Lake State 1, UAH 0

See, I’ve been sitting on this idea that I’d start any tweet of a Brennan Saulnier goal with “BETTER CALL SAUL!”  Unfortunately for the Chargers, the freshman forward from Halifax, Nova Scotia took two major penalties, and the best efforts of the Charger penalty killers, led by Carmine Guerriero (33sv, Montréal, Que.), could not keep all Laker shots out of the net.  Lake Superior State University junior forward Bryce Schmitt (Minot, N.D.) bested Guerriero (1-4-1) on Saulnier’s second major, and that’s all she wrote.

The Chargers’ penalty problems worked against them in this contest.  The home squad spent seven of the last eight minutes of the first period with a man in the penalty box.  Even so, the Chargers led the shots on goal race 11-9 after the first 20 minutes.

The second period was not as kind, as the Lakers outshot UAH 16-6 after a minor interference penalty to Richard Buri (Nitra, Slovakia) followed by a major one to Saulnier gave the Lakers plenty of opportunity to turn the west end of the Propst Arena into a shooting gallery.  A late-period power play for UAH didn’t prove fruitful, as freshman goaltender Gordon Defiel (Stillwater, Minn.) stopped all of those shots on his way to a 26-save shutout performance and the win (2-7-0).

The third period was largely uneventful, with no penalties called and the teams each putting nine shots on net.

This was a frustrating game for everyone, to be sure.  After a win and a tie last weekend at Air Force, everyone was feeling it — and we all had high hopes for Saulnier, who was the WCHA Rookie of the Week for his efforts in Colorado Springs.  Lake Superior isn’t setting the world on fire, either, and we all know that there are playoff implications for this series.

Should Saulnier sit out on Saturday night?  I certainly argued for it in the moment earlier tonight.  I think that he might do so if the Chargers had depth, but they don’t, as senior forward Jeff Vanderlugt (Richmond Hill, Ont.) has been absent from the lineup after his auspicious start, which likely means that he is injured.  (I have not discussed his status with any of the coaches.)  Vandy is a key cog in the Chargers system, a big body with good skills who led the team in goals and points his sophomore year and was tied for third in goals last year.  Corbett doesn’t have any depth: UAH has started just 13 forwards all season.  Corbett would have to dig into the guys he brought in to fill out the roster, and I’m fairly sure that he doesn’t want to do that in a league matchup.

I’m focused on the penalty situation so much because it obscured the rest of the game.  Killing 16 minutes of penalties wears a team down, and a team with UAH’s scoring woes — seven goals last weekend notwithstanding — will find it hard to net many goals when they have the luxury of three forwards on the ice.  After those first twelve minutes, UAH had difficulty establishing a lot of flow in the way that we saw last weekend.

It will come.  Let’s hope that it comes tomorrow night and we can get our first league win out of the way in November.

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