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Chargers working to build on success after home wins

The Chargers had a taste of victory at home. They look to keep it going, although now they will have to wait a little.

The Chargers were scheduled to play Bemidji State in Minnesota this weekend, but the series was postponed to March 5-6, presumably for COVID-related reasons. UAH hosts Northern Michigan on January 22 and 23 for its next action.

UAH is on a high after sweeping Ferris State by scores of 5-4 and 2-0 at the Von Braun Center for its first two wins of the season last weekend. It was the Chargers’ first sweep in two years.

“It’s a great feeling for the guys,” UAH associated head coach Karlis Zirnis said of last week’s success. “It was good to see the crowd and the energy in the building. We came out with two wins, getting a little bit of momentum going our way and a little bit of belief in the locker room that sticking through a process and trying to get better every day. It’s a lot easier for the coach to come in and preach that when there’s results.”

Tyrone Bronte had two goals and an assist in the series, earning him WCHA rookie of the week honors for the second time. The freshman leads the Chargers with seven points (three goals and four assists) through eight games.

“He’s got a very good skill set,” Zirnis said. “He’s got speed, he’s got some good puck-handling skills, he’s got a good hockey IQ. What elevates him even more is his competitiveness every day. If it’s his shot, his speed, his faceoffs as a centerman, he’s trying to improve every day. Playing on the first line, he gets a lot of minutes. He carries a lot on power play and carries a lot on the penalty kill, too.”

Dayne Finnson also had three points, including the game-winning goal in Friday’s overtime victory. Finnson was named WCHA defenseman of the week for the second time this season as well.

Another defenseman, Drew Lennon, also had a goal and two assists Friday night for his first three points of the season, underscoring the Chargers’ belief that the blueliners can also contribute to the offense.

“It was great for us to see (Lennon) stepping out,” Zirnis said. “He comes in and works every day but doesn’t say a whole lot. Very mature kid.

“It’s great for us to see our defensemen contribute to our offense. We encourage our defensemen to join the rush. It’s a process that we’ve got to keep teaching and keep preaching every day.”

Goaltender David Fessenden had the biggest impact in Saturday’s win, stopping all 42 shots for this first college shutout.

“Saturday night, we didn’t play very well as a team, but our goalie came out and stood on his head and carried us through the game and found a way to win,” Zirnis said. “The confidence of David Fessenden should be ‘Rocket City high’ as we call it.”

An aspect of UAH’s play that has improved immensely has been the power play. The Chargers are ranked fourth in NCAA Division I at 29.6 percent efficiency through eight games.

“With the power play, you can get complicated, and sometimes when you get more complicated, it gets more confusing for the guys,” Zirnis said. “The units themselves have gelled pretty well, just keeping it really simple. Deliver the puck to the net when it’s there, and if it’s not there, then they make that pass. Don’t overthink it. I always say, in hockey, the simplest play is the most effective play.”

This week in the WCHA: All times Central.

Friday, January 15
#5 Minnesota State at #19 Lake Superior State, 6:07 p.m.
Northern Michigan at #8 Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.*

Saturday, January 16
#5 Minnesota State at #19 Lake Superior State, 4:07 p.m.
Trine at Ferris State, 3:07 p.m.*
Northern Michigan at #8 Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.*

*Non-conference game.

Series at Bemidji State postponed

The Chargers were scheduled to play at Bemidji State on Friday and Saturday. The series has been postponed, presumably for COVID-related reasons.

The series is now scheduled for March 5 and 6 at Bemidji.

UAH (2-5-1, 2-2-0 WCHA) swept Ferris State last weekend at the Von Braun Center for its first two wins of the season. The Chargers’ next action is at home against Northern Michigan on January 22 and 23, with a puck drop of 7:07 p.m. both nights.

UAH release

Finnson, Bronte earn WCHA weekly awards

Each scoring three points in UAH’s sweep of Ferris State over the weekend, Dayne Finnson and Tyrone Bronte each earned WCHA player of the week honors for the second time this season.

Finnson was named WCHA Defenseman of the Week after scoring a goal and two assists. The goal was the overtime game-winner in Friday night’s 5-4 victory. He assited in UAH’s first goal Friday and second goal Saturday. He blocked five shots in the series, four of them in the first game.

Finnson leads all UAH defensemen with five points and is tied for the team lead in blocked shots with 14.

Bronte was named WCHA Rookie of the Week with two goals and an assist. He scored UAH’s first goal Friday and second goal Saturday, both on the power play, and assisted Finnson’s OT winner.

Bronte leads the Chargers in points with seven and is tied with Tyr Thompson with three goals this season.

Finnson and Bronte won the same awards on Nov. 23.

The Chargers head to Bemidji State for games this Friday and Saturday.

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Fessenden, UAH shut out Ferris to finish home sweep

Call him “Big Save Dave.”

UAH goaltender David Fessenden earned his first career shutout, stopping all 42 Ferris State shots in a 2-0 Charger victory at the Von Braun Center on Saturday.

Fessenden’s 42 saves were the second-most in a shutout in UAH history, two shy of now-Michigan Tech goaltender Mark Sinclair’s record of 44 set last season.

The Chargers (2-5-1 overall, 2-2-0 WCHA) completed its first series sweep in two years, and already matched their win total from last season. Combined with Friday’s 5-4 overtime victory, UAH’s had a very successful opening series at Propst Arena.

BOX SCORE

In the crazier stat department, UAH posted its first shutout at the VBC since October 25, 2003, when Adam MacLean and Scott Munroe combined to blank Connecticut 6-0.

