HUNTSVILLE — Northern Michigan (5-5-5, 4-4-3 WCHA) rolled into Huntsville and pressured the Chargers into costly mistakes, coming away with a last-minute goal to snatch victory from the UAH Chargers (3-9-1, 2-8-1 WCHA) by a 4-3 margin. The Wildcats were powered by junior alternate captain Dominik Shine (Pinckney, Mich.) scoring his first collegiate hat trick.
I’ve spent the last three hours trying to figure out what to say about this game. I’ll say this: when UAH was clicking, they were clicking. They put 22 shots on goal in the first period, netting one of them, and put 47 on all told, a mark that the Chargers hadn’t met since March 14, 2009, the last time the team had poured on 40+, in a season-ending tie in the 3rd-place game in the 2009 #CHAForever tournament.
But then there were the ghastly, ghastly turnovers in their end. There were some real head-shakers — the WCHA video cutters left them there for you to see. Puck security was often there, but when it leaked a little, it was like Niagara Falls.
Max McHugh had a solid night on the score sheet, and at a number of points his steadiness with the puck made the offense really click. UAH had one long 1:00+ sustained offensive possession that had NMU scrambling so hard that I actually checked to make sure that I hadn’t missed a penalty. It was that kind of quality execution that we’ve come to expect after having lacked it for so long.
But the turnovers … man, yeah. The first was a forward trying to hold the puck in and blindly making a pass that Shine saw coming and intercepted with a full head of steam. The next, he and a teammate flummoxed retreating UAH defensemen so much that they put the puck right on Shine’s stick. And while you can’t see it in the video, Shine again was the thief, jumping a play and drawing a penalty on his shorthanded breakaway.
All hats are off for Shine, and the bareheaded among us can now be left to shake those heads at our side.