Chargers pause for COVID, NMU series postponed

For the second straight week, the Chargers will not be playing because of the coronavirus.

The team has paused activity for 10 days due to COVID-19 protocols based on guidance from UAH and the University of Alabama system.

The Chargers’ WCHA series against Northern Michigan at the Von Braun Center has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date. Last week, UAH’s trip to Bemidji State was postponed to March 5-6.

UAH’s last game was on January 9, when the Chargers defeated Ferris State 2-0 at the Von Braun Center to finish a WCHA series sweep. The Chargers now hope to resume play at Minnesota State in a non-conference series on January 28 and 29.

“The health and safety of our student athletes and staff members is the top priority and will continue to be as we work our way through this pandemic,” UAH athletics director Dr. Cade Smith said. “We believe this is the best way for us to be able to complete our season and continue to compete as a program. I am grateful for our medical providers and all that they are doing to keep us safe as well as helping us to be able to play and compete.”

Charger junior forward Tyr Thompson said the team is focused on returning to action.

“It’s tough, obviously, not playing games,” Thompson said. “We’re just trying to stay positive out there. We’re really looking forward to getting back and playing again soon whenever that may be.

“With this recent news now that we’ve been shut down and quarantine for 10 days, we have to really abide by that and make sure that we get our cases down and make sure that when we do get back, we’re all healthy and ready to go.”

The long pause comes at a time when UAH (2-5-1 overall, 2-2-0 WCHA) was finding its groove. The Chargers’ sweep of Ferris State was their first two wins of the season. Thompson scored a goal and two assists in the series.

“We’ve gelled together and come together really quickly this year as a team,” Thompson said. “I think that’s something that’s really changed since last year. Communication is a big part of that, and that starts with the top level guys, our coaches (Lance West, Karlis Zirnis, Carmine Guerriero).

“We definitely still have room for improvement, like any team. We still have a higher ceiling and we can keep continuing to grow. It’s good that we’ve had that success and we’ve put some points in the win column, and I think we’ll continue to do that as we get better.”

It’s uncertain when the UAH-Northern Michigan series can be played. The Chargers have a series scheduled for every weekend through the end of the regular season, including the March 5-6 weekend the WCHA set aside for make-up games (taken by the postponed series at Bemidji State). The WCHA playoffs are currently scheduled to begin March 12.

Northern Michigan is also booked every week, except for the open weekend for make-up dates.

UAH now has had four games postponed and one game at Ferris State in December cancelled in this shortened 2020-21 season because of the pandemic.

“Within our group, we’re trying to stay safe, we’re trying to social distance,” Thompson said. “Sometimes it’s hard to do that, but we do try our best, wearing masks and abiding these protocols. At the end of the day, if we follow the protocols, that will end up with us playing games. It starts with taking care of yourself.”