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Bad first period dooms UAH at Lake State

Lake Superior State scored six first-period goals and cruised to a 7-2 win over UAH on Friday in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

The Chargers (4-19-0 overall, 4-11-0 WCHA) could only play better in the second and third periods to get ready for Saturday night’s series finale.

The 18th-ranked Lakers (14-6-1, 9-5-1) won their seventh straight game.

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UAH found themselves in a hole right away when Diego Cuglietta scored just 26 seconds in to put Lake Superior up 1-0. Cuglietta has been red hot for the Lakers with his seventh goal in the last five games.

The Chargers answered with Cam Knight’s shot from the blue line trickling between the pads of Laker goalie Nick Kossoff at 2:16 to tie the game at 1-1. Adam Wilcox got the assist.

But things fell apart quickly when the Lakers got another two goals before the halfway point of the first period.

The Lakers took a 2-1 lead after two straight saves by UAH goalie Jake Theut left an open net for Max Humitz at 4:15. Then Gage Torrel beat Theut from the left side of a 2-on-1 break at 9:22.

After allowing three goals on six shots, Theut was replaced in goal by Mark Sinclair.

It didn’t get any better. Melvin Karlsson made it 4-1 at 12:03. Jacob Nordqvist made it 5-1 at 14:32.

A Steven Ruggiero goal in 4-on-4 play with five seconds left completed an utterly disastrous period for the Chargers. It was the worst period for UAH since also allowing six goals in the third period against Bowling Green on Nov. 19, 2016.

UAH played better in the second period to stop the bleeding, but couldn’t chip into the deficit.

The Chargers continued to play well in the third period and Austin Beaulieu scored a power play goal with 11:57 remaining, his fourth goal in the last three games, to cut LSSU’s lead to 6-2.

Humitz’s second goal of the game put the Lakers up 7-2.

Sinclair finished the game with 27 saves. The Chargers were outshot 37-20.

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Preview: UAH at Lake Superior State

Where: Taffy Abel Arena, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
When: Friday, 6:07 p.m. CST; Saturday, 7:07 p.m. CST
Watch: FloHockey.tv (subscription required)

Charger update: UAH (4-18-0 overall, 4-10-0 WCHA) had an offensive explosion in a split with Ferris State last week at the VBC. UAH scored a season-high five goals on Friday, but lost 6-5 in overtime. The Chargers rallied from two goals down late in the third to win 4-3 in overtime on Saturday.

The Chargers scored nine of their 32 goals this season, or 28 percent, in the series. Head coach Mike Corbett said his team was able to consistently focus and execute on a simple formula: getting pucks and bodies to the net.

“We have to get people willing to go to what we call around here the ‘third circle,’ right in the middle of the offensive zone,” Corbett said. “If you win that third circle on both ends, you’re probably going to win the game, or at least put yourself in position to win the game. We did a good job of getting more pucks and more bodies there, and getting second chances on their goaltender.

“I had to remind them in practice this week to remember how we got there.”

Austin Beaulieu was the star for UAH, scoring three goals and an assist in the series. He had a hand in all three goals that lifted the Chargers to victory, earning him WCHA Forward of the Week honors.

“Austin hasn’t changed a day since he’s been on campus,” Corbett said. “He works his butt off every day. It’s nice to see him get rewarded because he’s been on the cusp of breaking out a little bit. He just comes to work every day and enjoys the game of hockey.”

UAH is in eighth place in the WCHA standings, two points ahead of Ferris State and two points behind Alaska for seventh. Now the Chargers head to Lake Superior State looking to maintain focus, continue getting points, and solidifying their playoff position.

“It’s going to be a really big test for us,” Corbett said. “I like the way we’re playing and I think we’ve got some confidence. We tend to play a little looser and focused on the road. We’ve had a solid week of practice, now we’ve got to use the time on the road to dial in and be mentally prepared.”

UAH 2018-19 statistics

About the Lakers: Lake Superior State (13-6-1 overall, 8-5-1 WCHA) is on a six-game winning streak, with road sweeps of Alaska and Alaska Anchorage sandwiching a Great Lakes Invitational championship where the Lakers beat Michigan State and Michigan Tech. The Lakers are fifth in the WCHA standings and are ranked at No. 18 in the latest USCHO.com poll.

