Hoof Beats: Series business in UAH’s playoff return

It’s been a while since UAH has seen postseason action. It’s been even longer since UAH has been in a playoff series.

When the seventh-seeded Chargers play the second-seeded Michigan Tech in a best-of-3 WCHA playoff series starting Friday night, it will be the first postseason action for UAH since 2010, when the Chargers won the College Hockey America Tournament and an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament, where they lost 2-1 to top-ranked Miami in the Midwest Regional semifinals.

This will be the first time UAH has been in a playoff series since its Division II days, and the first time ever in a best-of-3 in the traditional sense. Game 1 of the series in Houghton, Michigan will be Friday night, game 2 is Saturday night, a deciding game 3, if necessary, is Sunday night. All games start at 6:07 p.m. CDT.

Back in the 1990s, the NCAA Division II championship series was a best-of-3 — sort of. The third “game”, if it was needed, was a 15-minute, non-sudden-death period, called a “mini-game.” It was more like best-of-214. Of UAH’s four appearances in the Division II championship against Bemidji State, only in 1994 did the series go to the mini-game: It ended with the score tied at 1-1 and required sudden death overtime, which was won by Bemidji State. The other three were 2-0 sweeps (UAH in 1996 and 1998, Bemidji State in 1997).

College Hockey America never had playoff series in its postseason. All the league’s teams met in one location in a single-elimination tournament. In 11 seasons (1999-2010), UAH won two CHA tournament titles and made the championship game six times.

More WCHA Tournament: UAH at Michigan Tech is one of four WCHA quarterfinal playoff series this weekend.

MacNaughton Cup champion Minnesota State will host No. 8 seed Lake Superior State, No. 3 Bowling Green entertains No. 6 Northern Michigan, and No. 4 seed Bemidji State is hosting a WCHA playoff series for the first time against No. 5 Ferris State.

The four winners will meet at the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., for the WCHA Final Five. The semifinals are Friday, March 20 with the championship game on Saturday, March 21.

Brandon Parker

Brandon Parker leads the Chargers with 14 assists. (Photo by Todd Pavlack/BGSUHockey.com)

Obscure record alert: Freshman defenseman Brandon Parker has 14 assists and no goals this season. The only Charger ever to have that many assists without a goal is Terry Conway back in UAH’s first varsity season in 1985-86.

Parker has the most assists in a season for UAH since Andrew Coburn had 15 in 2009-10.

UConn coming? According to The Hartford Courantthe Connecticut Huskies will visit UAH on October 9-10 to open their 2015-16 season. This would likely be the Chargers’ home opening series.

UConn finished 2014-15 with a 10-19-7 record overall and a 7-11-4 slate in its first season in the powerful Hockey East. The Huskies’ season ended over the weekend after being swept in two games at New Hampshire in the first round of the Hockey East tournament.

UAH is 8-2 all-time against UConn, with the last meeting a 6-2 Charger win at the RPI Holiday Tournament in 2010. The Huskies last came to Huntsville in 2003.

UAH will officially release its 2015-16 schedule in the spring, and season ticket information will likely be available then. They can be ordered by calling 256-UAH-PUCK.

Save the golf date: The UAH Hockey Golf Outing (a.k.a. the “Frenchy Open”) will be Saturday, June 6, at 1 p.m. at Huntsville Country Club. Make plans to take part in the program’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Registration information to come soon.

Friday, June 5, at 7 p.m. will feature a UAH hockey alumni game at the Wilcoxon Ice Complex.

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