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Hoof Beats: Kestner off to solid start in ECHL

Josh Kestner, who led UAH with a modern Division I-era school-record-tying 24 goals last season, is playing well in his first full pro season with the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL.

The season started a little late for Kestner, who was on injured reserve, but he scored two breakaway goals in his second game back in a 3-2 loss to Brampton on Oct. 27. The Huntsville native scored seven goals in his first eight games with the Growlers. Kestner has seven assists to give him 14 points in 15 games.

Kestner signed a tryout contract with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies after his career at UAH ended in March. He was assigned to Newfoundland during the preseason.

Other former Chargers in the ECHL: Matt Salhany scored twice for Adirondack on Oct. 17 against Newfoundland, but spending time on injured reserve has limited his action to five games this season. He recently returned to the lineup and has already produced a goal and an assist.

Tyler Poulsen started the season on the reserve list for Rapid City. He has an assist in nine games since his return.

Also in the North American minor leagues, Cody Dion (2010-11) has three goals and five assists in 10 games for Roanoke of the SPHL.

in the big leagues, the 2018-19 season has been a struggle for Cam Talbot, who is in his coldest spell of his NHL career. The Oilers netminder has a .873 save percentage in his last six starts, all losses, allowing 23 goals. Edmonton has been playing Mikko Koskinen in goal more over Talbot, who has a 3.29 goals against average and .889 save percentage in 15 starts.

Danchenko signs NLI: The Chargers got their first player in the new signing period on Tuesday when Adrian Danchenko signed his National Letter of Intent.

Danchenko, who announced his commitment to UAH on August 25, is a forward with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights of the NAHL. has 13 points (8 goals, 5 assists) in 18 games this season. The Palm City, Fla., native had 12 goals in 55 regular-season games with the Knights season.

The signing period for all Division I and II sports except football and basketball started on November 14, and will go all the way to August 1, 2019.

Sinclair named WCHA goaltender of the week: UAH goaltender Mark Sinclair was named the WCHA Goaltender of the Week on Nov. 19 for his performance in the Chargers’ 3-1 win at Alaska on Nov. 16. Sinclair stopped 44 of 45 shots, the most saves in Division I that week. It was the first collegiate victory for Sinclair.

Club team update: The UAH club hockey team’s first season back since 1985 is in full swing.

The Chargers (2-5-0) began their first season in October with a two-game series against UAB at the Huntsville IcePlex. The Chargers lost 9-3 in the first game, then the Blazers rallied late to win 6-5 in the second game.

UAH played three games at the Scholar Shootout at Vanderbilt from Nov. 9-11, losing 8-1 to Michigan, winning 3-1 to Clemson, and falling 3-2 to Vanderbilt. In the Chargers’ first victory, Alex Reichle stopped 62 of 63 Clemson shots. The Chargers split a two-game series at Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 16-17, winning 5-2 and losing 6-3.

Alexander McLeod has nine goals in UAH’s last five games.

UAH’s next action is Jan. 11-12 at Auburn. The Chargers host Middle Tennessee State at the IcePlex on Feb. 15-16. The Chargers will play more home games starting next season when they join the Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SECHC).

For more information on the UAH Chargers club hockey team, visit uahclubhockey.com.

Hoof Beats: Updates on Talbot and other Charger pros

Cam Talbot and the Edmonton Oilers finished a disappointing season on Saturday, missing the Stanley Cup playoffs after a run to the Western Conference final a year ago.

The former Charger (2007-10) had a career-low .908 save percentage and a career-high 3.02 goals against average in 67 starts, compiling a 31-31-3 record with one shutout.

Josh Kestner has played three games for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies during his amateur tryout, scoring a power play goal. The playoff-bound Marlies finish the regular season on Sunday.

Tyler Poulsen scored a goal in two games for the ECHL’s Allen Americans, and was able to turn his amateur tryout contract into a pro contract. He is not on the Americans’ postseason roster.

Brennan Saulnier was released from his amateur tryout contract with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators after three games.

Matt Salhany (2013-17) scored a goal and three points in 25 games for the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL.

Cody Dion (2010-11) had 12 goals and 24 points in 38 games for the Peoria Rivermen of the SPHL.

On Tuesday, Graeme Strukoff (2011-15) signed with the Sydney Bears in Australia for the 2018 season.

Chargers in the Pros page

Chargers pick up transfer goaltender: Jake Theut, a goaltender from Northeastern University, will be a graduate transfer to UAH for next season.

Theut was the third goaltender for the Huskies this season, playing in two games. In 2016-17, Theut played in three games, getting a shutout in his only start.

Theut gives UAH three goaltenders this season. Mark Sinclair, who started five games this season, and Josh Astorino will be returning sophomores.

Club hockey returns: A student hockey club is being formed at UAH.

UAH has not had club hockey since 1985, when the original club team, created in 1979 and winners of club national championships in 1982, 1983, and 1984, was elevated to varsity status in preparation for the university to join the NCAA.

It’s not uncommon for schools with NCAA Division I or III varsity hockey programs to also have student club teams, although this would be the first such situation in the Southeast. The team will play other southern club teams in the American College Hockey Association (ACHA).

UAH students interested in playing can email the club at clubhockey@uah.edu. Off-ice memberships are also available.

West a finalist for Alaska job: UAH alum Lance West is a finalist for the head coaching job at Alaska.

