Now that the 2014-15 season is over, let’s take a look about how the Chargers improved from the previous season from a statistical perspective. There are many ways the Chargers improved that reflected in their record, which is where we start.
Record: 2013-14: 2-35-1 (.066); 2014-15: 8-26-4 (.263); Change: +.197
This is the most visible, most obvious improvement. Not only did UAH have six more wins, which is the sixth-biggest jump in Division I, but three more ties — or nine more games where we had points.
Scoring margin: 2013-14: -3.29; 2014-15: -1.55; Change: +1.74
The Chargers had 26 losses, which is still not good. But this shows we’re closing the gap even if we didn’t come through victorious. UAH lost games by five or more goals 12 times in 2013-14. This season: Three. UAH reduced the number of games lost by three or more from 26 to 13.
That’s why general excitement was up this season. The number of games we still had a shot went up from 32 percent to 68 percent.
Offense: 2013-14: 1.08 goals per game; 2014-15: 1.63; Change: +0.55
Still nothing to write home about, but at least we’re no longer dead last in the nation, or even in the WCHA (sorry, Lake Superior State). Three goals has been the magic number this season — this year the Chargers scored three-plus 10 times (as opposed to only three times in 2013-14), and were 6-2-2 in those games.
The freshmen really contributed to the boost, which is why we’re optimistic that the offense will continue to improve its potency with experience. Leading the team was Max McHugh, whose 12 goals are the most by a Charger since Matt Sweazey in 2008-09, and whose 23 points are the most since four Chargers had that many or more in 2006-07. Brandon Parker had 14 assists, most since Andrew Coburn had 15 in 2009-10. UAH freshmen, including Brennan Saulnier, Josh Kestner, Richard Buri, and Cody Champagne, accounted for 61 of 167 points (37 percent) this season.
Meanwhile, our juniors had their best seasons to build on as they become seniors. Chad Brears had 15 points to more than double of career total coming in to 2014-15. Jack Prince’s 14 points is also a career high. Defenseman Frank Misuraca had six MisuRockets™ find the net. And Alex Carpenter, who had no playing time in two seasons at Western Michigan, put together a nice 3-5-8 season in 32 games played.
Coach Mike Corbett has said the goal for UAH is to be the up-and-down team like a Michigan Tech. Building depth behind this corps can do just that.
Defense: 2013-14: 4.37 goals allowed per game; 2014-15: 3.18; Change: +1.19
Again, UAH is still near the bottom of the WCHA in this category (besting only Lake Superior), but as we wait patiently for the offense to catch up, the improved defense really helped the Chargers be competitive.
The rise of sophomore goaltender Carmine Guerriero was a big part of that, of course. His .928 save percentage this season was the fourth best in UAH history and second in the modern Division I era, putting him among the top 20 in the country (currently 14th with others’ conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament to go). His 2.56 goals against average was fifth best in UAH history and third in the Division I era.
But it goes beyond just Guerriero. The Chargers still allowed a lot of shots this season (37.58 shots on goal allowed per game, next to last in Division I), but they also blocked a ton. Brandon Carlson finished the season with 94 blocked shots, currently 2nd in the country. Four Chargers are among the nation’s top 100 defensemen in blocked shots, including Frank Misuraca (69), Brandon Parker (61), and Graeme Strukoff (56).
Power play efficiency: 2013-14: 12-137 (8.8%); 2014-15: 19-124 (15.3%); Change: +6.5%
UAH was dead last in Division I on the power play last season, but found its way to the middle of the pack in the WCHA in 2014-15. The Chargers had the fewer power play opportunities in the WCHA this season, but when they got one, they got aggressive, and it showed. McHugh became even more of a threat, scoring five of his 12 power play goals on the season.
Penalty kill efficiency: 2013-14: 117-166 (70.5%); 2014-15: 164-201 (81.6%); Change: +11.1%
Considering the Chargers were by far the worst on the penalty kill in 2013-14, this was arguably the aspect of UAH’s game that improved the most. The Chargers had the most shorthanded situations in 2014-15 — they were the third-most penalized team in Division I at 15.8 penalty minutes per game — and while the kill percentage is only eighth-best in the WCHA, it feels like night and day.
They had their rocky moments (allowing three power play goals at Air Force negating a 3-0 UAH lead, and six power play goals in a 11-1 drubbing at Michigan Tech during the regular season), but also had impressive streaks: Opponents were 2-for-40 from Nov. 15 (Lake Superior was 0-for-10) to Dec. 14, including a stretch of 17 straight penalties killed, and a string of 19 straight kills from Feb. 13-21.
So the numbers may not be great, but they show the improvement this club made over the season. And there’s so much potential to get better. And that means more wins. Get excited for 2015-16.