The exhibition is at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday the 17th, while the varsity games on the 23rd and 24th drop the puck at 7:07 p.m.

Oct 092015

HUNTSVILLE — The homestanding UAH Chargers (0-1-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) started out fast and faded away at the end, as freshman forward Max Letunov (Moscow) scored a natural hat trick to power the visiting Connecticut Huskies (1-0-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East) to a 5-2 win in front of 2,193 at Propst Arena.  (Box Score)

The Chargers stumbled out of the gate, giving up a first-minute goal when sophomore David Drake (Naperville, Ill.) fished a puck out of a wall scrum and found a wide-open Patrick Kirtland right in the middle of the slot.  The senior captain from Rocky Hill, Conn. took one stride to his left and ripped one past UAH junior goaltender Carmine Guerriero (Montréal, Qué., 30sv).

The boys in white (and lots more blue!) would even the score at 7:16 of the first when sophomore forward Brennan Saulnier (Halifax, Nova Scotia) would pick up a breakout pass in the right-wing circle, make a move, and rifle one past Husky junior goaltender Rob Nichols (Dallas).  The marker perked up the crowd and the team, which was noticeably flat to start.

Sophomore forward Max McHugh (Seattle) and senior forward Chad Brears (Cold Lake, Alberta) picked up where they left off in 2014-15.  Brears rifled a puck from the top of the right-wing circle looking for McHugh’s stick, and the Chargers’ scoring leader from last season tipped the puck high past Nichols to bury it and put the Chargers up 2-1 going into the first intermission.

From there, though, the Chargers faded.  UAH coach Mike Corbett summed it up well, saying, “We ran out of gas a little at the end, and that’s disappointing.  The ice was bad, but that affected both teams.  We turned pucks over, and that killed us — and really, it was just us not being hard on pucks and taking it to them.  That led us to chasing the puck a lot, and that definitely hurt us.”

Chase they did, but they couldn’t quite catch up to Letunov, a highly-regarded prospect drafted in the 2nd round by St. Louis in 2014.  Corbett noted the Chargers’ inability to shut the Huskies’ top scoring line down.  “He’s a good player.  That was the line with him and Naas on there.  Naas is their returning leading scorer, and that’s the line that we wanted to put some guys out there against.  I wouldn’t say that they beat us — they were opportunistic and made their chances.”

The Chargers did not manage a shot on goal in the third period.

UAH will get a chance to rotate in talent on Saturday night that watched from the stands on Friday.  Corbett looks forward to making the changes.  “We want to keep our legs.  The good thing about us is that we’ve got numbers.  We’ve got a guy like (Regan) Soquila and someone like Willie (Adam Wilcox) ready to come in and play.”

The Chargers face the Huskies on Saturday night at 7:07 p.m at Propst Arena.  The first 500 fans receive a Charger trading card set.  The game will be available online for pay-per-view at WCHA.tv.

Oct 092015

This isn’t your typical season preview — that will have to wait until I have time to go through 2-3 hours of tape from interviews of Mike Corbett, Gavin Morgan, Brent Fletcher, Chad Brears, Frank Misuraca, Max McHugh, and Carmine Guerriero.  [Sorry, I’m certifying to be an ISS Flight Controller, and, oh, I got married on the 20th.]

But what this little missive will be is a treatise on why I’m bullish on the 2015-16 Chargers.


When you’re starting from scratch, your most important leaders are your coaches.  Corbett had a great assistant in this regard in Morgan, who’s been with UAH since Chris Luongo’s first season.  But Corbett also has his own way of doing things, and so he and Morgee (and Matty Thomas) were really the leaders of that first team and somewhat the second.

Now the Chargers have leaders of their own wearing sweaters and pants and skates and buckets.  Junior forward Brent Fletcher (New Westminster, British Columbia) is the captain this year.  I remember talking to Corbs after an embarrassing 6-1 loss to Bemidji to start the 13-14 campaign, looking for positives.  He responded, “Well, there’s Fletcher.  That guy can … play for me anytime, anywhere, no matter the score.”  I filed that away.

Fletch isn’t a finesse guy.  He was 1/3 of last season’s Bulldog Line (miss you, Reider and Pierce), a unit that harassed opposing top lines and kept them mostly in check.  He’s also a guy in the tradition of latter-day UAH captains: from Scott Kalinchuk forward to Ryan Burkholder, Curtis deBruyn, and Doug Reid, our leadership has started with two-year guys who focused on the defensive side of things.  In this way, Fletcher will set the tone.

