UAHHockey.com Staff

Sep 262017
 

by Asher Kitchings

With junior hockey seasons set to begin, here’s a rundown on UAH’s current commitments:

Aidan FlynnAidan Flynn (6’0″, 155 lbs., forward from Spring Hill, TN): Flynn, born in 2002, is one of, if not the, youngest commit to UAH ever. He led his TPH Thunder U14 AAA team last season with 67 points in 57 games, and was the sole skater from that team to be selected for TPH’s U16 squad this year. At only 15 years of age, he’s already on NTDP, USHL, and OHL scouts’ radars. His combination of size, skating ability, and two-way play gives him a projectable upside that few in his age group possess. If he has a strong season, an invite to the vaunted NTDP Final 40 Camp is not out of the question. For those of you that don’t know, the United States NTDP (National Team Development Program) is the country’s premier training ground for elite U.S. hockey players at the U-17 and U-18 levels. The two teams are based out of Plymouth, Michigan, and play a schedule that includes USHL teams, NCAA Division I teams, and international competition. Its alumni include NHL superstars like Patrick Kane, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Seth Jones, James van Riemsdyk, etc. UAH has never had a recruit who played for the NTDP. A commitment from a player of Flynn’s caliber and youth is a very positive signal for the program’s future.

Bauer Neudecker (5’8″, 194 lbs., forward from St. Louis Park, MN): With one of the best names in all of hockey, the 2016-2017 Mr. Hockey finalist for the State of Minnesota recently cracked the 30-man roster for the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. His speed, versatility, and playmaking abilities will give him a great chance to stick with a squad that is perennial contender in the U.S.’s top junior circuit. I expect him to compete for a top-six role given the numbers he put up last season with his high school team (35 games/39 goals/34 assists/73 pts.) and with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in the NAHL after his high school season ended (11/5/4/9). In the event he’s cut from Dubuque when they trim their roster to the league-mandated 23 (doubtful), he’ll probably head back to Fairbanks where he’ll be counted on to be one of the team’s top point producers. Regardless of where he ends up this season, his ability to pile up points will determine whether he heads to Huntsville in 2018-19 or 2019-20.

Hank Sorenson (6’1″, 190 lbs., defenseman from Plymouth, MN): The gritty, hard-nosed defenseman will be back with the Waterloo Blackhawks in the USHL this season. He’s the top returning rearguard for legendary Waterloo coach P.K. O’Handley after putting up a solid 41/4/10/14 slash line for him last season. He’ll undoubtedly be relied upon to play top-four minutes. From everything I’ve seen, he appears to be a lock in the 2018-2019 freshmen class. If he continues to develop, UAH may have to fend off other programs for his signature. Sorensen is one to watch closely throughout the season.

Tyr Thompson (6’0″, 185 lbs., forward from Sherwood Park, Alberta): Tyr, the son of one of the top up-and-coming coaches in North America, Rocky Thompson, was just traded from the team he played for the past two seasons, the Olds Grizzlys, to the Whitecourt Wolverines (both of the AJHL). He’ll be one of Whitecourt’s top forwards having played at an almost point-per-game pace last season. Like Neudecker, he’s a versatile playmaker that can be used in a variety roles up and down the lineup. I believe Tyr will be on campus for the 2018-2019 season barring something crazy happening.

Joey Baez (5’8″, 165 lbs., forward from Tampa, FL): The second-youngest of all UAH commits, Baez will be making the jump to junior hockey this year with the Johnstown Tomahawks in the NAHL. After tearing it up for one of the top youth programs in the country, the York Skipjacks, this season will be an important one for Baez’s development. He’s a speedster who can score, and that’s what he’ll be expected to do at the next level. A solid season with Johnstown could see the Florida native get drafted by a USHL team to play at a higher level in 2018-2019. Even though he’s not expected to be a Charger until 2019-20 at the earliest, he could be the most electrifying player currently committed when it is all said and done.

Peyton Francis (5’11″, 165 lbs., forward from Oakville, Ontario): Another forward in the Carleton Place-to-UAH pipeline, Francis will look to follow in the footsteps of former Carleton Place and current Charger forwards Jordan Larsen, Andrew Dodson, and Connor Merkley. Francis, a 1999-birthdate, was an affiliate player for Carleton Place last year, but should compete for top-six minutes this season. He’s in a situation similar to Baez’s in that he’s not expected on campus for a couple more years. Nonetheless, I feel like he’ll another guy that could develop into another solid recruit for Coach Corbett and his staff.