It certainly wasn’t easy, as Ferris State (0-8-0 overall, 0-4-0 WCHA) used six power plays to pepper the Charger net. But the Bulldogs could not convert on any of them, as UAH’s penalty kill was a perfect 11-for-11 on the weekend.

Early penalties to Tyrone Bronte and Ayodele Adeniye put the Chargers in a bind. The closest call was when Jake Willets had the puck all alone in the slot but was denied with Fessenden’s pad.

Ferris State had three power plays in the first period alone, allowing the Bulldogs a lot of time in the UAH end, even though the Chargers had two power plays of their own. FSU had 19 shot attempts to UAH’s seven, and had a 10-3 advantage in shots on goal.

The second period was a bit more even in terms of offensive possession, with Ferris State only outshooting UAH 13-10. However, the Chargers were the ones who finally capitalized with two late goals.

With 2:56 remaining and on a delayed penalty, Connor Merkley took a Tyr Thompson pass at the blue line and drove up the middle, beating Logan Stein with the backhand for his first goal of the season. Bahn also got an assist, his fourth, to tie for the team lead.

On the ensuing power play, Tyrone Bronte put the Chargers up 2-0 with 1:33 to go. The third goal of the season for the Australian freshman was assisted by Dayne Finnson and Mick Heneghan.

In the third period, it was again all about the big sophomore from Parker, Colorado.

Around the halfway point, Fessenden made a nifty sliding save on Coale Norris on a 2-on-1 break. With just over five minutes to go, Fessenden’s stick denied Ethan Stewart on another point-blank opportunity.

The Bulldogs only had one power play in the final frame, but still managed 19 shots on goal to UAH’s five. They had 28 attempts to UAH’s nine.

Fessenden’s final five saves came in the final 20 seconds, as Ferris State had pulled Stein for the extra attacker and UAH was forced to ice the puck twice in the final minute.

The Chargers’ next action is next weekend at Bemidji State. They return to the VBC on January 22-23 against Northern Michigan.

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Chargers snag OT win in long-awaited home opener

The Chargers were back at the Von Braun Center for the first time in 10 months, although it has seemed like eons. They wanted to treat the fans who supported them when a future did not seem possible.

And treat them they did in thrilling fashion. Ben Allen scored with 2.4 seconds remaining in regulation to tie, and Dayne Finnson blasted the game-winning goal in a 5-4 UAH overtime win over Ferris State on Friday night.

A socially-distanced crowd of 1,124 erupted as the Chargers (1-5-1 overall, 1-2-0 WCHA) clinched their first victory in seven games this year and the first under head coach Lance West. UAH snapped a 14-game winless streak going back to last season.

BOX SCORE

UAH will be going for the series sweep Saturday night at 7 p.m.

The Chargers threw just about everything they could at Ferris State freshman goaltender Logan Stein, who was making his season debut after finishing the world junior championship with a gold medal as Team USA’s backup. UAH had 45 shots on goal, the most in a game since 2015.

The game was a constant back-and-forth, testing both Stein and UAH goalie David Fessenden, who stopped 26 of 30 FSU shots.

UAH started with a strong power play, but it was Ferris State (0-7-0, 0-3-0) that scored the first goal. Antonio Venuto poked the puck through Fessenden’s left side at the 4:32 mark.

UAH answered with another power play, and this one was successful. Tyrone Bronte from the slot deflected Finnson’s pass from the left point over Stein’s glove to tie the game at 1-1 with 7:03 remaining in the first.

Tyrone Bronte, right, celebrates with Lucas Bahn after scoring UAH’s first goal. (Photo by Chuck Edgeworth/UAH Athletics)

The Chargers took a 2-1 lead at 5:31 of the second period. Tyr Thompson’s blast from the right side rebounded off Stein to Drew Lennon in the left circle, and Lennon drove the puck home.

Ferris State tied the game back up at 2-2 around halfway through the contest on Coale Norris’s putback from the slot.

UAH survived a scare in the second half of the second period after getting back-to-back slashing penalties. But the Chargers and Fessenden’s three crucial saves kept the game even through two.

The Chargers had a big chance to pull ahead with a two-man advantage with about 12 minutes to go in regulation. Allen had a prime chance point blank denied by Stein and a Lennon blast hit the crossbar, but UAH came up empty.

The Bulldogs took a 3-2 lead not long after on a Mitch Deelstra goal, beginning a stirring stretch of goals in the final 7:30 of regulation.

UAH re-tied the game with 4:22 in regulation with its second power-play goal. Tyr Thompson’s wrister from the left circle resulted in his team-leading third goal of the season, giving Mick Heneghan his first career point with the primary assist.

Ferris State answered under two minutes later on a Justin Michaelian goal, and it appeared the Chargers might be destined for their fourth one-goal loss of the season.

Not so fast, said UAH. With Fessenden pulled with the extra attacker and time winding down, the Chargers mounted one final rush. Lennon sent the puck up to Quinn Green just before the blue line, who fed it to Allen, who wristed the puck past Stein with 2.4 seconds remaining to tie the game at 4-4.

The officials confirmed the goal after checking video replay to make sure the Chargers were onside after Green took the puck.

UAH got the overtime game-winner with its third power-play goal. The Bulldogs were called for too many men on the ice, giving the Chargers a 4-on-3 advantage. Finnson’s one-timer in the right circle on a feed from Bauer Neudecker beat Stein glove side with 2:30 left in the 3-on-3 period.

While the Chargers were 3-for-6 on the power play, they killed all five of Ferris State’s advantages.