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UAH faces Falcons in home-and-home

UAH (3-12-1, 3-7-0 WCHA) vs. Bowling Green (17-8-1, 6-5-1)
WHERE: Wednesday, Slater Family Ice Arena, Bowling Green, Ohio; Sunday, Von Braun Center, Huntsville, Ala.
WHEN: Wednesday, 6:07 p.m.; Sunday, 3:07 p.m.
WATCHFloHockey.tv (subscription)
LISTEN: Penalty Box Radio (Sunday)

UAH has an actual home-and-home series. Only in this strange season could it happen.

The Chargers play Bowling Green this week, with the first game in Ohio on Wednesday night and the second game in Huntsville on Sunday afternoon. Because UAH is not very close to any other NCAA program, having a home-and-home series isn’t practical. Then again, this season, shortened and shaken-up by COVID-19, has been anything but practical.

Wednesday’s game at Bowling Green is the third and final stop on UAH’s long road trip. The Chargers headed to Ohio directly from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where they visited Northern Michigan and Lake Superior last week.

Sunday is likely UAH’s final home game of the season, and the final game at the Von Braun Center for seniors Connor Merkley and Connor Wood.

The Chargers are coming off a series at Lake Superior State that they would like to have back. They held a 1-0 lead in both games, with the Lakers rallying for a 2-1 win on Friday (scoring the game-winning goal with 9.2 seconds left in regulation) and a 4-1 win on Saturday.

Bowling Green is ranked 13th in this week’s USCHO.com poll and 14th in the USA Today/USA Hockey coaches poll. The Falcons had been in a rut in recent weeks, as their 6-2 win on Sunday snapped a five-game winless streak. They come into their final regular-season series in second place in the WCHA standings, nine points behind Minnesota State.

The Falcons have one of the top offenses in the WCHA, led by three senior forwards: Vegas Golden Knights prospect Brandon Kruse (10 goals, 19 assists, 29 points), Cameron Wright (12-14-26), and Connor Ford (12-12-24).

Goaltending has also been strong for Bowling Green. Senior Eric Dop (2.24 goals against, .924 save percentage) has been the No. 1, starting the last four games and 17 overall, but sophomore Zack Rose has been posting good numbers as well (1.86, .914).

Bronte named league’s top rookie again: Tyrone Bronte earned his third WCHA rookie of the week award on Monday.

The freshman from Melbourne, Australia had three points in the Chargers’ four games last week. He scored a goal and an assist at Northern Michigan and had another assist at Lake Superior State.

Bronte’s 13 points leads the Chargers and is second in the WCHA for freshman. He leads the league and is 11th nationally among freshmen in points per game (0.81).

Bemidji series pushed a day: The Chargers’ final regular-season series at Bemidji State next weekend has been moved back a day. The games are now scheduled for Saturday, March 6 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, March 7 at 2 p.m.

The series was originally scheduled for January 15-16, but was postponed to March because of COVID-19 protocols.

This week in the WCHA: All times Central.

Tuesday, February 23
#18 Lake Superior State at #20 Michigan Tech, 1:07 p.m.

Wednesday, February 24
UAH at #13 Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.

Thursday, February 25
#19 Bemidji State at #3 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.

Friday, February 26
#18 Lake Superior State at Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.
Northern Michigan at #20 Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m.

Saturday, February 27
#20 Michigan Tech at Northern Michigan, 5:07 p.m.
#3 Minnesota State at #19 Bemidji State, 6:07 p.m.

Sunday, February 28
#13 Bowling Green at UAH, 3:07 p.m.

Tuesday, March 2
#18 Lake Superior State at #19 Bemidji State, 6:07 p.m.

Wednesday, March 3
#18 Lake Superior State at #19 Bemidji State, 4:07 p.m.

Photo Gallery: UAH vs. Bowling Green, Feb. 24, 2018

Photo Gallery: UAH vs. Bowling Green, Feb. 23, 2018

Photo Gallery: UAH 3, Northern Michigan 4, Feb. 3, 2018

Preview: UAH at #7 Minnesota State

Where: Verizon Wireless Center, Mankato, Minn.
When: Friday, 7:07 p.m.; Saturday, 7:07 p.m. (CST)
Watch: WCHA.tv
Team stats: UAH | Minnesota State

Jordan Uhelski

Jordan Uhelski’s .908 save percentage is 6th in the WCHA. (Photo by Todd Thompson/RiverCat Photography)

Charger update: UAH (6-10-2 overall, 5-5-2 WCHA) got two points after a tie and a loss at Bowling Green last week. The Chargers sit in sixth place in the WCHA standings, one point behind Ferris State and one point ahead of Alaska.