Ryland Mosley (5’10”, 180 lbs., forward from Arnprior Ontario): Another young recruit (2000 birth year), Mosley is the most recent forward from the CPC to commit to UAH. This past summer, Mosley was drafted third overall by the North Bay Battalion in the OHL’s inaugural Midget Draft, which was put in place to allow OHL teams to draft the best Ontario-born midget players that were not selected in its annual Priority Selection (featuring U15 players) the year before. Mosley is skilled forward with good speed and creativity who amassed 56 points in 45 games at the Ottawa region’s highest level of youth hockey competition last year. He’s currently tearing it up for CPC’s second-tier team, and may find himself on the roster full-time later this season. In any event, he’ll have a few more years to develop before he comes on campus, and it won’t be a surprise to see him come south of the border to play more competitive hockey in the meantime.

Be on the lookout for commitments to the 2018-2019 freshmen class. We’ll lose forwards Max McHugh, Josh Kestner, and Brennan Saulnier; defensemen Brandon Parker, Cody Champagne, and Richard Buri; and probably goaltender Jordan Uhelski. And with only one forward (Thompson) and one defensemen (Sorensen) definitely coming in, there could be a number of new commits here soon.

Dec 032016
 

Kurt Gosselin scored UAH’s first hat trick in nearly nine years, boosting the Chargers to a 5-3 victory over Ferris State at the Von Braun Center on Friday night.

Gosselin put up the Chargers’ three-goal game for the first time since Cale Tanaka did it against Robert Morris on Feb. 1, 2008. It was UAH’s fourth hat trick by a defenseman, the first since Shane Stewart against Babson on Jan. 2, 1999.

BOX SCORE

Gosselin moved into the team lead in goals with seven. He extended his point-scoring streak to seven games, posting 10 points in that stretch (six goals, four assists).

“I’m just thankful I got the forwards and good D partner to help me out,” Gosselin said. “When the puck comes up to the point where our job is to get it on net and find guys, and being able to produce for the team was a big deal. I’m really glad we got the W tonight.”

UAH (5-10-2 overall, 5-6-1 WCHA) ended a four-game winless streak, and posting its first home win of the season. It was also the Chargers’ third straight win over Ferris State (5-10-1 overall, 4-6-1 WCHA), whom UAH swept at the start of the season.

A critical error put UAH behind early, despite the Chargers being on a power play. Andrew Mayer stole the puck from Jetlan Houcher at center ice, and beat Jordan Uhelski on a breakaway for a 1-0 Ferris State lead 3:36 into the contest.

The Chargers had another sloppy power play, but managed to tie the game at 8:03 on a goal by Kurt Gosselin from the left wing circle. Hans Gorowsky and Max McHugh got the assists, breaking a four-game scoreless streak for McHugh.

Gosselin struck again from about the same spot just 1:54 later, giving UAH a 2-1 lead. Cam Knight and McHugh got the helpers.

For the Chargers, it was the eighth straight game holding a lead, but holding on to win has been an issue. UAH was 2-4-1 in its previous seven.

“We had been there before,” UAH head coach Mike Corbett said. “It’s finally time for our guys to bow their neck back and say we’re going to take a stand, and they did. It was great to see.”

Halfway through the game, that lead was gone. An FSU shot hit the right post and sat in the crease, and despite contact with Uhelski as he tried to cover, Trevor Recktenwald found the puck and the net to tie the game at 2-2.

The Bulldogs retook the lead at 3-2 with 44 seconds left in the second period, converting a power play chance from Sean Rappleyea’s tripping penalty. Jason Tackett had an open net after a cross-ice pass from Jared VanWormer on a tic-tac-toe play.

Then UAH rallied again in the third period, equalizing the game and then taking the lead on a 4-on-4 situation. Gosselin got the hat trick with a goal from the center point at 3:39, assisted again by from Cam Knight and McHugh.

“Kurt is one of those guys who finds holes,” Corbett said. “I think all of three of those shots were in the upper third of the net. He’s one of those guys we want shooting the puck.”

Then at 5:22, the Chargers took their second lead at 4-3. Hans Gorowsky scored his fourth goal of the season, assisted by a nifty centering pass by Matt Salhany.

“That sequence of 4-on-4 for two minutes was probably as good a sequence we’ve had all year.”

