Apr 082014
 

One of the questions that we field frequently is, “Where can I buy a jersey?”  The answer is now: “The Athletics department is selling them directly!”  In fact, when you reach out to buy one, you will be contacting our AD, Dr. E. J. Brophy, directly.

Matt Larose in the 2013-14 grey jersey Stephen McKenna in the 2013-14 grey jersey.

These replica jerseys will come without numbers and nameplates, and they’re available for sizes up through adult XXL.  The price will be $79 through April 30th; the price moves to $99 starting May 1st.

If you want to buy a jersey, please call 256-UAH-PUCK (256-824-7825) or email william.brophy@uah.edu.

These jerseys are sharp.  The one detail that you can’t easily see in these shots is that there’s a blue block outline of Alabama with a white star at the location of Huntsville.  You’ve seen this mark around the program over the course of the season, and it’s great to see it in the jerseys.

Mar 212014
 

banquet_promo

From Nick Laurila, UAH Directory of Hockey Operations:

UAH Hockey would like to invite you to our year end banquet celebrating our first year in the WCHA! We will have the banquet on April 3rd at Spragins Hall at 7pm. Cost is $25 per person and you will have the opportunity to host a player at the banquet for $25. There will be several silent auction items at the event. We would ask that you RSVP by clicking here or if you have any other questions you can email Nick Laurila at nick.laurila@uah.edu.

We look forward to seeing you!

The event is a lot of fun and a great way to end the season and send off our seniors. It’s your chance to meet players, coaches, and staff, or support the program by bidding on great items. We hope you’ll attend!

Mar 172014
 

Despite the record, this 2013-14 season was good in terms of exposure. Promotions, sponsorships, and marketing have helped us get the highest average attendance in five seasons. But this first season in the WCHA was also a learning experience on and off the ice.

However, I have some suggestions.

I’m not going to talk about things I’d like to see in terms of players and coaching — I’m certainly not qualified beyond the obvious. We need to score more goals. ANALYSIS!

Instead, I want to focus on what I’d like to see in the coming years, things that will make UAH hockey look better. And looking better can help us become better. Consider this friendly advice from a longtime fan, supporter, and alum.

Home jerseys with more blue

Craig Pierce

To paraphrase a 1980s Wendy’s commercial, “Where’s the blue?!” (Photo by Jazzmine Jordan)

I recently had lunch with a close friend of mine, and the topic turned to UAH hockey. She’s not what you’d call a sports fanatic, but she was at a game in January when they were handing out blue-and-white pom-poms. During the game, she found it very odd that she was waving a blue pom-pom when it seemed the only blue was being worn by the other team (Lake Superior State).

I don’t want to be too down on whoever designed the home jerseys this season, because I’m sure they are proud of their creation. However, the first line of our fight song is “We are the Chargers who wear blue and white,” but you wouldn’t know by looking at them. The problem: Too much black. I don’t mind a little black for the accent (over our history we’ve had silver, light blue, and red as accent colors), but the primary color of The University of Alabama in Huntsville is royal blue, and that color was marginalized in our own building.

These jerseys have pride in their blue and white. (Photo by Gemini Athletic Wear)

These jerseys have pride in their blue and white. (Photo by Gemini Athletic Wear)

In contrast, our road jerseys were beautiful. They are a bright royal blue, both bold and traditional. It seemed every where the Chargers went, the opposing team’s beat writers or announcers heaped praise on the road blues. When The Hockey News showcased UAH in January, the photo was of the road blue, not the home white. Uni Watch mentioned the road jersey when I submitted it for their hockey news ticker, but I did not see a repeat for the home. Maybe they were as underwhelmed as I was.

So why not tweak the home jerseys to match better with what the boys wear on the road? Here’s what I suggest:

uah_home_jersey_design_MNThese aren’t as different from this year’s home jerseys as you might think. There are only three changes:

1. The “UAH” is block to match the “Alabama Huntsville” font on the road jerseys. (It could also say “Alabama Huntsville” or “Chargers.” I kind of like “UAH” at home and “Alabama Huntsville” on the road, mostly because folks in Huntsville say “UAH,” while people outside of Huntsville call us “Alabama Huntsville.”)

2. The horse logo is replaced with the jersey number, just like the road jerseys.

3. Except for the shoulder horseshoe, the blue and the black are inverted, so that blue is the main color and black is the accent.

I think these would look so much better. Heck, even if only No. 3 happened to the current design, I think it would be an improvement.

Geof thinks using the official school logo on the front would be a cool idea:

uah_home_jersey_design_newlogo_MNI think I prefer the block lettering, but I am not opposed to this (it is slick). Either way, as the final line of our fight song says, let’s “have pride in your BLUE and white!”

More banners from the rafters, er, wall

I study UAH hockey history. For uahhockey.com I’ve done look-backs on the 1983 and 1998 national championships, and retrospectives on our histories with Bemidji State and the Alaska teams. I researched and expanded the record book when I worked in the sports information office back in the ’90s and on the side have been helping the sports information department expand the record book even more (it’s like 1995 all over again).

Quite simply, our history is under-represented at the VBC.

UAH's current banners at Propst Arena.

UAH’s current banners at Propst Arena.

Currently, the UAH corner of Propst Arena has three banners: The 1996 and 1998 NCAA Division II championships, and 25-year head coach Doug Ross. But we tend to say UAH five national championships when you count the three club championships of the 1980s. Those were important, because without them we don’t have the three banners we have now.

Then there are the accomplishments we’ve had since 1998, during our modern Division I era. We’ve won two College Hockey America regular season titles (2001 and 2003), plus two CHA tournament titles (2007 and 2010) and the NCAA tournament berths that came with them. They have banners at Spragins Hall, but not at the VBC.