In the first game, Josh Kestner scored twice as the Chargers and Falcons battled to a 3-3 draw. UAH earned its first ever point after tie by winning the shootout. Madison Dunn scored the first goal.

UAH couldn’t muster much offense at all in game two, getting only 12 shots on goal in a 3-1 loss. Tyler Poulsen scored a third-period goal to put the Chargers in striking distance.

Jordan Uhelski stopped 39 of 42 Bowling Green shots to keep UAH in it on Saturday, and made a total of 63 saves on the weekend.

Kestner has 12 goals on the season, tying him for second for the WCHA lead and already matching the high for a Charger in the last 10 years. Ten of those 12 have come in conference play, which tops the conference. His overall 16 points is tied for sixth in the league.

This is the third of six stops for the Chargers in this long road swing. After taking next week off for the Christmas holiday, UAH goes to Bemidji State, Alaska, and Alaska Anchorage back-to-back-to-back.

Charger leaders:
Josh Kestner (Sr., F, 12 goals-4 assists-16 points in 18 games played)
Tyler Poulsen (Jr., F, 4-10-14 in 17 GP)
Brennan Saulnier (Sr., F, 7-4-11 in 18 GP)
Christian Rajic (Fr., F, 7-4-11 in 18 GP)
Kurt Gosselin (Jr., D, 3-5-8 in 18 GP)
Jordan Uhelski (Sr., G, 2.86 goals against average, .908 save percentage in 15 starts)

UAH Tale of the tape Minnesota State
6-10-2 Overall record 11-5-0
5-5-2 WCHA record 9-3-0
3.08 (2nd) Goals/game 4.17 (1st)
3.08 (6th) Goals allowed/game 2.33 (3rd)
15.3 (3rd) Pen. minutes/game 16.8 (1st)
21.3% (3rd) Power play 28.6% (1st)
81.0% (6th) Penalty kill 84.1% (4th)
WCHA rank in parentheses, conference games only

About the Mavericks: Minnesota State (11-5-0 overall, 9-3-0 WCHA) rolled all over the Lakers at Lake Superior State last weekend, winning 5-1 and 7-0. The Mavericks stand in second place of the WCHA, one point behind Bowling Green, but MSU has played two fewer games.

The Mavericks are ranked No. 7 in this week’s USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.

The 12 goals last week boosted the Mavericks’ average in conference games to 4.17, leading the league by over a full goal over the second-place Chargers. Their overall scoring average of 3.75 puts them third in Division I.

Minnesota State has many offensive weapons, a big reason why the Mavericks were picked to win the MacNaughton Cup as the WCHA regular-season champion. Eight players have double-digit points, and ten have at least four goals this season.

Leading them is Zeb Knutson, who has eight goals and 20 points, tied for the top in WCHA overall scoring. C.J. Seuss (formerly Franklin), a Winnipeg Jets prospect, is right behind him with a 18 points (fourth in the WCHA) and a team-leading 14 assists. Freshman Jake Jaremko’s 17 points gives the Mavericks three of the WCHA’s top five overall scorers.

Between the pipes, Connor LeCouvee, a senior transfer who played the last three seasons at Boston University, has a 2.02 goals against average (second in the WCHA) and .912 save percentage (fourth in the WCHA) in nine starts. Junior Jason Pawloski has a 2.47 GAA and .905 save percentage in seven starts.

Players to watch:
Zeb Knutson (Sr., F, 8-12-20 in 16 GP)
C.J. Seuss (Sr., F, 4-14-18 in 16 GP)
Jake Jaremko (Fr., F, 4-13-17 in 16 GP)
Daniel Brickley (Jr., D, 4-10-14 in 16 GP)
Marc Michaelis (So., F, 7-6-13 in 16 GP)
Ian Scheid (So., D, 7-3-10 in 16 GP)

Series notes: The Chargers and Mavericks have played 55 times, the fourth-most among UAH’s opponents. MSU leads the all-time series 29-19-7, including a 17-6-4 mark in Mankato. The Chargers haven’t beaten the Mavericks in the last 22 meetings (0-18-4), with the last UAH victory coming in 2002. Last season, MSU won 2-0 and 3-2 in Huntsville.

This week in the WCHA: All times are Central. Games featuring WCHA teams at home can be seen on WCHA.tv.

Friday, Dec. 15
UAH at #7 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State at Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m.
Ferris State at Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
Alaska Anchorage at Bemidji State, 7:07 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 16
UAH at #7 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State at Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m.
Ferris State at Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
Alaska Anchorage at Bemidji State, 7:07 p.m.