This time, UAH finished the job. Knight finished off the 5-3 victory with an empty-net goal, down the middle from the UAH zone.

“I think the biggest thing is that we put in the work during the week and the results showed,” McHugh said. “In the game tonight, we didn’t get tired, we came through at the end, and we ended up being resilient like coach said, and we got the win.

“If we play the way we play against any team we should have the same result. For some reason we play against Ferris like that, but I think it’s a good starting point again.”

Uhelski stopped 29 of 32 shots for the victory, making key saves down the stretch. UAH outshot FSU 33-32 for the game.

Game two of the series is Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.

Three stars of the game: 

  1. Kurt Gosselin, UAH (hat trick)
  2. Max McHugh, UAH (3 assists)
  3. Cam Knight, UAH (1 goal, 2 assists)

NOTES: UAH hat tricks by defensemen, varsity: Steve Kasprzak (1987), Don Burke (1992), Shane Stewart (1999), Kurt Gosselin (2016). … UAH was 0-for-5 on the power play, while Ferris State was 1-for-2. … It’s the first time UAH has had three or more wins in a season against one opponent since joining the WCHA.

Oct 082014
 

Last season — let’s not talk about last season any more. We all know how it went.

The new season is here. It starts Friday with the first of two games at Colorado College, followed by the home opening series against Bowling Green on Oct. 17-18.

Here’s what to look for with the 2014-15 UAH Chargers:

Forwards

Jack Prince led the Chargers with eight goals last season. Photo Credit: Timothy Burns

Jack Prince led the Chargers with eight goals last season. Photo Credit: Timothy Burns

The top three scorers for UAH last season were two sophomores and a freshman. Their continued growth will be a factor in whether the Chargers will start lighting the lamp with more frequency.

Jack Prince was the team’s leading scorer in his second season, scoring eight goals and 13 points. Matt Salhany notched five goals and seven assists in his first campaign, exhibiting the speed and puck-swiping techniques that were the origin of the term “Stealhany”. Chad Brears tallied six goals as a sophomore, three on the power play.

From the upperclassmen, Jeff Vanderlugt hopes to rebound in his senior season after scoring five goals in an injury-shortened 22 games. Captain Doug Reid and Craig Pierce are the other two senior forwards.

Three other sophomores return after pitching in a couple of goals as freshmen last season: Regan Soquila, Brent Fletcher, and Cody Marooney. Marooney played in all 38 games for the Chargers last season, setting a school record.

While the returnees look to their year of WCHA experience to improve, an intriguing crop of incoming forwards look to make their mark on the program early.

UAH has four freshman forwards trying to inject some energy into the offense. Max McHugh is one of SBN College Hockey’s freshmen to watch in the WCHA, coming off of a 21-goal campaign with Dubuque of the USHL last season. Continuing a focus on adding speed to the lineup, Brennan Saulnier joins the Chargers after a 49-point season with Fort McMurray in Alberta. Josh Kestner, after scoring 41 goals with Sarnia of the GOJHL, reminds Mike Corbett some of another Huntsville native, Nic Dowd.

“It was funny watching those two guys (Kestner and Dowd) skate together this summer,” Corbett said at last week’s WCHA coaches’ media teleconference. “Hopefully he can become somewhat of the player Nicky Dowd has become as a college player. [McHugh, Kestner, and Saulnier] are three guys we want to throw into the fire.”

Where will the scoring come from?  First, the Chargers have to see if Fletcher and Salhany can keep their groove going, or if 22 is better suited to be on McHugh’s wing.  Second, Brears and Soquila need to see if they can find the chemistry that seemed promising from their junior careers.  Third, Vanderlugt needs to be healthy, and he and Prince probably need to be on opposite lines from a speed perspective.  Finally, we have to see if Kestner can make the huge leap and live up to Corbs’s hype.

Defensemen

Ben Reinhardt is one of two seniors on the blue line. (Credit: Todd Pavlack, BGSUHockey.com)

Ben Reinhardt is one of two seniors on the blue line. (Credit: Todd Pavlack, BGSUHockey.com)

Graeme Strukoff and Ben Reinhardt are UAH’s two senior defensemen, both blocking more than 70 shots last season. Anderson White and Frank Misuraca, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime at Bowling Green, are the juniors. Sophomore Brandon Carlson was second on the team in blocks with 75 in his rookie year.

