Mar 132017
 

What to make of this season?

The Chargers increased their win total (both overall and in the WCHA), but barely, and they failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year. UAH led in more games this season but left many points on the table. One step forward, one step back (or vice versa).

Here’s a look inside some of the numbers.

Record:
2014-15: 8-26-4 (.263) overall, 7-20-1 (.268) WCHA
2015-16: 7-21-6 (.294) overall, 5-17-6 (.286) WCHA
2016-17: 9-22-3 (.309) overall, 9-16-3 (.375) WCHA
Change from 2015-16:+.015 overall, +.089 WCHA

A very slight improvement in the overall record, and a bigger improvement in the WCHA record. Easily the best record UAH has had in its four years in the league, but the 0-6 non-conference slate brought the overall record down (a problem across the WCHA). Odd how the worst of the past three seasons (2014-15) was the one time the Chargers qualified for the playoffs.

Scoring margin:
2014-15: -1.55
2015-16: -0.97
2016-17: -1.35
Change from 2015-16: -0.38

When the Chargers won, it wasn’t a blowout, and half the time it rained, it poured. UAH won by three goals four times, and never by four or more. Meanwhile, UAH lost by three or more 13 times (and six by four or more).

Josh Kestner

Josh Kestner has 9 goals and 22 points on the season. (UAH Athletics/Doug Eagan)

Offense:
2014-15: 1.63 goals per game
2015-16: 2.15
2016-17: 2.18
Change from 2015-16: +0.08

Not much change here. The Chargers did get a little boost in scoring in conference games (from 2.18 goals per game to 2.43), but they were still near the bottom of the league.

If anything, there was more distribution of points this season. Nine players had 10 or more points, compared to six in 2015-16.

Huntsville native Josh Kestner rose to the top of UAH’s scoring chart this season with 22 points in his junior season compared to just eight the year prior. He was tied for the lead in goals with nine.

The guy Kestner was tied with is Kurt Gosselin, a defenseman. Three of his goals came in one game, at home against Ferris State on December 3, the first hat trick for a UAH player since Cale Tanaka in 2008. He and fellow junior defenseman Brandon Parker (six goals) showed they could be a threat from the blue line.

Sophomore defenseman Cam Knight had 16 assists, the most by a Charger in 10 years.

Jordan Uhelski moved to the top of UAH’s goalie depth chart. (Photo by UAH Athletics)

Defense:
2014-15: 3.18 goals allowed per game
2015-16: 3.12
2016-17: 3.53 
Change: +0.41

The Chargers regressed on defense. UAH allowed five or more goals 10 times out of 34 games this season, double the number in 2015-16.

Junior goaltender Jordan Uhelski, who had saw no action until this season, took the reigns as the Chargers’ No. 1 as the two seniors couldn’t regain their form. Matt Larose was solid in the opening series as UAH swept at Ferris State, but struggled shortly afterward, opening the door for Uhelski. Carmine Guerriero was ineligible for the first 12 games of the season, but when he returned he couldn’t find the consistency that had made him tough to beat.

UAH reduced the number of shots on goal allowed per game further, from 33.18 last year to 31.17 this year.

The Chargers didn’t block as many shots per game as last year at 12.41 per game. Cam Knight and Brandon Parker both lead the Chargers in blocked shots with 56.

Power play efficiency:
2014-15: 19-124 (15.3%)
2015-16: 15-140 (10.7%)
2016-17: 18-167 (10.8%)
Change: +0.1%

Virtually no change here. UAH was again one of the least inefficient power play units in the country (only Alaska Anchorage was worse in the WCHA). A third of the power play goals came from defensemen Gosselin and Parker (each with three). Max McHugh also had three power play goals.

UAH had four games with multiple power play goals, but the season had long stretches where it just wasn’t clicking. The Chargers did not convert on their final 23 opportunities, and had another stretch from Dec. 30 to Jan. 27 where they went 1-for-31.

Penalty killing efficiency:
2014-15: 164-201 (81.6%)
2015-16: 119-145 (82.1%)
2016-17: 128-163 (78.5%)
Change: -3.6%

Coinciding with the regression in defense was the regression in penalty killing, which fell to the bottom of the WCHA. Unlike the 2015-16 season, where the PK unites put together some impressive streaks, this was consistently an issue: Opponents scored on their power play at least once in 22 of 34 games, with only one three-game stretch where the Chargers shut out the opponents’ power play in consecutive games. UAH allowed three or more power play goals in a game four times.

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