Hoof Beats: Hot penalty killing streak continues

Some Charger hockey notes as we wrap the first half of the season and enter the holiday break.

Penalty kill streak continues: With Colorado College going 0-for-5 on the power play on Saturday and 0-for-11 in the series, UAH has now killed off 32 straight power play opportunities.

The Chargers have not allowed a power play goal in eight games. Before then UAH allowed five power play goals in 10 opportunities in the series at Bowling Green on Nov. 20 and 21.

UAH has climbed to second in the WCHA in penalty kill efficiency at 86.7 percent (14th best in Division I), trailing only Bemidji State’s 89.9 percent. It’s been needed, too: UAH leads the WCHA and is fifth in the nation in penalty minutes per game at 14.9.

It’s the longest successful penalty kill streak for the Chargers since the 2002-03 season, when they killed 45 straight over a seven-game stretch. That’s the longest streak in at least UAH’s modern Division I history.

Chad Brears (Photo by UAH Athletics/Doug Eagan)

Chad Brears (Photo by UAH Athletics/Doug Eagan)

Brears on a roll: Although he didn’t score in Saturday’s win, Chad Brears has been the hottest offensive threat for the Chargers. In his last eight games, the senior from Cold Lake, Alberta has scored five goals.

Brears has taken the team lead with seven goals this season, which is already his season high at UAH. He has 17 goals in his UAH career, and 40 total points.

WCHA leaders: Max McHugh‘s 16 points is tied for fifth-highest in the WCHA. Brennan Saulnier is seventh with 15. Brears’ seven goals is tied for eighth in the league.

McHugh’s 12 assists is tops in the WCHA, and Saulnier’s nine is tied for seventh.

A win over the NCHC: UAH’s 2-1 win over Colorado College on Saturday was only the second victory by a WCHA team over an NCHC team this season. The other win was Bemidji State beating Minnesota Duluth 3-2 on Oct. 10.

The WCHA is 2-11-2 against the NCHC this season. UAH’s next chance to represent the WCHA against the NCHC is its next series: Jan. 1 and 2 at No. 2 North Dakota.

Against other conferences, the WCHA is 3-0-1 against Atlantic Hockey, 6-4-5 against the Big Ten, 2-0-0 against the ECAC, 1-1-0 against Hockey East (UAH’s split against Connecticut to start the season), and 1-3-0 against independent Arizona State.

Getting (at least) a goal: UAH has scored at least one goal in all 18 games this season. Michigan Tech is the only other WCHA team not to be shut out this season.

Last season, the Chargers were shut out three times through 18 games. In 2013-14, they were shut out seven times. In 2012-13, six times. In 2011-12, seven times.

Next home series: After the Chargers visit North Dakota over New Year’s, they will return home to resume WCHA play against the Alaska Nanooks on Jan. 8 and 9. The Friday, Jan. 8 game will be televised on American Sports Network and, in Canada, TSN2. ASN is not carried by cable and satellite providers in Huntsville.

It will be a huge series for the Chargers as they try to get back into playoff positioning. UAH is in last place, but three points behind the Nanooks, who sit in ninth. The eighth and final playoff spot is currently held by Bemidji State, which is four points ahead of UAH.

WCHA over the holidays: Here’s the schedule for WCHA teams over the rest of the holidays (all times Central).

Tuesday, Dec. 29
Northern Michigan vs. Michigan, 2:30 p.m. (Great Lakes Invitational, Detroit)
Michigan State vs. Michigan Tech, 6 p.m. (Great Lakes Invitational, Detroit)
Lake Superior State at Vermont, 6:05 p.m. (Catamount Cup)

Wednesday, Dec. 30
Great Lakes Invitational third place game, 2:30 p.m.
Great Lakes Invitational championship, 6 p.m.
Lake Superior State vs. Brown, 3 p.m. (Catamount Cup at Vermont)
Western Michigan at Bowling Green, 4:07 p.m. (Toledo)

Friday, Jan. 1
UAH at North Dakota, 7:37 p.m.
Ferris State vs. Harvard, 4:05 p.m. (Mariucci Classic at Minnesota)

Saturday, Jan. 2
UAH at North Dakota, 7:07 p.m.
Connecticut/Minnesota vs. Ferris State, 3 or 7 p.m. (Mariucci Classic third place or championship)
Clarkson at Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at Alaska, 10:07 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 3
Clarkson at Bowling Green, 4:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at Alaska, 8:07 p.m.

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