Corbett brought in some size with Richard Buri, a 6-5, 215-pounder from Slovakia. He and goaltender Matt Larose are the first Chargers to be listed at 6-5 since Steve Borko in the 1995-96 season.

Speed was also brought to the blue line with Cody Champagne, who comes from Topeka of the NAHL to boost the power play. Brandon Parker, from Brookings of the NAHL, will also be key in improving the Chargers’ special teams.

The key on defense is to be getting the puck out after the blocked shots.  The Chargers really struggled in transition last season, and the only thing that will help the blocks and GAA numbers will be for the ice to not be so tilted towards the UAH end.  Corbett was very high on White going into last season, and the Chargers could use a re-emergence from him.

Goaltenders

Matt Larose, Carmine Guerriero

UAH goalies Matt Larose and Carmine Guerriero (photos by Chris Brightwell)

Matt Larose and Carmine Guerriero were the MVPs of last season’s squad, and with good reason. Both received about equal playing time in their freshman season. If there’s a true No. 1 job to be hand, who will grab it?

Larose (4.72 goals against average, .888 save percentage) had the greater share of rough outings, but started to come on at the end, stopping 40 of 41 shots in the late-season road win at Bemidji State.

Guerriero (3.90, .905) showed more consistency throughout last season, and set a UAH Division I-era record with 61 saves at Minnesota State.

Jordan Uhelski, a 6-1 netminder coming to UAH from Muskegon of the USHL, will be pushing for playing time and provide added depth.

“There’s no better place to start building your program than in net,” Corbett said. “We have two sophomores in net who will continue to battle for a No. 1 position, but we believe we have a 1A and a 1B.”

In the end, the likely winner of the goaltending battle among 30 and 35 will be who put in the work this summer to get in better physical shape.  We’ve never met a freshman goaltender (or a coach of one) who didn’t talk about the need to get stronger and have more stamina even halfway into their freshman campaign.

Schedule

The Chargers will play a 36-game schedule, with 14 at home plus two exhibition matches against the USA Under-18 development team.

The WCHA slate will be book-ended with series against travel partner Bowling Green. Among the expected top contenders, UAH will play home and home with Ferris State and will travel to Minnesota State. This season, the Chargers will travel to Alaska once, at Fairbanks in December. Only two games will be played against Bemidji State, in Minnesota in January.

Non-conference play includes two series at NCHC foes — the season opener at Colorado College, which finished seventh out of eight teams and is predicted to finish last, and at Nebraska-Omaha, which finished third. The Chargers visit WCHA mate Northern Michigan in a non-conference series to complete a contract signed before UAH joined the league. UAH also visits former CHA foe Air Force, where Corbett coached as an assistant for a decade before coming to Huntsville.

“[The WCHA] is a fast league,” Corbett said. “It’s a high, competitive league, and every game is entertaining and up and down. We believe our biggest key to be able to compete was to pick up a step, and we feel we’ve picked up a step, and those freshmen will definitely help as well as our other guys getting a year bigger, a year stronger, and a year more experienced in this league.”

We’ve got UAH pegged for somewhere between five and eight wins and a tenth-place finish in the WCHA.  This season will be about bringing in the next wave, consolidating our gains, and relying on senior leadership — and boy do we have some leaders in Reider, Reino, Pierce, Struky, and Vandy — to set the tone of where this program needs to be going forward.  This will be another season of watching the playoffs from the outside, but it’s pretty clear to us that you’ll see the development that we need to see to reward our belief in #TheHerd.

Nov 012013
 

Another Friday night, another slow start, another deep hole the Chargers can’t afford to dig.

Ferris State, one of the favorites to challenge Minnesota State atop the WCHA this season, scored four first-period goals en route to a 5-0 win over UAH at the Von Braun Center on Friday night.

It’s the third straight Friday that UAH was blown out in the first game of the series. In the first two series, the Chargers played better the second night and were competitive, and they look to do the same in the rematch Saturday night at 7:07.

But in game one, it was decided early. Dominic Panetta got the Bulldogs on the board with a goal at 1:40.

After that, it appeared the Chargers would not let things snowball this time as they put pressure and shots on goal on Ferris goaltender C.J. Motte, who made 21 saves in his shutout.

Then the penalties came, Ferris State made the most of just about every opportunity.

