Last season, with a ton of freshman and buzz from joining a new conference, UAH went up to Boston to play a Northeastern team not expected to do too much. That Northeastern team went 19-14-4, starting with a four-goal first period against a stunned Charger team on the way to a 9-2 thrashing.
Friday night, UAH took some more freshman — and a handful of sophomores whose first college hockey experience was that night in Boston — went to Colorado Springs to face a Colorado College team not expected to do too much.
The Chargers lost this time as well, 3-2 to the Tigers, but an early deficit drown them this time. And with this UAH team still bursting with youth, the resiliency is a great sign.
Still, a loss is a loss, UAH’s fifth season opener in a row. Cody Bradley’s goal with 7:03 remaining was the game-winner for a Colorado College team that outshot the Chargers 40-18.
Like last year, UAH found itself behind quickly. Penalties didn’t help, and CC took advantage of a Jeff Vanderlugt tripping call to net the first goal of the game. Aaron Harstad’s blast from the right point found its way past Carmine Guerriero at the 3:45 mark.
The Tigers got two more power plays over the next nine minutes, and the Chargers were able to hold them off. However, a defensive lapse left Teemu Kimihalme all alone in the left circle, and he slapped it past Guerriero for a 2-0 CC lead halfway through the first.
CC had an 11-1 shots advantage by that point, but UAH started to get into the flow more in the second half of the period. The Chargers got a handful of couple of scoring chances in a stretch of five minutes with only one stoppage of play, but could not find the net.
UAH carried that energy into the second, and sustaining that energy and confidence paid off. The Chargers spent much more time in the offensive zone, and despite CC having more shots on goal in the period, UAH battled back to tie the game.
The first Charger goal of the season came at 12:11 of the second, when on a UAH power play, Chad Brears shot rebounded off CC goaltender Tyler Marble, and Brent Fletcher found the net to cut the Tigers’ lead to 2-1. Brandon Parker also got an assist for his first point at UAH.
About six minutes later, the Chargers got an odd man rush. Alex Carpenter from the left side sent a sweet centering pass to Jeff Vanderlugt, who knocked it home to tie the game at 2-2 with 1:59 left in the 2nd. Carpenter, a junior who transferred to UAH from Western Michigan but never played a game for the Broncos, got his first college point.
UAH found itself shorthanded for a chunk of the beginning of the third period, the Chargers were able to withstand Tiger rushes thanks to quick work by Guerriero, who finished the night with 37 saves.
And it seemed UAH would capitalize after another big penalty kill with under eight minutes to go, but on an odd man rush, Bradley’s blast top shelf gave CC the lead again. After that, CC continued to pin the Chargers in their own end, and UAH couldn’t get the offensive rushes need to equalize.
The Chargers and Tigers face off again at 8:05 p.m. CDT on Saturday.