UAH returns to Lake State for WCHA quarterfinals

UAH (3-16-1) vs. Lake Superior State (15-6-3)
WCHA Quarterfinals (best-of-3)
WHERE: Taffy Abel Arena, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
WHEN: Game 1, Friday, 6:07 p.m.; Game 2, Saturday, 4:07 p.m.; Game 3 (if necessary), Sunday, 4:07 p.m.
WATCH: (subscription)
TEAM STATS: UAH | Lake Superior State

The Chargers have seen a lot of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan this season.

In early December, they played Lake Superior State there in a non-conference series. Last month, UAH went back for a WCHA series with the Lakers.

This weekend, the Chargers head to the Soo for a third time this season, this time for the postseason. UAH and Lake State face off in the best-of-3 WCHA quarterfinals starting Friday night.

If the series goes three, the Chargers will have played as many games at Taffy Abel Arena as they have at Von Braun Center this season (seven).

UAH comes in as the seventh seed with a seven-game losing streak. The Lakers shot up the standings to snag the second seed by winning nine of their last 12 games and getting at least one point in 11 of their last 12.

The Chargers have played the Lakers tough, though, despite an 0-3-1 head-to-head record, all at Lake State.

The first matchup on December 5 saw UAH rally with goals from Adrian Danchenko and Tyrone Bronte to force a 2-2 draw. The Charger fell behind 2-0 again the next day, but scores from Brian Scoville and Frank Vitucci were not enough in a 3-2 loss.

To open the conference series in February, Bennett Stockdale put UAH up 1-0 in the second period, but the Lakers scored twice in the third, including the game-winner with nine seconds left, steal a victory. Quinn Green gave the Chargers the early lead in the second game, but Lake Superior scored four unanswered goals for the sweep.

In all four games, neither team had a solid shots on goal advantage except for the third game, in which LSSU outshot UAH 28-10 but needed that last-minute goal to win.

So an upset is not out of the question, but the Chargers, who have been shut out in three of their last four games, will have to get out of their scoring slump against one of the best goaltenders in the country. Mareks Mitens ranks eighth in Division I in goals against average (1.86) and sixth in save percentage (.934). UAH scored three goals against Mitens in his two complete games between the pipes.

Bronte continues to lead the Chargers in scoring as a freshman with 13 points, and he was named to the WCHA all-rookie team on Wednesday. He leads the conference among freshmen in points per game (0.65).

UAH will need yet another strong goaltending performance of its own. David Fessenden still has solid numbers with a .920 save percentage and 2.62 goals against in 14 starts. He stopped 31 of 33 shots in his last outing at Bemidji State on Saturday.

Lake Superior State’s offense is about average among WCHA teams, scoring 2.7 goals per game, but the Lakers have some dangerous strikers. Juniors Ashton Calder and Pete Veillete lead the team with 12 and 11 goals, respectively. Calder has a goal and Veillete has three assists against UAH this season.

The winners of the four quarterfinal series will meet next weekend at the rink of the highest remining seed for single-elimination semifinals and the WCHA championship game.

WCHA quarterfinal series. All times Central.

#7 UAH at #2 Lake Superior State
Game 1: Friday, 6:07 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, 4:07 p.m.
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, 4:07 p.m.

#8 Ferris State at #1 Minnesota State
Game 1: Friday, 6:07 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, 4:07 p.m.
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, 4:07 p.m.

#6 Northern Michigan at #3 Bowling Green
Game 1: Friday, 6:07 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, 6:07 p.m.
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, 4:07 p.m.

#5 Michigan Tech at #4 Bemidji State
Game 1: Friday, 7:07 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, 6:07 p.m.
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, 5:07 p.m.