Anderson White was called for tripping at 13:04. Thirty-six seconds later, Garrett Thompson puts in a rebound on the right side and the Bulldogs lead 2-0.

Jeff Vanderlugt went off for slashing at 15:42. UAH technically killed the penalty, but Kelly Babinski on a breakout scored five seconds after it expired. 3-0 Bulldogs.

Brandon Carlson was sent off for roughing at 18:12. Kyle Schempp converts to make it 4-0 with 20 seconds left in the first period.

For the game, Ferris State scored three power play goals on five opportunities. Meanwhile, UAH went 0-for-2 as it suffered its second straight shutout.

The second period was more even — each team got eight shots on goal — but Scott Czarnowczan tallied the lone goal of the frame for the final 5-0 score.

Ferris State outshot UAH 37-21. Guerriero made 32 saves.

Saturday night, the first 500 fans receive a UAH Chargers puck courtesy of SportsMed. — Michael Napier

Are you frustrated yet?  Sure.  I can guarantee you that the players are more frustrated.  This is a young, young team.  Combine that with a new head coach and a new assistant coach and things are just plain different.  What I saw tonight was a lot of hard effort that wasn’t always coherent.  Coherence will come with time and trust, and I’m quite sure that the Chargers will have that taken care of soon enough.

Penalties killed the chances for a win tonight.  Three power play goals and a fourth goal that came six seconds after a penalty expired made all the difference in the world.  If this is a slow-down game where the guys aren’t taking as many penalties, maybe things are different.  That said, the boys haven’t had their 5-on-5 breakthrough just yet.

Some have said that Carmine Guerriero is the clear #1 goalie based on his first two efforts.  While the above paragraph goes to explain why he perhaps wasn’t to blame for tonight’s loss, I think that the greater story there is that Matt Larose is better than some people have given him credit for being.  I expect that we’ll see Larose in net tomorrow, and I think that he will benefit if the trend line continues for bad-Friday, good-Saturday.

Rome was not built in a day.  — Geof Morris

Oct 262013
 

Much like the Northeastern series two weeks ago, the Chargers turned a blowout in the first game into a tough, one-goal loss in the second.

Carmine Guerriero had another solid start between the pipes, but Bemidji State’s Andrew Walsh made all the saves as the Beavers beat UAH 1-0 on Saturday.

The first period had a lot of back-and-forth, but few scoring opportunities. BSU did take the lead at 9:38 on a tally by Cory Ward, assisted by Danny Mattson and Brendan Harms.

After that was a spike of penalties. Graeme Strukoff went off for holding at 10:42 to give Bemidji State its first power play, followed by two sets of coincidental holding minors.  UAH was able to kill the penalty.

UAH’s best scoring chance of the first was a centering pass from Chad Brears to Craig Pierce, but Pierce couldn’t control the pass in front of Walsh with 2:17 to go.

Not many pucks were put on net in the first two periods. Bemidji State held a 15-7 shots advantage.

The Chargers had a great chance to even the score thanks to two late-period Bemidji State penalties in the second. First was a high-sticking penalty on Ruslan Pedan at 18:24, followed by too many men on the ice at 19:25.

The Beavers would withstand the power plays, and would attack the UAH net to give Carmine Guerriero a couple of tough saves.

UAH stepped up the pressure in the final five minutes, but couldn’t tally the equalizer. Joakim Broberg was alone in front of the Bemidji net, but his decision to pass to Doug Reid on the doorstep went wide. Jeff Vanderlugt passed to Brandon Clowes, who’s chance went through Walsh’s leg and wide.

The Chargers pulled Guerriero for the extra attacker for the final 1:30, but Walsh stood up to the challenge to earn the shutout.

Bemidji State outshot UAH 24-13. Both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play.

UAH returns to action on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 2 and 3, against Ferris State at the Von Braun Center. Puck drop is 7:07 both nights. — Michael Napier

It was a tough night for anyone looking to score.  There were sticks and shin guards in the way, and so many shots went wide.  I’m happy with what I saw from the boys in terms of controlling the slot defensively and winning puck battles, but we had a lot of offensive execution problems, from cross-ice passes either being two feet ahead or two feet behind in the neutral zone, or someone not being ready to receive a pass in the slot.  Those things come with time, especially with everyone adjusting to a new system and 11 guys adjusting to the pace of the college level.  Guerriero made all the saves he needed to make.  We’ll see better efforts down the line.  — Geof Morris