Hoof Beats: Restocking the roster

Recent events have the roster for the 2020-21 Charger hockey team getting a face-lift.

That’s to be expected after the program’s short-lived elimination. Returning players and incoming freshmen started to look for new schools to play for right after the announcement that the program was getting cut.

As of Thursday, June 11, six players on the roster have announced intentions to transfer to other schools: Josh Latta (UMass Lowell), Tanner Hickey (Arizona State), Liam Izyk (Boston College), Jack Jeffers (Lake Superior State), Max Coyle (Bowling Green), and Bailey Newton (Western Ontario). Latta, the Chargers’ leading scorer last season, announced his intentions to transfer before the program was cut.

The Chargers had announced a six-player incoming freshman class, but all but one, Ayodele Adeniye, changed their commitments to elsewhere. Three of them, Jacob Franczak, Connor Szmul, and Marty Westhaver, switched to the new program at Long Island University.

So far, UAH has received three new commitments, and they are showing tremendous upside (analysis by Asher Kitchings):

Conor Witherspoon, 5’11, 175, Metamora, Mich., Shreveport Mudbugs (NAHL) — The first recruit to commit to the Lance West-led Chargers this past Friday is just the kind of glue-guy we needed in this class. Conor is a well-liked, hard-working guy with a high hockey IQ who does a lot of the little things to help his team succeed. He’s quick to pucks and willing to go to the tough areas of the ice and be disruptive. More of a two-way, play-making forward, he was the second leading scorer on a defensively-strong Mudbugs squad, putting up a 52/5/30/35 slash line in his third full season of junior hockey. Conor will endear himself to the Charger faithful with his honest, all-around game. Conor was originally committed to Division III Norwich.

Tyrone Bronte, 5’10, 165, 1999, Melbourne, Australia, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (NAHL) — The first Aussie for the program was previously committed to arch-rival Bemidji State, but we’ll gladly take him off their hands. Bronte was a teammate of current Charger Adrian Danchenko’s in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and has played all over these past several years. He broke into elite youth hockey in Quebec, and then made stops in Ontario and Michigan before securing a spot in the NAHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the 2017-18 season, where – other than a cup of coffee with Omaha in the USHL – he’s been ever since. A playmaker, Bronte has good hands, solid speed and a quick, accurate release. One of the leading scorers in the NAHL before COVID-19 shut things down, Bronte was putting up more than a point per game with 12 goals, 36 assists and 48 points in 46 games played. West will want him to provide offense early and often next season. I doubt we’ll be disappointed. Look for him to bring the thunder from Down Under, folks!

Brian Scoville, 6’3, 215, 1999, Agawam, Mass., Langley Rivermen (BCHL) — Finally another defenseman to join Ayo Adeniye in this class, Scoville gave his commitment to West and UAH on Wednesday night. Scoville is a big, strong defenseman who was No. 27 on Neutral Zone’s list of the top-50 uncommitted 1999-born prospects. Like Bronte, he’ll have at least one familiar face in the locker room when he arrives in rising sophomore Daneel Lategan, a teammate of Scoville’s in Langley during the 2018-19 season. The western Massachusetts native has been on scouts’ radars for a long time, having been drafted by the vaunted Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL back in 2016 (quite an honor given how few Americans the QMJHL historically drafts) and previously committing to UMass (Amherst) as a freshman in high school. Extremely athletic, Scoville’s game has matured over the years, culminating in arguably his best season to-date in the BCHL with three goals, 21 assists, and 24 points in 53 games played (including playoffs). Along with Adeniye, he’ll bring some much needed size, strength and grit to the blueline next season. From the outset, these guys will be tough to play against. On top of all that, there’s more potential to be unlocked here, and it’ll be up to West and whoever his assistants turn out to be to unlock it.

Original Charger Bill Roberts dies: Bill Roberts, who played on the first UAH hockey club teams from 1979-82, passed away on June 6. He was 61.

Roberts, also known as “Big Bad Bill from Billy Goat Hill,” was the Chargers’ leading scorer in the inaugural 1979-80 season, scoring 70 points on 30 goals and 40 assists in 20 games. He had 88 goals and 138 assist for 226 points in three seasons, helping UAH win its first U.S. national club championship in 1982.

A graveside service will be at 11:00 a.m. Friday, June 12th, at Maple Hill Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Friends of UAH Hockey, c/o Bryant Bank, 320 Pelham Ave., SW, Suite 100, Huntsville AL 35801-5051.

Podcast talk: UAH hockey had a presence on podcasts this week.

Incoming freshman Ayodele Adeniye appeared on the Redvolution Rampage podcast to discuss race in hockey, the barriers for players of color and efforts to help grow the sport.

Charger alumni Cam Talbot, Karlis Zirnis, and Tony Guzzo went on the Running Poles Podcast to discuss how the program was saved.

UAHHockey.com writer Michael Napier appeared on the College Hockey SW Weekly show to talk about the history of the UAH hockey program, where it is now and what’s ahead.

New NCAA overtime rules proposed: Overtime rules are on the way to being simplified across college hockey.

On June 5, the NCAA men’s and women’s ice hockey rules committee proposed that overtime becoming 3-on-3 if a game is tied after 60 minutes.

Currently, all NCAA games go into a five-minute, sudden-death overtime period playing regular 5-on-5, with the result being a tie if no one scores. Most conferences, including the WCHA, have an extra overtime period of 3-on-3 to determine which team gets a extra point in the league standings. The proposal would bypass the 5-on-5 period in all conferences.

Also in the proposal, a three-person shootout could be used in conference games or for in-season tournaments to decide which team advances. Currently in WCHA games, a sudden-death shootout occurs if no one scores in the 3-on-3 overtime.

In regular-season non-conference games, the result of the game would be a tie if neither team scores in the overtime period.