UAH (4-14-3, 3-10-0 WCHA) took an early lead on the strength of two first-period goals by freshman forward Max McHugh (Seattle, Wash.), followed by a marker from sophomore forward Cody Marooney (Eden Prairie, Minn.) just 2:03 into the second frame. From there, the Chargers held on for a 3-2 victory over Alaska-Anchorage (5-8-4, 2-7-2 WCHA), points which moved them out of the basement in the WCHA standings. (It’s a league game, Smokey.)
McHugh got things started early, taking a drop feed from junior forward Chad Brears (Cold Lake, Alb.) and rifling the puck home past Anchorage freshman goaltender Olivier Mantha (La Tuque, Qué.) just 3:59 into the game. Freshman defenseman Cody Champagne (Brookfield, Conn.) picked up the secondary assist.
McHugh dented the twine with just :32 left in the first period, when a centering feed from junior forward Jack Prince (Leicester, England) found the freshman with time and space at the top of the circles. He ripped one through and past Mantha (17 sv) for his seventh goal of the season. The secondary assist went to Brears.
Let’s stop here for a point that Michael made to me in a text: with 7-7—14, McHugh has already eclipsed the season scoring leaders for 2011-12 (Kyle Lysaght with 13), 2012-13 (then-sophomore forward Jeff Vanderlugt [Richmond Hill, Ont.] with 11), and 2013-14 (Prince with 13). McHugh looks to be the first Charger to record double-digit goals since Matt Sweazey (Toronto) in 2008-09. Max McCutie, we’re on the way back because guys like you are giving us a shot.
Marooney muscled the puck past Mantha (4-6-3) after junior defenseman Frank Misuraca (Clinton Township, Mich.) fired up a Misurocket™ and into the Seawolf crease. Marooney’s goal was his second of the year. Vanderlugt got the secondary assist.
From there, it was just hanging in there. The Seawolves cut the lead to two on a power-play goal by senior forward Scott Allen (Edmonton, Alb.), who was assisted by freshman forward Tad Kozun (Nipawin, Sask.) and junior defenseman Blake Leask (Edmonton, Alb.). The marker ended a shutout by UAH sophomore goaltender Carmine Guerriero (Montréal, Qué.), who had 31 saves overall.
Kozun narrowed the margin to one when sophomore forward Brad Duwe (Solodotna, Alaska) fed him the puck after dekeing a Charger out of position. Kozun’s shot rang the post on the way past Guerriero, who moved to 4-8-2 on the season.
The Chargers would hold on thereafter, as they were outshot 10-5 by the Seawolves in the final frame. Worse still for the home squad, freshman defenseman Brandon Parker (Faribault, Minn.) was called for tripping at 16:32, and Prince was whistled for slashing at 19:33. Mantha was out of the net for the final 2:10 of the game, but Guerriero closed all of the doors that his teammates didn’t.
This wasn’t a statement win for UAH — that would’ve been taking a 3-0 or 4-0 lead into the second intermission. But this was UAH proving to itself that it could open up a big lead, play with fire, and pull it back in. While last year’s UAH team, bereft of offense, would’ve never opened up a three-goal lead on an opponent, that team also would’ve likely not been able to hold it. This team did, though — the lessons of Colorado Springs were learned.
The Chargers and Seawolves are back at it at 7:07 p.m. Central Standard Time in Huntsville. Michael Napier will have coverage, and woe betide if you’re stuck watching the UAH broadcast on WCHA TV. (More on that next week.)