This is the way the season ends: not with a bang, but with a whimper.
UAH did enough in their win and tie in the Soo to make the WCHA postseason; with those three points, UAH avoided nail-biting late into the night to see if Alaska-Anchorage could pick up points at home against Alaska. Otherwise, February and March have been a disaster for the Chargers, who end the regular season with six losses.
UAH coach Mike Corbett shook things up on Saturday night, starting his fourth line and sophomore goaltender Matt Larose (Nanaimo, B.C.). It generally helped, as the Chargers clamped down the opposition’s ability to put shots on goal, allowing just 28 overall.
The defensive effort, combined with excellent play from Larose, limited the Falcons to just two goals on the night, one of which was on the power play. Unfortunately for UAH, their offense was pedestrian, and the Falcons won 2-1.
BG junior forward Mark Cooper (Toronto) kicked off scoring early in the first with a point shot that slid past Larose (26sv), who was screened — and it looked like the puck went in off of a Charger defenseman’s leg.
Sophomore defenseman Brandon Carlson (Huntington, Beach, Calif.) knotted the game at one just 2:41 later with — you guessed it — a point shot through a screen. Freshman defenseman Brandon Parker (Faribault, Minn.) and freshman forward Brennan Saulnier (Halifax, Nova Scotia) picked up the assists.
The Falcons’ game-winning goal came late in the first period when freshman forward Mitchell McLain (Baxter, Minn.) returned to the power play with a fresh stick, found the puck, and ripped one past everyone.
Neither team did much for the final two periods; BG outshot UAH 15-11, and there were just three penalties (two on UAH) in the final two stanzas.
A loss by Lake Superior against Ferris State makes the Chargers the 7th seed, as UAH was 2-1-1 v. the Lakers in 2014-15. UAH will face No. 2 seed Michigan Tech in a best-of-3 WCHA quarterfinal series starting Friday night at 6 p.m. CDT. We’ll have more on that for you later this week.
But despite the disappointing finish, UAH is in the postseason, and not just because Alaska was ineligible. After a two-win season, UAH has seven conference wins and eight overall. January’s four home wins show that significant progress has been made.
Now the boys get to try and be world beaters.
Note: Updated with UAH’s opponent in the WCHA quarterfinals. – Michael Napier