Hoof Beats: Half a century of hockey

To this day, I still see the bemusement in a person’s face when I tell someone not from Huntsville that UAH has a hockey team.

I don’t even get to the part where I say UAH has fielded a team for 35 years.

Considering the relative “newness” of the sport in the South, it’s fascinating that the program has been around this long. It’s had its ups (three club national championships, two NCAA Division II national championships, and two Division I tournament appearances) and downs (well documented), but it has been a staple in the Rocket City since the times of disco.

Some may be wonder, “How did this happen?” How did Huntsville become the “Hockey Capital of the South”? How did Huntsville even get started in this sport in the first place?

Former UAH goaltender Budd McLaughlin (1980-82) wrote an great article for i4sports chronicling the evolution of hockey in Huntsville. It starts with the first youth programs headed by Fred Hudson all the way back to 1962 — 17 years before Joe Ritch got his first club team together at UAH.

Want to know about the history of UAH hockey? It starts there.

Fletcher makes Plays of the Week: Brent Fletcher’s first goal of his UAH career, tallied Friday in the 1-1 tie with Alaska-Anchorage, made the WCHA’s Plays of the Week:

Talbot update: For a couple of days, anyway, Cam Talbot was a league leader.

After a 29-save performance in Ottawa where the New York Rangers won 4-1, the former UAH netminder was the NHL leader in goals against average (1.62) and save percentage (.940).

Henrik Lundqvist started the Rangers’ next game at home — a 4-1 win over Washington — and Talbot no longer had the games played to qualify.

Lundqvist was sick Tuesday, so Talbot got the start against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden. Talbot made 32 saves, but allowed four goals — only the third time in 14 starts he’s allowed more than two — as the Rangers fell 5-3. It wasn’t enough to get him back on the leaderboard, although he wouldn’t be No. 1 in goals against average or save percentage if he was.

Still, his 1.78 goals against and .935 save percentage is glowing. And, he’s got a special mask ready should he play in either game of the Stadium Series at Yankee Stadium.

Military Appreciation Weekend was a success at the gate for the Chargers. Friday night’s attendance of 2,6o4 and Saturday’s crowd of 3,614 were season highs. The combined attendance was the highest for a weekend series since November, 2008.

UAH raised over $2,500 auctioning the special camouflage jerseys the Chargers wore in both games.

It will be a while before the Chargers return home. After being off this weekend, UAH goes on three straight road trips: Alaska, Michigan Tech, and Minnesota State. The next home series is Feb. 21-22 against Lake Superior State.

Around the WCHA: A new conference alignment means new rivalries — but where would they come from? We may be seeing one start between Ferris State and Minnesota State.

The Mavericks swept second-ranked Ferris in Mankato last weekend, 6-2 and 4-3, handing the Bulldogs their first two conference losses of the season. But the big news was in Saturday’s game, where a fight in the third period led to the disqualification of two Mavericks (Teddy Blueger and Nashville Predators prospect Zach Stepan) and one Bulldog (Justin DeMartino). Ferris State star goaltender C.J. Motte received a game misconduct but no DQ. A total of 216 penalty minutes were handed out in the contest.

The losses dropped Ferris State to No. 6 in this week’s USCHO.com poll. The Bulldogs remain in first place, but only two points ahead of second-place Minnesota State. Third-place Bowling Green was idle, five points back. With their three points in Huntsville, Alaska-Anchorage moved ahead of Bemidji State (which tied and lost against North Dakota in non-conference action) into fourth.

WCHA Standings Conference Overall
GP W L T Pts W L T
Ferris State 16 12 2 2 26 17 5 3
Minnesota State 18 12 6 0 24 14 10 0
Bowling Green 18 9 6 3 21 12 9 5
Alaska-Anchorage 18 8 7 3 19 12 9 3
Bemidji State 18 7 7 4 18 7 12 7
Northern Michigan 14 7 6 1 15 9 11 2
Lake Superior State 16 7 9 0 14 11 12 1
Alaska 18 6 10 2 14 9 11 4
Michigan Tech 16 5 7 4 14 7 13 6
Alabama-Huntsville 16 1 14 1 3 1 24 1


All times Central.
* WCHA game.

Friday, January 24
* Lake Superior at Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.
* Ferris State at Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m.
* Northern Michigan at Alaska-Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.
* Bemidji State at Alaska, 10:07 p.m.
Minnesota State vs. Minnesota-Duluth, 4 p.m. (North Star College Cup)

Saturday, January 25
* Lake Superior at Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.
* Ferris State at Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m.
* Northern Michigan at Alaska-Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.
* Bemidji State at Alaska, 10:07 p.m.
Minnesota State vs. St. Cloud State or Minnesota, 4 or 7 p.m. (North Star College Cup)