Hoof Beats: Chargers look to get over salty home cooking

Twelve games to go. Six at home, six on the road.

The Chargers enter the final third of the regular season tied for fourth place in the WCHA standings. They have 23 points along with their opponent this weekend at the Von Braun Center, 19th-ranked Minnesota State.

UAH is in good position to return to the WCHA playoffs for the second time in its four-year history in the league. The Chargers’ playoff position — and possibly a chance to host a first-round series — may hinge on how well they can defend home ice. That’s been difficult this season: UAH is 1-6-1 in Propst Arena.

Particularly frustrating: In four of those losses and the tie, the Chargers held a lead.

It won’t get easier for the last three home series of the season. In addition to this weekend’s series with the Mavericks, UAH hosts the top two teams in the standings: Bemidji State and Michigan Tech.

The road has been kinder to the Chargers, who are 6-1-1 in WCHA road games this season and currently have a four-game road winning streak. They travel to Lake Superior (currently 8th in the standings), Alaska (7th), and Bowling Green (3rd).

Remember this? Minnesota State’s last visit to Huntsville last February brought a couple of memorable moments. The Chargers managed two ties against the Mavericks, who were atop the WCHA standings at the time.

In the first game, UAH took a 3-2 lead on the strategic “let the opponent put the puck into their own empty net during a delayed penalty” play:

The Mavericks would tie the game in the third period for a 3-3 draw. The next night, despite being outshot 50-20, UAH forced a 1-1 tie in an exciting and more conventional fashion:

Newcomers: UAH received verbal commitments from three junior players over the holiday break.

Needing goaltending depth next season, the Chargers are expected to have Mark Sinclair of Hamilton, Ontario. Sinclair will be coming from the Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League, where in 29 starts has a 2.65 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.

Forward Andrew Dodson of Milton, Ontario is also committed to UAH for next season. The right wing has played the last four seasons with the Carleton Place Canadians of the CCHL. Dodson is the Canadians’ captain and leads the team with 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) this season, tied for fourth in the league. He’ll reunite with UAH forward Jordan Larson, who played for Carleton Place from 2014-16.

Peyton Francis is expected to join the Chargers in 2019. A forward from Oakville, Ont., the 17-year-old Francis plays for the Ottawa West Golden Knights of CCHL2, where he had 25 points in 28 games.

Promotions: The first 500 fans at Friday’s game against Minnesota State will receive a UAH hockey team photo, courtesy of SportsMed. On Saturday, the first 500 fans getting the next set of UAH hockey trading cards. Puck drop for both nights is at 7 p.m.

The Blue Line Club luncheon will be Friday at noon in the Varsity Room of Spragins Hall. Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings will be the guest speaker, and he and UAH coach Mike Corbett will discuss this weekend’s series. Lawlers Barbecue will be catering.