The Chargers return from their holiday break with their last non-conference games of the season at the Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis, hosted by the University of Minnesota.
UAH will play Massachusetts in the first game on Friday at 4 p.m. The second game between Mercyhurst and Minnesota is at 7 p.m. The losers play in the third-place game Saturday at 4, with the championship game at 7.
This is UAH’s third appearance in the tournament. In 2006, the Chargers finished in third place, losing to Minnesota and beating Massachusetts, and in 2012, UAH finished fourth after losing to then-No. 1 Boston College and Air Force.
Charger recap: UAH (7-11-2 overall, 7-7-2 WCHA) earned its third road sweep of the season on Dec. 9-10, taking 4-1 and 3-1 decisions at Northern Michigan. The Chargers have tied a program record with four straight road victories.
Brandon Parker had a goal in each game, plus an assist, as he earned the WCHA Defensive Player of Week award. Parker has scored in four of his last five games.
Josh Kestner also had two goals and an assist in the series, moving up to 16 points on the season to lead the team and tie him for 8th in the WCHA.
Goaltender Jordan Uhelski posted another two solid starts, allowing just the goal in each game and making 47 saves. The junior’s save percentage went up to .908 and his goals against average went down to 2.73. His 2.28 GAA and .917 save percentage in WCHA games are both fourth-best in the league.
The Chargers are tied for fourth place in the WCHA standings with Minnesota State with 23 points. They have already matched their most WCHA wins in a season with seven.
About the Minutemen: Massachusetts (4-12-2 overall, 2-7-1 Hockey East) has lost five games in a row, currently sitting in eighth place in Hockey East. The Minutemen’s last action was two weeks ago against Arizona State, which swept UMass by two 4-1 scores. UMass did get a 5-4 win over then-No. 12 Notre Dame on Dec. 12 before its current losing streak.
UMass relies on a number of underclassmen — 15 of its 40 goals this season have come from freshmen. Sophomore Austin Pleavy leads the squad with five goals and 12 points, while another sophomore (Kurt Keats) and two freshmen (Griff Jeszka and Jonny Lazarus) each have four goals. Senior captain Steve Iacobellis also has four goals, with three coming in the last six games. Freshman Ryan Wischow has been the Minutemen’s primary goaltender, starting 14 of the team’s 18 games (.904 SV%, 2.82 GAA).
In 2006, the Chargers beat Massachusetts 5-2 in the third-place game of the Mariucci Classic, which is the only time UAH and UMass have previously met. That game was on Dec. 30, 2006, ten years to the day of Friday’s matchup.
About the Lakers: Mercyhurst (7-9-1 overall, 7-6-1 Atlantic Hockey), which plays host Minnesota in the semifinals, comes into the tournament on a 3-1-1 stretch in its last five games. The Lakers took three of four points in a home-and-home with Robert Morris two weekends ago, moving into fourth place in Atlantic Hockey.
Junior left wing Jonathan Charbonneau has been the force for the Lakers, scoring 10 goals on the season in 16 games. His centerman, sophomore Derek Barach, has 16 assists for a total of 19 points to lead the club. Defenseman Lester Lancaster has also been dishing out assists with 12. Goaltending duties have been split between junior Brandon Wildung (.896 SV%, 3.64 GAA) and freshman Colin DeAugustine (.921, 2.73).
UAH is 4-6-3 all-time against Mercyhurst, including a 1-4-2 record in the modern Division I era (3-2-1 when both clubs were in Division II). The Lakers have won the last four meetings, having swept series in 2010 and 2011.
About the Golden Gophers: Minnesota (9-5-2 overall, 3-1-0 Big Ten) is ranked No. 11 in the last USCHO.com poll. The Gophers have taken the early lead in the Big Ten and have won four of their last five, including a victory at then-No. 4 Boston College and a split with No. 10 Ohio State.
Sophomore Tyler Sheehy leads the Gophers with 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points. A pair of seniors, Justin Kloos and Vinni Lettieri, have each chipped in seven goals. Minnesota has 12 NHL prospects, including Nashville Predator draftees Rem Pitlick (3rd round, 2016) and Tommy Novack (2nd round, 2015). Eric Schierhorn is the primary goaltender (.882 SV%, 2.93 GAA in 16 starts).
UAH is 0-4-0 against Minnesota, all games in Minneapolis. The last matchup was in the 2006 Mariucci Classic, with the Gophers winning 3-1 in the opening game.
Around the WCHA: All times Central. Games featuring WCHA teams at home can be seen on WCHA.tv.
Wednesday, Dec. 28
Northern Michigan vs. Cornell, 3 p.m. (Florida College Classic, Estero, Fla.)
Thursday, Dec. 29
Michigan vs. Michigan Tech, 2:30 p.m. (Great Lakes Invitational, Detroit)
Colorado College/Merrimack vs. Northern Michigan, 3 or 6:30 p.m. (Florida College Classic, Estero, Fla.)
Ferris State vs. Robert Morris, 6:30 p.m. (Three Rivers Classic, Pittsburgh)
Friday, Dec. 30
UAH vs. Massachusetts, 4 p.m. (Mariucci Classic, Minneapolis)
#15 Bemidji State at Alaska Anchorage, 4:37 p.m.
#16 Western Michigan/Michigan State vs. Michigan Tech, 2:30 or 6 p.m. (Great Lakes Invitational, Detroit)
#6 Boston College/#14 Quinnipiac vs. Ferris State, 3:30 or 6:30 p.m. (Three Rivers Classic, Pittsburgh)
RIT at Bowling Green, 4:07 p.m. (Toledo, Ohio)
Lake Superior State at #20 Omaha, 7:07 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 31
UAH vs. Mercyhurst/#11 Minnesota, 4 or 7 p.m. (Mariucci Classic, Minneapolis)
#15 Bemidji State at Alaska Anchorage, 4:37 p.m.
Alaska at #12 Notre Dame, 3:05 p.m.
Lake Superior State at #20 Omaga, 4:07 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 1
Alaska at #12 Notre Dame, 1:05 p.m.