The top story of this game is the attendance. The second story is the actual game. Let’s talk about the game second.
I think that we all may be a little tired about haranguing you about coming to last night’s game. But y’all came. Boy, howdy. If you read what I wrote or what Mark McCarter wrote and decided, “Yeah, I should go and support that,” then thank you. If you came because a friend told you to come, thank them for the invitation. If you were there because you were cajoled to be there, were you not entertained?
What I’d really love to see is a follow-up tonight of about 2,000-2,500 people. That’s not a number that we normally get on Saturday nights during college football season: we’re usually around 1400-1500. But I really get the sense that a lot of people enjoyed the magic last night, and my hope is that they’ll have enjoyed it enough to pay $8 for a GA ticket 10+ times a year.
What follows below is the bones of what I wrote for USCHO. Normally I take that and re-write it a good bit, but since I’m writing this three hours before puck drop on Saturday, I’m working with what I have. However, I’m getting you photos from Nick Franklin to go in the mix, so hopefully that works for you!
Chase Grant didn’t show any rust from having missed most of the 2011-12 for Minnesota State. The junior forward doubled his career power-play goal on Friday night, scoring three goals and assisting on the Mavericks’ fourth as they pulled away from the homestanding Alabama-Huntsville Chargers, winning by a 4-1 margin.
Grant led off scoring during a penalty-filled first for the Chargers, which saw three minor penalties and a major + misconduct to Alex Allan for checking from behind. UAH coach Kurt Kleinendorst said, “The first period was nothing but penalty kill, and that’s just putting yourself in a tough spot.”
The Chargers ended up killing Allan’s penalty, which rolled over into the second period, but the next Charger penalty saw Grant strike again. “Those two guys were really good in the exhibition game against Lethbridge,” Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings said. “With their other winger, Bryce Gervais, they’re really got a lot of chemistry. And if you go back, they played juniors together in Fargo. We’ve decided to put them together at the beginning of the year, and they’ve really had chemistry.”
The Chargers struck back, with sophomore Craig Pierce finding a seam to score a power-play goal at 15:32 to bring it to 2-1. “Doug Reid dumped it in, and he and I just started cycling the puck, waiting for something to open up,” Pierce said. “Reid finally rolled it up and passed it to [Graeme] Strukoff, who shot it in. I was out front looking for a tip, and it went off of my stick and in.”
UAH had a Division I-era record crowd of 5106, which greeted WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod and other league representatives at the game. “I thought that the atmosphere in the building was outstanding,” Hastings said. “To me that showed quite a bit. They scored a goal to make it 2-1 and this place started hopping.” Pierce said, “[The crowd was] unbelievable. We appreciate the support from everybody, and we hope that it keeps coming.”
Grant powered a response to Pierce’s goal with an early power-play marker in the third. Grant then broke up a Charger power-play, poking the puck out into neutral ice, chasing it down, and feeding Leitner for a short-handed goal to take the Mavericks to the final score.
Kleinendorst was disappointed in the finish. “We just weren’t able to go out and finish the job. We had a bad line change on the third goal, and that’s all it took.”
The two teams face off at 7:00 p.m. at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville for the concluding match of the weekend series.
For full size versions of any of the images in this post, click the image. All photos are Copyright 2012 Nicholas C. Franklin. Please contact me with any requests for commercial use.