The Lakers, who defeated UAH 4-3 and 2-1 at the VBC on Oct. 26-27, have a potent offense averaging 3.35 goals per game, third in the WCHA and 12th in Division I.

Senior forward Diego Cuglietta has been on fire, scoring six goals in his last four games and 10 in the last eight. He has a total of 15 goals on the season, which leads the WCHA and is second nationally.

Anthony Nellis also has double-digit goals with 11. Both he and Cuglietta have 21 points, tied for fifth in the conference.

“I think everybody in the league knew that their top two lines are very good with (Gage) Torrel, (Brayden) Gelsinger, Nellis, and Cuglietta,” Corbett said. “Their confidence right now is just brimming. I think that’s probably the biggest difference in them” since the Lakers visited Huntsville in October.

Defenseman Lukas Kaelble is tied for second in the WCHA with 15 assists.

Senior Nick Kossoff has been the Lakers’ primary goaltender, posting a 2.29 goals against average and .913 save percentage with a shutout in 13 starts. Sophomore Mareks Mitens (2.45 GAA, .911 SV%) also has a shutout.

Lake Superior State 2018-19 statistics

Series notes:
Overall: LSSU leads 13-7-2.
In Sault Ste. Marie: UAH leads 5-3-2.
Trend: LSSU has won 7 of the last 8 meetings.
Last meeting: Oct. 26-27, 2018 at Huntsville. LSSU won 4-3 and 2-1.

This week in the WCHA: All times are Central. All WCHA home games can be seen on FloHockey.tv.

Friday, January 11
UAH at #18 Lake Superior State, 6:07 p.m.
#8 Minnesota State at Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.
#10 Bowling Green at Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m.
Alaska at Bemidji State, 7:07 p.m.
Northern Michigan at Alaska Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.

Saturday, January 12
UAH at #18 Lake Superior State, 6:07 p.m.
Alaska at Bemidji State, 5:07 p.m.
#8 Minnesota State at Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.
#10 Bowling Green at Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m.
Northern Michigan at Alaska Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.

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Hoof Beats: Beaulieu named WCHA forward of the week

After lifting the Chargers to a Saturday win and scoring four points on the weekend, Austin Beaulieu was named the WCHA Forward of the Week on Monday.

Beaulieu had a hand in all three goals that rallied UAH from being two goals down late in the third to victory in overtime on Saturday.

Beaulieu’s tally with 3:25 remaining in regulation cut FSU’s lead to 3-2. Beaulieu made a critical interception to keep the Chargers onside, and then assisted Brandon Salerno’s game-tying goal with 11 seconds to go. Beaulieu then tipped Cam Knight’s shot to score in overtime for the 4-3 UAH win.

Beaulieu also scored a goal in UAH’s 6-5 overtime loss on Friday.

The junior from Coral Springs, Fla. has four goals and six points on the season.

New commitments: Last Monday, we looked at how UAH’s recruits have been faring in juniors during the first half of the season. Since then, the Chargers got three more commitments.

On Dec. 31, forward William Zapernick announced his commitment to join UAH in 2020. The Edmonton native is currently with the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the AJHL, with 19 goals and 34 points in 36 games this season.

On Wednesday, forward Liam Izyk of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) declared his commitment to UAH. The 20-year-old forward from Strathmore, Alberta is in his third season with the Oil Barons, has five goals and 18 assists for 23 points in 31 games this year. Izyk is expected to arrive in 2019.

On Friday, defenseman Max Coyle of Tillsonsburg, Ontario announced his commitment. In 40 games this season with the Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL), Coyle has 11 points on two goals and nine assists. He is also expected to join UAH next season.

Check out our commitments page for a running list of future Charger recruits.

New announcer coming: UAH hockey will have a new play-by-play voice for the Chargers’ final six home games on FloHockey.tv.

Peyton Turnage will take over calling duties beginning with UAH’s next home game, Jan. 18 against Alaska Anchorage.

