Anyone who’s ever studied calculus — which is most UAH alumni — knows the concept of the inflection point. It’s the point on a curve where the sign changes. Tonight’s game against Duluth probably wasn’t an inflection point, but winter 2013 has been.
Anyone who’s looked at the records of this university’s varsity hockey program over the last decade has seen a trend: After a peak in mid-decade, it’s been a steady downward trend ever since, two NCAA postseason trips notwithstanding. We all know the story by now: league disbands, league denies, independent life, Portera ends it, Altenkirch saves it, league accepts. It’s easy to see that this should be an inflection point: When we’ve played against a stable conference, we’ve been a good Division I hockey program. There’s no reason to believe that this shouldn’t be one again.
I think that these last four games are a part of that. Consider what they are: four final games for the last members of the second tournament team; a chance to play Penn State and measure ourselves against a team that has a one-year lead on building for the future; and a chance to finish strong against Duluth, an opponent of the quality that we’ll likely see in the WCHA next season (although UMD will be in the NCHC).
What did we see? A tough 4-0 loss in State College powered by a David Glen hat trick followed by a tight 4-3 loss the next night to lose the one and only #IndependentLeagueMegabowl. Last night we had a 4-2 loss to the Dogs, and tonight it was 4-0. All of these were well-fought efforts, and the important thing here is that the boys finished strong and didn’t just play out the string. It would’ve been easy to let up knowing that the clean slate was coming, but they didn’t. The values they showed, the commitment to the program no matter the pain: maintaining that is the steel that makes that inflection point happen.
Tonight’s in-game inflection point was a major penalty and game misconduct to Graeme Strukoff in the 2nd period. Duluth would end up scoring twice, taking what was a tight 1-0 game to a wide lead. Losing the sophomore defenseman also put the Chargers down to five blueliners, and the Bulldogs pressed the advantage with speedy breakouts and tight forechecking. The boys kept battling and showed flashes, but the puck was never consistently in the UMD end after the major power play.
Senior John Griggs picks up 42 saves in his final UAH start. The senior is joined by Justin Cseter, Curtis deBruyn, and Sebastian Geoffrion in a class that has worked hard to maintain the traditions of the program through the stormy waters of being an independent program. Gentlemen, we are in your debt.