Senior defenseman Frank Misuraca (Clinton Township, Mich.) does all the little things, knows who he is as a player, and generally stays within himself.  Yeah, he gets timely goals, but that’s not his only thing.  And senior forward Chad Brears (Cold Lake, Alb.) started to come into his own offensively, going 3-12—15 while mostly playing on McHugh’s right wing and at the point on the power play.  While Brears did halve his goal mark from the previous year, his junior career may prove illustrative given his final year with Merritt in the BCHL.


The Chargers only dressed 13 forwards in 14-15.  Both senior defenseman Anderson White (Caledon, Ont.) and junior defenseman Brandon Carlson (Huntington Beach, Calif.) got time at left wing last year, using good speed and big bodies to spice things up when needed.  Depth at forward was a problem due to eligibility issues and injury, and using the big defensemen up front stretched the depth on the back line, too.

Depth should not be a problem in 15-16.  The Chargers field 16 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goaltenders this year.  Players won’t be able to cheat on a game, knowing that they’ll be in the lineup the next night regardless.  We won’t take our third goaltender on a few road trips because we’re so thin that it just makes sense to have the insurance in net and reward a guy who busts his ass in practice.  When it comes down to it, there will be seven guys in the stand at every UAH home game, and when the team hits the road, five guys will be left watching the games on the Internet and doing their homework in peace and quiet.

Honestly, given the depth issues from last year, it’s a wonder that the team won 300% more games than the previous season.

Carmine Guerriero

Look, there’s not much left to write about CG35.  There’s the Tech game, the Mankato game, and CHN making him their preseason 2nd team All-America.  I interviewed the junior from Montréal, and if anything, his intensity level is up.  He knows who he is.  He knows that people knock him because he’s 5’10” and not 6’4″.  He knows that people may think that his stats are inflated because he’s played on weak offensive teams that play a lot in their end.  I don’t think that he cares too much about any of that, other than to use it as motivation.  He is relentless, he is fearless, and he’s already thinking about the next save.

Improved scoring

Look, there’s still relatively few places to go offensively in 15-16 but up.  UAH was 57th in college hockey in scoring last year, potting a paltry 1.63 G/GM.  They gave up 3.18 G/GM, but those stats are a bit distorted by allowing 16 of their 121 goals in a weekend that we’d all like to forget (but that Corbs will make sure that we remember) at Tech.  If the boys can get the puck out of their own end, not only will they have more chances to score, but they’ll make Guerriero’s job easier, and fewer SOG at him should lead to fewer goals.  Take that weekend out for UAH, and they gave up 2.94 G/GM, which is still in the bottom third in college hockey but is something to build upon.

Sophomore forward McHugh (Seattle) was everything that we’d hoped that he would be as a freshman, becoming the team’s first 20-point scorer since Matt Baxter (Courtice, Ont.) in 2009-10 and first 10+ goal scorer since Matt Sweazey (Toronto) in 2008-09.  He’ll anchor a top line with (presumably) Brears and whoever has a good scoring touch combined with some speed on the left wing.  That might be freshman forward Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, Alb.), who scorched the AJHL for the last two seasons with point-a-game totals and a combined 70 goals, or it could be freshman forward Tyler Poulsen (Arvada, Colo.), who sat out last season but was 29-32—61 in 56 GP with Topeka in the NAHL in 13-14.

The second line may be a bit of a work in progress.  Will sophomore forward Brennan Saulnier (Halifax, Nova Scotia) corral his talent and spend more time using his mitts than his hits?  Can senior forward Jack Prince (London) overcome slow feet to stay on a second line and use his heavy shot to create chances?  Will sophomore forward Josh Kestner (Huntsville) take all the lessons learned about playing in D-I — a huge jump up from the GOJHL in Junior B — and find his scoring touch?  Will any of the other freshmen wrest away ice time?

I feel like a third line is a pretty easy pick, with Fletcher being joined by freshman Adam Wilcox (Alpharetta, Ga.) as the required Atlanta-area checking forward.  That could be rounded out by junior Cody Marooney (Eden Prairie, Minn.) or another freshman, perhaps big-bodied Hunter Anderson (Savage, Minn.).  I’ve got some ideas as to what to name this third line.  We’ll see.

If UAH can get two or three 10-goal scorers, they’ll be back to 2006-07 levels, and Guerriero is better than the goaltending array from that season.

I picked UAH fourth in the preseason media poll, and that wasn’t me being flippant.

Go Chargers.

Oct 082015
Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 – 7:07 p.m.
First 500 fans get free UAH Hockey T-shirts
Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 – 7:07 p.m.
First 500 fans get free UAH Hockey trading cards
Kids 12-under get free gen. admission to both games

The Chargers begin the next step as they host Connecticut on Friday and Saturday to start the 2015-16 season.

