Mar 132017
 

What to make of this season?

The Chargers increased their win total (both overall and in the WCHA), but barely, and they failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year. UAH led in more games this season but left many points on the table. One step forward, one step back (or vice versa).

Here’s a look inside some of the numbers.

Record:
2014-15: 8-26-4 (.263) overall, 7-20-1 (.268) WCHA
2015-16: 7-21-6 (.294) overall, 5-17-6 (.286) WCHA
2016-17: 9-22-3 (.309) overall, 9-16-3 (.375) WCHA
Change from 2015-16:+.015 overall, +.089 WCHA

A very slight improvement in the overall record, and a bigger improvement in the WCHA record. Easily the best record UAH has had in its four years in the league, but the 0-6 non-conference slate brought the overall record down (a problem across the WCHA). Odd how the worst of the past three seasons (2014-15) was the one time the Chargers qualified for the playoffs.

Scoring margin:
2014-15: -1.55
2015-16: -0.97
2016-17: -1.35
Change from 2015-16: -0.38

When the Chargers won, it wasn’t a blowout, and half the time it rained, it poured. UAH won by three goals four times, and never by four or more. Meanwhile, UAH lost by three or more 13 times (and six by four or more).

Josh Kestner

Josh Kestner has 9 goals and 22 points on the season. (UAH Athletics/Doug Eagan)

Offense:
2014-15: 1.63 goals per game
2015-16: 2.15
2016-17: 2.18
Change from 2015-16: +0.08

Not much change here. The Chargers did get a little boost in scoring in conference games (from 2.18 goals per game to 2.43), but they were still near the bottom of the league.

If anything, there was more distribution of points this season. Nine players had 10 or more points, compared to six in 2015-16.

Huntsville native Josh Kestner rose to the top of UAH’s scoring chart this season with 22 points in his junior season compared to just eight the year prior. He was tied for the lead in goals with nine.

The guy Kestner was tied with is Kurt Gosselin, a defenseman. Three of his goals came in one game, at home against Ferris State on December 3, the first hat trick for a UAH player since Cale Tanaka in 2008. He and fellow junior defenseman Brandon Parker (six goals) showed they could be a threat from the blue line.

Sophomore defenseman Cam Knight had 16 assists, the most by a Charger in 10 years.

Jordan Uhelski moved to the top of UAH’s goalie depth chart. (Photo by UAH Athletics)

Defense:
2014-15: 3.18 goals allowed per game
2015-16: 3.12
2016-17: 3.53 
Change: +0.41

The Chargers regressed on defense. UAH allowed five or more goals 10 times out of 34 games this season, double the number in 2015-16.

Junior goaltender Jordan Uhelski, who had saw no action until this season, took the reigns as the Chargers’ No. 1 as the two seniors couldn’t regain their form. Matt Larose was solid in the opening series as UAH swept at Ferris State, but struggled shortly afterward, opening the door for Uhelski. Carmine Guerriero was ineligible for the first 12 games of the season, but when he returned he couldn’t find the consistency that had made him tough to beat.

UAH reduced the number of shots on goal allowed per game further, from 33.18 last year to 31.17 this year.

The Chargers didn’t block as many shots per game as last year at 12.41 per game. Cam Knight and Brandon Parker both lead the Chargers in blocked shots with 56.

Power play efficiency:
2014-15: 19-124 (15.3%)
2015-16: 15-140 (10.7%)
2016-17: 18-167 (10.8%)
Change: +0.1%

Virtually no change here. UAH was again one of the least inefficient power play units in the country (only Alaska Anchorage was worse in the WCHA). A third of the power play goals came from defensemen Gosselin and Parker (each with three). Max McHugh also had three power play goals.

UAH had four games with multiple power play goals, but the season had long stretches where it just wasn’t clicking. The Chargers did not convert on their final 23 opportunities, and had another stretch from Dec. 30 to Jan. 27 where they went 1-for-31.

Penalty killing efficiency:
2014-15: 164-201 (81.6%)
2015-16: 119-145 (82.1%)
2016-17: 128-163 (78.5%)
Change: -3.6%

Coinciding with the regression in defense was the regression in penalty killing, which fell to the bottom of the WCHA. Unlike the 2015-16 season, where the PK unites put together some impressive streaks, this was consistently an issue: Opponents scored on their power play at least once in 22 of 34 games, with only one three-game stretch where the Chargers shut out the opponents’ power play in consecutive games. UAH allowed three or more power play goals in a game four times.