So let’s fix this, and honor the teams that have done great things for UAH hockey and remind everyone what this program is capable of. (And show recruits, too!)

I propose we spruce up the UAH corner of the arena:

uah_banners_mock

A mockup of a proposed UAH wall of hockey honors. More championships means more banners. Those section markers are in the way — why are they so high? (Michael Napier)

On the left, there’s a WCHA banner with all the team logos. It seems every team in the league has something like this except us. It doesn’t have to be one big banner like I have in the photo, but it would be nice to have something. There was a time while we were in the CHA where there were placards with each team’s logo underneath one of the scoreboards — maybe that would be easier.

As for the Charger banners, this mockup goes for smaller banners than the ones we currently have so we can fit more. (Each Propst Arena tenant has its own corner to hang things, so we can’t decorate the whole place.) We have one for each national championship, conference regular season championship, and tournament championship (plus the Doug Ross banner).

If cost is an issue, we could combine the 2001 and 2003 banners, as well as the 2007 and 2010 banners. They don’t have to be pointed at the bottom, and they don’t need colored borders — these were just to make the mockups as cool as possible. Whatever works to expand our presence in the arena. We could auction off the original banners. And I’m willing to chip in on this in addition to my regular Blue Line Club dues. (I’m not kidding.)

I hope the powers that be can read this and take my advice under consideration. Even if my suggestions are completely ignored, I can’t wait for October. I’m looking forward to watching this program rise.

But seriously, MORE BLUE, LESS BLACK.

Michael Napier ’97

Mar 142014
 

As you might expect, this kicked off a torrent of tweets, some from me.  You really should go on Twitter and read the whole conversation.

Let’s consider a few things.

UAH had a historically bad season.  We all know that.  But four games against UAH was not a guarantee of eight points.  Two teams, Mankato and Northern, got the full eight points.  UAH picked a point off of Anchorage and two off of Bowling Green and Bemidji.  [Hold on, I'm laughing at the Bemidji thing.  Still laughing.  Moving on.  Ahem.]  So 60% of the time, you didn’t get the full eight points.  Now, there is the fact that UAH didn’t have a season split with anyone, and that you’re functionally substituting an average WCHA weekend (split) in that 60% of the time.  But the fact still remains that eight points was not automatic.  Points off of Anchorage and Bemidji kept them from cruising easily into the postseason.

Just as you can point to UAH as a likely win, you can point to games in Mankato and Ferris as a likely loss.  Bowling Green took a point off of Ferris in Big Rapids, but Anchorage could not.  Michigan Tech took a point off of the Mavericks in Mankato, but Ferris State could not.  Remember how everyone was shocked at that sweep?  Ferris was flying at that point and looked like they’d run away with the MacNaughton Cup (instead of getting it on the final night because there was the Mexican Pulled Goaltender Standoff in the Verizon Wireless Center).  In all four of these cases, these teams are in the top half of the league.  Clearly you can’t say that not getting the return date hurt them, even though they got dinged on the road.

There’s also this nugget from USCHO’s Matt Wellens:

And it gets worse for the Wildcats: the other teams they played four times were #1 Ferris, #2 Mankato, #3 Alaska, and #5 Michigan Tech.  Comparably, Lake State played #1 Ferris, #4 BG, #5 Tech, #6 Anchorage, and #8 Bemidji four times versus #2 Mankato, #3 Alaska, #7 Northern, and #10 UAH just twice.  The Bulldogs swept the Lakers for the season.  Just as comfortably as you could argue that playing UAH twice — and again, 60% of the time, you’re not getting eight points — you can argue that playing Ferris four times was to your detriment.  (You can’t just willy-nilly swap UAH in for Ferris in that last weekend: swapping UAH in means that the Chargers have to play one of their four-times teams in for Lake, and that whole process echoes throughout the conference, likely resulting in all sorts of standings changes.)

When it comes down to the two UP schools struggling to stay in the playoffs, Northern got the job done — with a harder schedule — and Lake State did not.  And then when it comes down to the fight for 8th place, Bemidji didn’t get eight points off of UAH, and the tiebreaker was head-to-head record, which the Beavers won decisively, 3-1-0.

Are we going to see seasons like this again in the future?  We probably won’t from UAH or anyone else being that historically bad, but we could see another season of a team being impossible to beat at home that you can’t take points off of in your own building.  Will that make the standings unbalanced?  Perhaps.  You could get so lucky as to have #2 and #3 in your building, #4-8 for home-and-homes, and #9 and #10 in their barn, where presumably they can be beaten (especially by you, the league’s best team!).  That’s a combination that’s at least as rare as having #10 be this historically bad.  Had Lake State had that sort of schedule, they’d have a case.  That’s not what happened — not even close.

Look, until the NCAA raises the games cap to 42-44 (before Alaska exemptions), 10-team conferences are going to play unbalanced conference schedules.  Were Mankato, Alaska, BG, Lake Superior, and UAH salivating at playing Anchorage four times this year?  They were ranked #9 by both the coaches and media coming into the season, and yet they were in on home ice until this time a week ago.  Moreover, were Mankato and BG really salivating at the chance to play those teams a combined eight times each?  Probably so, but Anchorage proved to be way tougher than anyone expected.

Chris Dilks seems to think that there will be some kind of change in the WCHA.  I can’t see where that change would come from, and frankly, I don’t know that it should be changed.  There won’t be a #10 outlier again like this season.  There probably won’t be any season with one team that wins 24+ games, either.  Without those kinds of statistical outliers, an unbalanced schedule has even less discernible effect than it had this season, and even then, it really didn’t matter.