UAH looked overwhelmed on Friday. On Saturday, the Chargers got the hang of it.
It’s still a 3-2 loss to Northeastern, but much progress was made compared to the 9-1 debacle from Friday. The Chargers (0-2) were better prepared at the start, and played with more consistent energy.
And Carmine Guerriero showed why he was such a big get for this club.
Guerriero made 34 saves in his first collegiate start, making several critical saves on Kevin Roy and company to keep UAH in it all contest long.
One similarity to Friday night’s game, however, was that a Charger was sent off early in his collegiate debut. Brent Fletcher received a hitting from behind major penalty and a game misconduct at the 2:23 mark, duplicating Brandon Clowes’ action from the first game.
Northeastern (2-0) capitalized in just eight seconds of the major power play to take the first lead. Braden Pimm deflected Mike Szmatula’s shot past Guerriero.
Unlike Friday night, UAH would not let the game get away. The Chargers would kill the rest of the penalty — with a little help from Colton Saucerman’s hook of Stephen McKenna — to keep the score at 1-0. That was the score at the end of the first.
The Chargers increased their offensive pressure in the second period, and Guerriero continued to make big saves to keep UAH in it.
Two crucial penalties — cross-checking by Anderson White in front of the UAH net, and another cross-checking on Joakim Broberg after the whistle, led two a two-man advantage for the Huskies. NU got its second power-play goal of the night, as Cody Ferriero’s drive from just inside the blue line ricocheted off the post and in at the 16:02 mark.
Still, UAH was in the game heading to the third period down 2-0. And eventually, the Chargers’ pressure would lead to a power play goal of their own. At 4:57, Chad Brears one-timed a Regan Soquila pass from behind the net past Northeastern goalie Derick Roy to cut the lead to 2-1. Clowes also got an assist.
Colton Saucerman padded the NU lead with a goal with 6:52 to go. But Northeastern piled up the penalties, giving UAH chances late. A Dax Lauwers holding call with 2:03 left, followed by a Saucerman hooking penalty with 57 seconds left, gave the Chargers a two-man advantage, plus an extra attacker with Guerriero pulled.
UAH blasted away, but Derick Roy was up to the task until a Steve Koshey bullet cut NU’s lead to 3-2. But it was too little, too late with only 4.2 seconds to go.
The Chargers’ next action is the big WCHA-opening series at home with rival Bemidji State on Oct. 25-26. — Michael Napier
Commentary: No one likes a loss, but that was a solid game by the Chargers and a day-and-night difference from last night. The boys were forward on their skates all night long and willing to trust themselves and their teammates from end-to-end. There were a few too many penalties, but NU coach Jim Madigan would probably get mad if I said that very loudly in his vicinity.
Giving up two power play goals isn’t something you like, but killing seven more penalties isn’t bad. Carmine didn’t see that first puck, which jostled about on its way to the net. He didn’t have much chance on Ferriero’s rocket — the boys had been doing a great job of strangling the point shot, but it’s pretty hard to do that when you’re down to one forward. But allowing just one goal on Fletcher’s major had to give the boys some jump, and they showed that with a very tight 20 minutes starting halfway through the first period.
Our power play goals were fun ones: Regan feeding Chad for a great wrister on the glove side just outside the slot showed off the familiarity they have from their days at Merrit in the BC league. Steve’s laser blocker high was the clear point shot that the boys were looking for all through the final power play. But not holding the puck in the offensive zone kept the boys from what would have been a thrilling comeback.
Now the boys get a week off before we’ll see them at the VBC. Make sure to come on out! — Geof Morris