Finally, the Chargers are in the win column.
Powered by three first-period goals, UAH defeated Northern Michigan 4-2 at the Von Braun Center on Friday night to earn its first victory of the season. The Chargers snapped a 15-game winless streak going back to last season.
The Chargers (1-11-1 overall, 1-7-1 WCHA) also got a strong performance in net by Mark Sinclair, who made 27 saves and kept the Wildcats at bay while they tried to rally.
“Mark Sinclair was good,” UAH head coach Mike Corbett said. “Our goaltending’s been average, and we talked with those guys this week about really stepping up and Mark did.”
UAH will go for two in a row Saturday night at Propst Arena. Game time is at 7:07 p.m.
Meanwhile, NMU (7-6-2 overall, 5-4-0 WCHA) has lost four straight games, all in conference play.
“Don’t relax. Don’t be satisfied,” Corbett said about the message to his team for Saturday. “You’ve got to win one before you can win two. You can think about a sweep because you won Friday night, but we also know that their backs are against the wall and they’re going to come out fighting, and we have to come out better than we were tonight.”
Seemingly out of nowhere, the Chargers busted out to a 3-0 lead, scoring the three goals in a span of 4:09.
The first goal came at 11:26, when Daneel Lategan, just out of the penalty box following a charging penalty, scored on a two-on-none with Brandon Salerno.
At 13:59, Connor Merkley found Tyr Thompson in the slot, who made it 2-0 with his third goal of the season.
“That’s the forecheck we want,” Corbett said. “(Merkley) came in hard on the forecheck, took the body, happened to get the puck, and made a nice play to Tyr right in front. That’s the one you work on in practice all the time. It usually doesn’t work but it worked tonight.”
Then at 15:35, Christian Rajic in the right circle found Josh Latta in the slot. Latta fired his second goal past NMU goaltender John Hawthorne, whose night was done early after allowing three goals on five shots.
Northern Michigan cut UAH’s lead to 3-1 at the 6:22 mark of the second period. Griffin Loughran’s deflection of a blast from the point on the power play resulted in his WCHA-leading 12th goal of the season.
The Wildcats would make a push throughout much of the third period. Replacement goaltender Nolan Kent stopped all 15 shots he faced the rest of the way.
UAH would seal the deal with a minute to go after Kent was pulled for the extra attacker. Connor Wood, who also assisted on Lategan’s goal, fought off a defender and found the open net to put the Chargers up 4-1.
Grant Loven scored for NMU with 32 seconds remaining for the final 4-2 score, but it was too little, too late.
“We had to earn it,” Corbett said. “We earned it tonight. We knew they were coming off a long trip, and we started out fast.
“I’m just happy for (the team). It’s not about me. These guys were beat up after last Saturday’s game against Bemidji (a 7-0 loss) and it’s nice to see them come back. It’s nice to see them earn a victory and they deserved it.”
Three stars of the game:
1. Tyr Thompson, UAH (goal)
2. Mark Sinclair, UAH (27 saves)
3. Daneel Lategan, UAH (goal)
File photo of Connor Wood by Todd Thompson/RiverCat Photography.