The first face-off is at 7:07 p.m. both nights. It is UAH’s 31st varsity season, 37th overall, and third in the WCHA.

On Friday, the first 500 fans receive a free UAH hockey t-shirt courtesy of Bryant Bank, Damson Auto, Sodexo and Anglin, Reichmann, Snellgrove & Armstrong P.C.  On Saturday, the first 500 fans receive the season’s first set of UAH hockey trading cards, sponsored by Wells Fargo. All season, kids 12 and under get free general admission courtesy of Huntsville International Airport.

All-time series: UAH leads 8-2-0, including a 6-2-0 record in Huntsville. The Chargers and Huskies last met in 2010 at the RPI Holiday Classic, with UAH taking a 6-2 victory. The last meetings at the Von Braun Center came in 2003, with UConn winning the first game 4-1 and UAH winning the second 6-0.

Max McHugh

Max McHugh

Charger recap: UAH finished last season with an 8-26-4 record overall and a 7-20-1 record in the WCHA. The Chargers lost to Michigan Tech in the first round of the WCHA playoffs in Houghton.

UAH looks to continue steady improvement by raising its offensive output. The Chargers averaged 1.63 goals per game last season, which was ninth in the WCHA.

Max McHugh led UAH with 12 goals and 23 points last season in his WCHA All-Rookie freshman campaign. Brandon Parker was tops on the team in assists as a freshman defenseman with 14. Now-seniors Chad Brears (3-12-15) and Jack Prince (5-9-14) round out the Chargers’ top returning scorers.

The backbone of the Chargers has been junior goaltender Carmine Guerriero, who posted one of the best seasons in UAH history. Guerriero posted a 2.56 goals against average ana .928 save percentage as he started 29 of UAH’s 38 games last year.

About the Huskies: Last season, UConn went 10-19-7 overall and 7-11-4 in Hockey East. The Huskies were expected to finish last in their new league after transferring from Atlantic Hockey, but UConn finished ninth. The Huskies lost to New Hampshire in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. Connecticut was picked to finish ninth again in the Hockey East coaches’ preseason poll.

The Huskies’ top returning scorer is senior Shaun Pauly, who had five goals and 15 assists for 20 points last season. Pauly is one of the few upperclassmen on the roster, as UConn has 18 sophomores and seven freshmen. One of those sophomores is Spencer Naas, who tallied 13 goals, including five game-winners, in 2014-15.

Between the pipes is junior Rob Nichols, who started 35 games last season with a 2.73 goals against average and .918 save percentage.

Connecticut has played an exhibition game last week, defeating Queens University 3-1.

UAH in season openers: The Chargers haven’t won a season-opening game since 2009, when UAH stunned No. 5 Notre Dame 3-2 in South Bend (also on Oct. 9). UAH is 11-17-2 all-time in openers, but 4-11-1 in the modern Division I era. UAH hasn’t won a home opener since 2008, but is 15-13-2 all-time starting at the VBC (6-9-1 in the modern Division I era).

Around the WCHA: All 10 teams are in action this weekend, with nine starting their regular season and Michigan Tech playing an exhibition.

All times Central. Games featuring WCHA teams at home can be seen on WCHA.tv.

Friday, Oct. 9
Connecticut at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State vs. #4 North Dakota, 3:30 p.m. (Ice Breaker at Portland, Maine)
#16 Bowling Green at Ohio State, 6 p.m.
Ferris State at Western Michigan, 6 p.m.
Northern Michigan at Wisconsin, 7 p.m.
#10 Omaha at #6 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at #2 Minnesota Duluth, 7:07 p.m.
St. Cloud State vs. Alaska, 8:07 p.m. (Kendall Hockey Classic at Anchorage)
Arizona State at Alaska Anchorage, 11:07 p.m. (Kendall Hockey Classic)
Laurentian at #15 Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m. (Exhibition)

Saturday, Oct. 10
Connecticut at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State vs. Michigan State, 3:30 p.m. (Ice Breaker at Portland, Maine)
Western Michigan at Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.
Ohio State at #16 Bowling Green, 6:37 p.m.
Northern Michigan at Wisconsin, 7 p.m.
#10 Omaha at #6 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
#2 Minnesota Duluth at Bemidji State, 7:07 p.m.
Arizona State vs. Alaska, 7:07 p.m. (Kendall Hockey Classic at Anchorage)
St. Cloud State at Alaska Anchorage, 10:07 p.m. (Kendall Hockey Classic)
Laurentian at #15 Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m. (Exhibition)