Turnage, a member of the Penalty Box Radio crew, has spent the last five years broadcasting junior hockey (Nashville Jr. Predators) and club-level college hockey, primarily Vanderbilt and the SECHC. He resides in Louisville, Ky.

Turnage takes over for Zachary Bryan, another Penalty Box Radio alum who called UAH home games online for the last three years. His final game was Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win. Bryan will be taking a new broadcasting job in Oklahoma.

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UAH rallies to nip Ferris State in OT

The Chargers needed this in so many ways.

UAH scored twice in the final 3:25 of regulation, then Austin Beaulieu’s tip found the back of the net 3:13 into overtime, lifting the Chargers to a 4-3 win over Ferris State at the VBC on Saturday.

The Chargers (4-18-0 overall, 4-10-0 WCHA) regained eighth place in the WCHA standings over the Bulldogs, who took game one by a 6-5 score on Friday, also in overtime.

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UAH finally got a victory at Propst Arena this year, the first in 10 games. And, the Chargers ended on the good side of a one-goal affair, improving to just 2-9 in a tough season of several close calls.

The first period was up-and-down, with Ferris State (6-15-1, 3-10-1) again getting the first goal of the game.

Nate Kallen took a centering pass in the slot from Cooper Zech, and directed the puck past UAH goaltender Jake Theut with 2:43 remaining in the period.

UAH answered right back on the power play following a Jason Tackett roughing penalty. Kurt Gosselin fired a one-timer from the right point to tie the game at 1-1 with 1:37 to go.

It was the first goal of the season for Gosselin, who returned to action Friday after missing over two months with a broken hand. Bauer Neudecker fed Gosselin for his second assist of the year, and Cam Knight got his fourth assist.

Ferris State took a 2-1 lead at 5:02 of the second when Trevor Recktenwald tucked the puck under Theut from the right doorstep.

FSU had its first multi-goal lead of the weekend after starting a 4-on-1 break from its own end. Cooper Zech finished the job for a 3-1 Bulldog lead with 8:43 left in the second.

FSU also won the possession battle in the second period, outshooting the Chargers 14-6.

The Bulldogs kept the Chargers at bay for a chunk of the third period, keeping Theut busy making 13 of his 33 total saves on the night. But they could not do it for all of the third period.

With 3:25 remaining in regulation, Beaulieu scored from the slot after taking a centering pass from Hans Gorowsky to cut the deficit to 3-2.

That gave the Chargers a boost, and they used that energy to put more pressure on FSU goalie Roni Salmenkangas (30 saves).

It eventually paid off. With just 11 seconds to go, Brandon Salerno tied the game from about the same spot, this time Beaulieu providing the feed after Connor James barely tipped the puck from a Ferris State player at the blue line and preventing the puck from leaving the offensive zone.

In overtime, FSU’s Cameron Clarke was called for a hook as Madison Dunn put a shot on net. It was just the third penalty called all game, but it gave the Charges a power play at the most opportune time.

UAH capitalized 25 seconds into the man advantage, as Beaulieu’s stick deflected Cam Knight’s shot from the left point. Beaulieu’s second goal of the game and fourth of the year sent the announced crowd of 1,308 home happy.

The Chargers travel to Lake Superior State next week. They return home in two weeks, hosting Alaska Anchorage.

Three Stars: 
1. Austin Beaulieu, UAH (2 goals, 1 assist, GWG in OT)
2. Brandon Salerno, UAH (game-tying goal with :11 left in regulation)
3. Bauer Neudecker, UAH (2 assists)

Notes: Gosselin now has 17 career goals, tying him with Mike Salekin (2004-07) for fourth place among UAH defensemen in the Division I era. … Charger forward Andrew Dodson had to leave the game after his hand was hit by a puck. The sophomore missed a chunk of last season with an injury. … UAH scored a total of nine goals in the series, the most since scoring 10 at Lake Superior State in Oct. 2015. The nine goals also accounts for 28 percent of the Chargers’ scoring this season.

File photo of Austin Beaulieu by Todd Thompson/RiverCat Photography