Mar 092017
 

Kurt Gosselin (Photo by UAH Athletics)

UAH sophomore defenseman Kurt Gosselin was named third-team All-WCHA on Thursday, as the league announced its postseason awards. He becomes the first Charger to earn a spot on the All-WCHA first, second, or third teams.

Gosselin scored nine goals this season, tied for the team lead and tops among all WCHA defensemen. He and teammate Cam Knight were tied for fourth among WCHA defensemen with 18 league points.

Gosselin becomes the first Charger to earn all-WCHA honors since Max McHugh made the all-rookie team in 2015.

In addition, 19 Chargers were named to the WCHA All-Academic Team: Hunter Anderson, Richard Buri, Cody Champagne, Madison Dunn, Brent Fletcher, Hans Gorowsky, Kurt Gosselin, Jetlan Houcher, Josh Kestner, Cam Knight, Matt Larose, Max McHugh, Brandon Parker, Brandon Salerno, Matt Salhany, Regan Soquila, John Teets, Jordan Uhelski and Adam Wilcox.

The WCHA All-Academic Team includes student-athletes who earned a 3.0 grade point average or higher over the last two semesters.

Salhany signs with Reading: Forward Matt Salhany has signed a standard player contract with the ECHL’s Reading Royals, who announced the deal Thursday.

Salhany finished his UAH career with 17 goals and 26 assists for 43 points in 137 games. The Warwick, R.I. native had seven goals and 13 points as he played all 34 games in his recently-completed senior season.

Feb 252017
 

UAH was officially eliminated from WCHA playoff contention when Northern Michigan defeated Michigan Tech 5-3. But topping off the disappointing season was a 2-0 loss at Bowling Green on Saturday in the final game of the regular season.

BOX SCORE

The Chargers finish the season 9-22-3 overall and 9-16-3 in the WCHA. While the nine wins is the most for UAH since 2009-10, UAH will miss the playoffs for the second straight season.

Bowling Green improved to 17-17-2 overall and 14-13-1 in the WCHA. The win clinched the Falcons the fourth seed in the playoffs, giving them home ice in the first round against Ferris State.

The Chargers started off with a road sweep of Ferris State, held fourth place at the holiday break, and won seven conference road games. However, UAH left many points on the table, particularly at home, where the Chargers were 2-10-2.

UAH also had trouble against Bowling Green, which posted back-to-back shutouts behind their star junior goaltender Chris Nell, who made 38 saves Saturday. The Chargers were shut out for the sixth time this season.

Bowling Green scored first with 11:11 left in the first period. UAH goaltender Jordan Uhelski made a couple of quick saves on a Falcon rush, but Tyler Spezia took a rebound, went behind the net and had an open wrap-around goal.

UAH had a whopping five power plays (of varying lengths) in the first period alone, thanks to five minor penalties against BGSU. The Chargers could not do much with them though: BG’s defense clamped down, and two power plays were killed by UAH penalties.

On one power play, a pass was intercepted by Sean Walker in the Falcon zone, and he took it near the length of the ice on a 2-on-1 break. His shot beat Uhelski high just after the UAH power play ended to give Bowling Green a 2-0 lead with 6:35 left in the first.

No scoring in the second period, but more penalties. UAH had two more power plays, one again killed by a penalty of their own, while Bowling Green finally got their first advantages of the night.

The same continued in the third period, making for a slow game lacking any real flow. The teams combined for 20 minor penalties.

UAH’s power play was stymied all series, going 0-for-11 Saturday and 0-for-18 for the series.

Shots were even at 38. Uhelski finished with 36 saves on the night.

Feb 252017
 

It’s going to be a frantic couple of hours tonight as the Chargers get once last chance to make this year’s WCHA playoffs.

UAH plays Bowling Green tonight at the Slater Family Ice Arena at 6 p.m. Central Time for the regular-season finale.

UAH lost 7-0 on Friday in the series opener. Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan also lost, making for no change in 7th through 9th place in the WCHA standings.

Lake Superior has 33 points, Northern Michigan has 31, and UAH has 30. One of these teams will not make the playoffs.

For UAH to get in, they have to get more points against Bowling Green than Northern Michigan gets at home against Michigan Tech tonight. The Chargers will have the tiebreaker advantage over the Wildcats, either by having more conference wins (“B” tiebreaker) or having swept NMU earlier this season (“D” tiebreaker).

