Hey, UAH won at home tonight!
The last Division I home win was back in January 2011 over our least favorite rodents, Bemidji State, a game where Matt Baxter (Toronto, Ont.) scored two of UAH’s three power-play goals and an unassisted, shorthanded goal by (That Damn) Matt Read wasn’t enough to bring the Beavers level. It may seem a little painful to think about all what I’ll write next, but I think that it’s important. Why? This is another turning point. This is the way up. This is our road back to .500.
So the last time UAH won a D-I home game:
- U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ08) was shot that day.
- If you want something happier to think about, the Seattle Seahawks’ “beast quake”, spawned by a spectacular 15-second touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch, happened that night.
- U.S. President Barack Obama was 12 days from beginning his third year as President.
- Bob Riley had another nine days left as Governor of Alabama.
- Osama bin Laden was still alive.
- “Twerk” wasn’t a mainstream term, and the Twerk Team wasn’t get together. Also, we all had some respect left for Miley Cyrus.
- Gas prices in Huntsville were in the $2.90/gal range for 87 unleaded; as we all know, they’d peak at $3.829/gal 15 months later. (Correlation != causation.)
- Dilbert was still sorta funny. (I am a big picture guy. Michael is the implementer.)
- Justin Bieber’s career fell apart.
- UAH went through two coaches.
- The Miami Heat’s dynasty won their two rings and then imploded when LeBron went back to Cleveland.
- NASA folks were still licking the wounds the cancellation of Constellation, and we didn’t know that SLS was in the offing.
- The Missile Defense Agency BRAC wasn’t fully complete.
- Gangnam Style was more than a year away from reality.
- One Direction hadn’t released an album yet. They now have three.
- UAH is 0-28-3 since.
- UAH had turned over all of the players from that team. Yes, no UAH Charger hockey player had won a Division I home game before tonight.
So let’s talk about why they won.
“Our PK was 10 for 10, and our power play was 3-for-3,” junior forward Jack Prince (Leicester, England) said. It’s not often that you can say that your special teams are 100%, and tonight it was for us. When your special teams are 100%, that’s usually going to be a good result, and for us, tonight, it was.”
Prince’s power-play goal put the nail in the coffin in a 5-2 defeat of WCHA foe Lake Superior State University. The Lakers fall to 2-10-0 (2-6-0 WCHA) on the season, while the Chargers improve to 2-8-2 (1-5-0).
There were significant changes to the lineup. Senior defenseman Graeme Strukoff (Chiliwack, B.C.) was in and senior defenseman Ben Reinhardt (Arnprior, Ont.) was out. Junior defenseman Anderson White (Caledon, Ont.) was in so that sophomore defenseman Brandon Carlson (Huntington Beach, Calif.) could play forward. Sophomore forward Regan Soquila (Maple Ridge, B.C.) and junior forward Alex Carpenter (Portage, Mich.) left the forward rotation for Carlson and senior forward Jeff Vanderlugt (Richmond Hill, Ont.) respectively.
But the most important lineup move was one that didn’t make a change, as sophomore goaltender Carmine Guerriero (Montréal, Que.) again started in net for the Chargers. His 23-save effort was enough to move him to 2-4-1 on the season.
For UAH coach Mike Corbett, playing Guerriero both nights was an instinct. “He was the best player on the ice. Matt Larose didn’t lose his spot. [Guerriero]’s playing so well that we just had to give him the extra game.” Throughout their tenure as a tandem, neither Guerriero nor Larose had started both nights of a weekend, though each had come to relieve the other for the bulk of a start before playing their full game. The change surprised many, including both Michael and me.
When I spoke with Guerriero late last season, I asked him what he’d be working on over the summer. I hadn’t even finished the question when he responded with one word: “Conditioning.” It always felt to me that Corbett felt uneasy about playing either goaltender both nights regardless of the success from the Friday game. Witness the Air Force weekend: after a solid night on Friday, Carmine gave way to Matt on Saturday, who stopped 36-of-39. Even after stopping 61 shots in a game last season, Guerriero knew that he’d have to come back stronger for his sophomore campaign.
“I worked hard this summer with my goalie coach, and I think that it paid off, honestly,” Guerriero said. He was effusive in his praise for his teammates — despite enduring 10 power plays, UAH allowed just 25 shots on goal. “I was just there in case they needed me.” When asked if he missed the extra work, he said, “That’s okay. I like it. It’s what I’m there for.”
Senior captain Doug Reid (Innisfil, Ont.) was elated after the win. “It feels great, and it’s been a long time coming,” he said of his first Division I home win. “We knew that we had to come in and compete. We really out-worked them, and we got the result that we wanted.”
Reid praised his teammates’ work on the PK. “We play a very disciplined game when killing penalties. We know that we’re a defensive team, so our focus is to just get to the puck and get it out.”
The Chargers got goals from five different skaters. Sophomore forward Cody Marooney (Eden Prairie, Minn.) got the first goal of the night with a shorthanded marker that came most of the way through a bench minor served by Prince for too many men on the ice. Marooney forced a turnover with pressure and sliced right through the Laker defense and past freshman netminder Gordon Defiel (Stillwater, Minn.), who had just 25 saves on the night.
Freshman defenseman Richard Buri (Nitra, Slovakia) scored fifteen seconds after serving a minor tripping penalty to push the Chargers to 2-0 5:22 into the second period. Laker goals off of the sticks of senior forward and assistant captain Chris Ciotti (Oxford, Mich.) and sophomore forward Garret Clemment (Wausau, Wisc.) knotted the game up at two apiece with just 3:23 left in the second.
But a tripping penalty by sophomore forward Gus Correale (Prince George, B.C.) set up the Chargers’ power play with their first opportunity of the night after killing seven Laker power plays. Freshman forward Max McHugh (Seattle, Wash.) made the Lakers pay for their sin a minute into the advantage, and the Chargers would retain a one-goal lead into the third.
The UAH offense would turn into overdrive in the final frame, peppering Defiel with ten shots, including a power-play marker by Vanderlugt in his first action in two weeks. Prince would roof the puck to finish the Lakers off, laughing off an early miscue. “I had a wide open net early and hit the post, and I knew then that it would be a long night.”
The Chargers travel to Ferris State next weekend for a tilt against the tough Bulldogs, who nearly doubled their season scoring output with fourteen goals this weekend against Alaska-Anchorage. “I’m super excited,” Guerriero said. “It’s a nice rink and very rowdy. We just want to keep up this momentum that the boys have and pick up two W’s on the road.”
And then there’s Michigan Tech in two weeks, who are the likely #1 when the next round of polls come out, as they defeated Bemidji State tonight to move to 10-0-0 (thanks, boys) while the other unbeaten all lost this weekend. “I’m excited for that as well,” Guerriero said. “It’s a challenge, and we want the opportunity to show everyone what we’re capable of.” The Huskies go to Mankato next weekend to face the Mavericks, and the Verizon Wireless Center is a tough place to play. That said, the Huskies are rolling right now, and we could have the #1 team in town the day after Thanksgiving.