UAH coach Mike Corbett said two weeks ago after the Chargers’ dreadful series at Michigan Tech that the team’s response would determine whether they would make the WCHA playoffs.
Nothing was clinched this weekend, but the response the Chargers had in Sault Ste. Marie was a step in the right direction.
UAH defeated Lake Superior State 3-1 on Saturday, taking three points on the road from the Lakers and sole possession of eighth place (and seventh playoff seed) in the WCHA.
Carmine Guerriero made 25 saves, and Max McHugh scored the game-winner in the third period for the Chargers (8-18-4 overall, 7-14-1 WCHA), whose 15 points moved two clear of Lake Superior (7-23-2 overall, 6-17-1 WCHA) and five over Alaska-Anchorage (which was swept by Michigan Tech). UAH remained three points behind seventh-place Ferris State, which beat Bowling Green in overtime.
Unlike Friday when only one penalty was called all game, Saturday was penalty-filled, with lots of holding, tripping, roughing after the whistle, and general chippiness. Seventeen penalties were called total, with nine against UAH.
It started with Josh Kestner’s high sticking call at 5:41, then Graeme Strukoff was called for holding at 11:58. The Chargers were able to kill those penalties easily, but the big one came at 15:14, when Jeff Vanderlugt tripped and cross-checked LSSU’s Stephen Perfetto.
During the four-minute power play, UAH goaltender Carmine Guerriero made some key stops, keeping the game scoreless until a Lake Superior holding penalty on Garret Clemment ended the Lakers’ advantage.
UAH’s best scoring chance in the first period came with Brent Fletcher all alone in front of LSSU goaltender Gordon Defiel, who made the stop.
The Chargers started the second period with a power play extended by a tripping call on Lake Superior’s Aidan Wright. However, Perfetto found Gus Correale, who wristed a short-handed goal past Guerriero to give the Lakers a 1-0 lead just 43 seconds in the frame. It was Correale who scored Lake Superior’s lone goal Friday night.
But Doug Reid would do the same. The senior captain, who tied the game at 1-1 on Friday, did it again Saturday, beating Defiel with 5:05 left in the second. It was Reid’s second goal of the season, assisted by a nice pass by Jack Prince.
In the third, UAH would be the team to finally break through on the power play. The Chargers were already feeling the groove in the offensive zone and getting some shots on Defiel, and just nine seconds after LSSU’s Jayson Angus was called for holding, McHugh knocked in a rebound to give UAH the 2-1 lead with 11:32 to go.
McHugh was assisted by Prince’s second helper on the night, and Brandon Parker’s team-leading 12th assist of the season.
McHugh’s interference call gave the Lakers a chance to tie it, but despite a flurry where Guerriero had to make a couple of saves, the penalty was killed. LSSU finished 0-for-7 with the advantage for the game.
Defiel was pulled to give Lake Superior the extra attacker with two minutes left and continued to put on the pressure. But at the end, Brent Fletcher’s long clear found the empty net for the final 3-1 victory score.
UAH now comes home for two weeks with the goal of locking down its first WCHA playoff berth. Ferris State comes to Huntsville on Feb. 20 and 21, followed by Alaska on Feb. 27 and 28.