Busy week starts at Northern Michigan

UAH (2-9-1, 2-4-0 WCHA) at Northern Michigan (7-11-0, 5-3-0 WCHA)
WHERE: Berry Events Center, Marquette, Mich.
WHEN: Tuesday, 3:37 p.m.; Wednesday, 6:07 p.m. (subscription)

The Chargers’ stamina will be tested this week.

Not long after a tough series against one of the nation’s top teams, the Chargers head north to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to play four WCHA games in five days.

UAH’s first stop is Northern Michigan for games Tuesday afternoon (a multi-faceted rarity in itself) and Wednesday night. The series was originally scheduled for January 22 and 23 in Huntsville but COVID-19 issues with the Chargers forced a postponement.

With the Chargers already scheduled to play at Lake Superior State this Friday and Saturday and no weekend dates available at the VBC, the WCHA shifted the series to NMU instead.

UAH is coming off a rough weekend at home against No. 3 Minnesota State, losing 4-1 and 5-0. The Chargers played hard, but like most everyone else in the WCHA, are currently no match for the talent and experience of the Mavericks.

The Chargers will try to fare better against a Northern Michigan team that is finding its groove. After a surprising 2-10-0 start, the Wildcats have won five of their last six — all conference games — to shoot up to third place in the WCHA standings.

Last weekend, NMU swept a series at Bemidji State, which was on a roll of its own, by scores of 5-1 and 3-2 in overtime.

The Wildcats have kicked up their offense a notch, scoring 26 goals in their six-game run. The top line of Griffin Loughran (3 goals, 7 points), Joseph Nardi (6 goals, 12 points), and Andre Ghantous (14 points) has been especially lethal in that span, although Loughran missed last week’s series due to injury. AJ Vanderbeck leads the squad with 10 goals, with five coming in the last six games.

The Wildcats’ top goalie, Nolan Kent, has missed the last three games and is out for the rest of the season. In his place has been freshman Rico DiMatteo, the fourth goaltender NMU has played this season, and NMU has won all three.

For the Chargers, top goalie David Fessenden made 29 saves against Minnesota State on Thursday before getting hurt and leaving early in the third period. He did not dress in Friday’s series finale. Derek Krall, who made 31 saves Friday, will likely start if Fessenden can’t go.

It’s been a while since the Chargers have played four games in five days. The last times occurred during their trips to Alaska from 1989-91, where they would play two games in either Anchorage or Fairbanks, take a day off to travel to the other place and then play two more.