In summary, UAH gets a playoff berth if:

  • UAH wins (3 pts) and NMU ties (1-2 pts) or loses (0 pts).
  • UAH ties and wins in 3×3 OT/shootout (2 pts) and NMU loses in 3×3 OT/shootout (1 pt) or regulation (0 pts).
  • UAH ties and loses in 3×3 OT/shootout (1 pt) and NMU loses in regulation (0 pts).

If UAH loses in regulation, or if NMU wins in regulation, it’s over.

The above alone would ensure UAH the 8th seed. There is also a scenario where UAH would get the 7th seed, but UAH, NMU, and Lake Superior must finish in a three-way tie, which is only possible if:

  • UAH wins (in regulation).
  • Lake Superior loses to Ferris State (in regulation).
  • Northern Michigan ties Michigan Tech and wins in 3×3 OT/shootout.

In fact, this is the only way Lake Superior does not get in — they would be the odd team out with the fewest conference wins of the three.

Elsewhere:

  • Michigan Tech secured the 2nd seed with its win over Northern Michigan. Minnesota State will be the 3rd seed after losing to Bemidji State.
  • Bowling Green and Ferris State will meet in the first round in the 4-5 matchup — now it’s a question of where it will be. They are tied for 4th, with BGSU holding the tiebreaker for home ice.
  • Alaska clinched the 6th seed and will go to Minnesota State in the first round.
  • Alaska Anchorage is eliminated and will finish 10th after its loss to Alaska.

Full list of playoff scenarios by the WCHA

Feb 242017
 

The Chargers’ playoff chances took a hit after an ugly 7-0 loss at Bowling Green on Friday night to start the regular season’s final series.

Fortunately for UAH (9-21-3 overall, 9-15-3 WCHA), Northern Michigan lost to Michigan Tech 3-2, keeping UAH one point behind NMU for the eighth and final playoff spot. But it means the Chargers must figure out how to solve the Falcons (16-17-2 overall, 13-13-1 WCHA), who have outscored UAH 19-4 in three games this season, or they are staying home for the playoffs for the second straight year.

BOX SCORE

The game was marred by 85 total penalty minutes on both sides. But Bowling Green was able to slam the Chargers with four power play goals on 11 opportunities. UAH was 0-for-7 with the advantage.

UAH also couldn’t contain Kevin Dufour, who seems to always have the Chargers’ number. Dufour had a hat trick, and he got the Falcons started with two goals in the first period.

At 10:23, right off the faceoff, Dufour broke away and beat UAH goaltender Carmine Guerriero as the Falcons drew first blood.

About five minutes later, Dufour took the puck from the far wall, around in front of the Charger net, and scored on a backhander for a 2-0 BGSU lead.

Bowling Green extended its lead to 3-0 on the power play early in the second period after a high sticking penalty on Cody Champagne. Mitch McLain deflected a Mark Friedman shot past Guerriero at the 4:06 mark.

UAH’s best opportunity to get back into the game was after back-to-back penalties by the Falcons. Lukas Craggs made contact to the head on Hans Gorowksy, earning him a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

After 2:24 of the ensuing major power play, Mark Friedman cross-checked Josh Kestner, giving the Chargers a full two minutes of 5-on-3.

However, the Falcons would survive, as UAH had trouble getting set and Chris Nell making important saves to the delight of a relatively small but vocal crowd at the Slater Family Ice Arena.

The third period started with more penalties on UAH that made it difficult to get any rally going. Further, Adam Smith scored on the power play at the 5:14 to make it 4-0.

Then Dufour completed the hat trick with 13:06 remaining for a 5-0 Falcon lead. That too was on the power play.

The rest of the game was featured more penalties on both sides as several scuffles broke out. Both BGSU’s Tyler Spezia and UAH’s Brennan Saulnier each had 10-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

Reminiscent of the Nov. 19 game in Huntsville, the Falcons added two late garbage goals by Frederic LeTourneau and Alec Rauhauser for the final 7-0 score.

Guerriero made 35 saves, but he was tagged with all seven goals. Nell stopped all 33 shots he faced for the shutout.

The Falcons were tied for fourth place with Ferris State in the WCHA standings coming in, looking for home ice in the first round of the conference playoffs.

The regular season finale is Saturday at 6:07 p.m. Central Time.

Notes: Brent Fletcher played his 138th game at UAH, setting a new program record. … UAH defenseman Kurt Gosselin was back in the lineup after missing three games for concussion-like symptoms.