Charger update: The first half of the 2018-19 season has been a struggle to say the least. UAH is 3-15-0 overall and 3-9-0 in WCHA play, losing the first 10 games before finally breaking through at Alaska on Nov. 16.
The results have gotten a little better heading into the break. UAH has won two of its last three, getting splits in road WCHA matchups at Bemidji State and Michigan Tech. The Chargers nearly had a sweep in its last action at Tech on Dec. 14-15, getting a 39-save, 1-0 shutout by Mark Sinclair before falling in overtime 2-1 in the second game.
Eight of UAH’s losses have been by one goal, meaning the Chargers have been in almost every game they have played thanks to stellar goaltending and defense. Sinclair is developing into an outstanding netminder in his sophomore season, posting a 2.60 goals against average and a .927 save percentage with a shutout. Senior graduate transfer Jake Theut has had his moments too with his .910 save percentage.
UAH is averaging 16.06 blocked shots per game, fourth highest in Division I. Cam Knight leads the Chargers with 42 blocks, averaging 2.33 per game, which ranks seventh in the nation.
Meanwhile, the offense could not keep up in the first half. Six of those eight one-goal losses were a 2-1 score, and the Chargers have only scored multiple goals four times in 18 games.
Freshman Jack Jeffers has shown some promise, currently leading UAH with five goals on the season. He, sophomore Christian Rajic, and senior graduate transfer Jesper Öhrvall each have six points.
Special teams have been a split, and very indicative of the Chargers’ defensive strength and offensive woes. The penalty kill has been in the top 15 in the country all year round, now at 85 percent efficiency, but the power play is only at 7.2 percent (59th of 60 teams in Division I).
The Chargers return home to resume WCHA play against Ferris State on Jan. 4-5. Puck drop at the VBC Propst Arena is 7:07 p.m. each night.
The Catamount Cup: The 22nd edition of the University of Vermont’s holiday tournament features the host Catamounts, UAH, Northeastern, and Rensselaer. UAH plays Vermont and Northeastern plays RPI on Friday, then UAH plays Northeastern and Vermont plays RPI on Saturday.
UAH participated in the 2010 Catamount Cup, losing to Vermont 4-3 and defeating Mercyhurst 4-1 to take third place.
About the Catamounts: Vermont (5-8-1 overall, 1-6-1 Hockey East) will be in action for the first time in three weeks since splitting a non-conference road series at Colorado College. The Catamounts sit in last place in the 11-team Hockey East.
Like the Chargers, defense and goaltending has kept the Catamounts in a lot of games, but offense has been hard to come by, scoring just over two goals a game. Vermont’s power play is only slightly better than UAH’s at 8.7 percent (58th).
Stefanos Lekkas has started all 14 games between the pipes, posting a .936 save percentage, which leads Hockey East and is third nationally. Vermont’s penalty kill efficiency of 89.4 percent leads Hockey East and is fourth nationally.
UAH’s lone meeting with Vermont was in the 2010 Catamount Cup, with the Catamounts winning 4-3 in the opener,
About the Huskies: Northeastern (10-3-1 overall, 6-1-1 Hockey East) comes into Burlington riding a six-game winning streak. NU’s last game was a 7-2 win at Merrimack on Dec. 8. The 11th-ranked Huskies are tied for third in the Hockey East standings.
The Huskies offense has been hot, scoring 16 goals in their last two contests. They are averaging 4.00 goals per game, which is third in Division I.
Junior Grant Jozefek leads NU with 10 goals and 16 points in 14 games. Zack Solow has nine goals, seven of which have come during an ongoing six-game point-scoring streak. Canucks prospect Tyler Madden has six goals and 15 points on the season, but he is currently playing with Team USA at the World Junior Championships.
Cayden Primeau has started all 14 games in goal, garnering a 2.40 goals against and .918 save percentage with two shutouts, but the Canadiens prospect is also with Team USA at the World Juniors. Senior Ryan Ruck, who has 78 starts at NU, would go for the Huskies.
Northeastern has won all four previous meetings with UAH, sweeping two series in Boston in 2012 and 2013.
This week in the WCHA: All times are Central. All WCHA home games and the Great Lakes Invitational can be seen on FloHockey.tv.
Friday, December 28
UAH at Vermont (Catamount Cup), 6:05 p.m.
#3 Minnesota State vs. #4 Minnesota Duluth (Desert Hockey Classic, Glendale, Ariz.), 5:30 p.m.
Ferris State at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Saturday, December 29
UAH vs. #11 Northeastern (Catamount Cup at Vermont), 3 p.m.
#3 Minnesota State vs. #19 Clarkson/#15 Arizona State (Desert Hockey Classic, Glendale, Ariz.), 5:30/8:30 p.m.
Ferris State at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Alaska Anchorage at Omaha, 7:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at Air Force, 8:05 p.m.
Sunday, December 30
Michigan Tech vs. Michigan (Great Lakes Invitational, Detroit), noon
Lake Superior State vs. Michigan State (Great Lakes Invitational, Detroit), 3 p.m.
Bemidji State at Air Force, 6:05 p.m.
Windsor at Bowling Green (exhibition), 11 a.m.