It’s another long and winding road schedule this season for UAH, and it was another rough start for the Chargers.
UAH would find some life on the power play with three goals, but St. Cloud State overmatched the Chargers 8-3 Friday night at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minn.
The Chargers came out strong out of the gate, notching four of the first five shots on goal. But three penalties brought the action into the UAH defensive zone for most of the first period, and two beautiful passes gave the Huskies an early 2-0 lead.
The first goal was scored by — wouldn’t you know it — Huntsville native Nic Dowd. After a Craig Pierce tripping penalty, Drew LeBlanc fed Nic Dowd in the slot, and Dowd slapped it past UAH goaltender John Griggs to open the scoring for the Huskies 7:31 into the game.
Two minutes later, LeBlanc found Brooks Bertsch alone in the right circle, and Bertsch rifled it past Griggs and giving St. Cloud a 2-0 lead.
The Huskies would outshoot the Chargers 16-6 in the first period.
The second period was a mix of fortune and frustration for the Chargers. On a UAH power play four minutes in, the Chargers crash the net and score, but the goal is overturned as Alex Allan is called for pushing the puck in with his hand.
Allen would not be denied two minutes later, redirecting a Graeme Strukoff pass in the slot past St. Cloud goalie Joseph Phillippi. The power play goal cut the Huskies’ lead to 2-1.
St. Cloud answered just 29 seconds later with an Ethan Prow goal.
The Huskies then put on a passing clinic, as four players touched the puck before a wide open Cory Thorson made it 4-1 at 11:11 of the second.
UAH would fight back on the power play. At 12:13, Kyle Lysaght’s blast through the screen just seven seconds into the man advantage made it 4-2 St. Cloud. Curtis deBruyn and Justin Cseter got the assists.
But again, almost immediately, St. Cloud had the answer. A long drive from the point by Ethan Prow 35 seconds later gave the Huskies a 5-2 advantage.
Dowd would make the score sheet again, feeding Joey Holka in front. Holka would bury it past Griggs’ left side with 3:31 to make it 6-2 St. Cloud after two. Despite a more even period, the Huskies outscored the Chargers 4-2.
CJ Groh relieved Griggs to start the third. Griggs made 22 saves, but many of the goals were short-range and the result of beautiful passing by the Huskies. Groh stopped eight of 10 shots.
UAH had chances in the third thanks to a vicious hit on Lysaght by Jarrod Rabey, which resulted in a major power play. Two of the five minutes were killed because of a highly questionable tripping call on Lasse Uusivirta, but once the power play resumed, UAH capitalized. Jamie Kendra’s blast from the point was deflected by Graeme Strukoff upstairs past Phillippi for the Chargers’ third power play goal of the game. Alex Allan was also credited with an assist.
But that was all UAH could muster. Tim Daly and Jonny Brodzinski would add goals for the final 8-3 score.
UAH and St. Cloud State battle again Saturday at 7 p.m.