West, an assistant with the Nanooks for nine seasons prior, was the interim coach this season after Dallas Ferguson resigned. Alaska was 11-22-3 overall and 9-17-2 in WCHA play, finishing in eighth place.

West played for the Chargers from 1991-95, scoring 113 points in 108 games.

Hoof Beats: Summer news and notes

Some news and notes regarding current and former Chargers this past month:

Saulnier in Canadiens camp: Senior forward Brennan Saulnier spent the first week of July in the Montreal Canadiens development camp. On the third day, Saulnier had a nice assist.

He also mixed it up with a familiar WCHA opponent: Alaska’s Nikolas Koberstein:

Saulnier’s comment:

Guerriero signs with South Carolina: Goaltender Carmine Guerriero will begin his professional hockey career with the South Carolina Stingrays, the ECHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals.

Guerriero played in nine games, starting seven, in his senior season at UAH, posting a 3.77 goals against average and a .872 save percentage. In his Charger career (77 games with 72 starts), he had a .910 save percentage, which was the second highest in UAH’s modern Division I history and fourth all-time. His 3.19 career goals against average was fourth in UAH’s modern Division I history and seventh overall.

Wolitski named Alumnus of Achievement: Former Charger defenseman Sheldon Wolitski was named a UAH’s Alumnus of Achievement. He was to be honored by the UAH Alumni Association on Tuesday, August 1.

Wolitski is the founder and owner of The Select Group, which unites top companies with highly skilled candidates for managed services and contingent staffing and provides specialized IT services. Wolitski, who was on the 1996 NCAA Division II national championship team and is UAH’s all-time leading scorer for defensemen with 113 career points, announced a donation of $500,000 to the program in January.

West named head coach in Fairbanks: UAH alumnus Lance West was promoted to head coach at Alaska after Dallas Ferguson left to lead the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.

West was the assistant coach for the Nanooks for the past nine seasons. Before going to Fairbanks, West was an assistant coach for Doug Ross from 2000-07. Last season, Alaska was 12-20-4 overall and 11-13-4 in the WCHA, finishing 6th in the conference. Alaska went 2-1-1 against the Chargers.

West had 113 points (45 goals and 68 assists) in 108 games for the Chargers from 1991-95.

New commitments: The Chargers got two commitments in July.

Josh Astorino of the Georgetown Raiders is expected to join UAH for this season, giving the Chargers a third goaltender along with senior Jordan Uhelski and newcomer Mark Sinclair. Astorino was the Ontario Junior Hockey League goaltender of the year with a 1.93 goals against average and .936 save percentage.

Hank Sorensen, a defenseman of the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL, will join the Chargers in 2018-19. He had four goals and 14 points in 41 regular-season games for Waterloo last season.

With the signing period ending Aug. 1, a formal release of signees for the 2017-18 season is expected soon.

Hoof Beats: Talbot traded, joins Woodcroft in Edmonton

Cam Talbot

Cam Talbot has been traded to the Edmonton Oilers. (Photo by David Washburn)

Moving from the Big Apple to the City of Champions, Cam Talbot will get his chance to be a No. 1 starter in the NHL.

The former charger goaltender was traded by the New York Rangers to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, during the second round of the NHL Draft. The Rangers, which also sent Edmonton the 209th selection (28th pick of the seventh round), received three picks from the Oilers: No. 57 (second round), No. 79 (third), and No. 184 (seventh).

Talbot played in 36 regular-season games for the Rangers last season, but really showed his worth as New York’s top goaltender while filling in for the injured Henrik Lundqvist in February and March. Talbot posted a 2.21 goals against average and a .926 save percent, both ranking fourth in the NHL. He did not see any playoff action while Lundqvist and the Rangers reached the Eastern Conference final.

The Oilers are rebuilding as the finished with the second-worst record in the Western Conference last season. Talbot should help between the pipes after Edmonton finished last in the NHL with an .888 save percentage and 3.37 goals allowed per game.

Talbot will be reunited with another UAH alumnus in Edmonton. Jay Woodcroft (’00), a member of the 1998 NCAA Division II national champions and who recently was on the San Jose Sharks’ coaching staff, was named an assistant coach with the Oilers on Thursday.

Talbot tweeted about the trade on Sunday:

Briere joining Leafs’ staff: Steve Briere, who was a goaltender for the Chargers from 1997-2000, was named the goaltending coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In 45 games for UAH, Briere posted a 2.81 goals against average, fourth on the Chargers’ all-time list. His .900 save percentage is seventh all-time. Briere was named second-team All-College Hockey America in the 1999-2000 season, and as a backup played 12 games for the 1998 NCAA Division II national champions.

Briere was an assistant on the UAH staff when the Chargers won the 2007 CHA championship. He is the owner and head instructor of Canadian Professional Goalie Schools.

New play-by-play announcer: Zachary Bryan will be the voice of the hockey Chargers on WCHA.tv this coming season.

Bryan was the play-by-play announcer for Vanderbilt’s club team for the last two seasons in coordination with Penalty Box Radio. He is the news director at WAKM-AM radio in Franklin, Tenn.

Danton Cole to coach U.S. juniors: USA Hockey on June 17 announced that former UAH coach Danton Cole is on the coaching staff for the U.S. National Junior Team that will compete in the 2016 World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland. Cole, Chris Chelios, and Kevin Reiter will assist head coach Ron Wilson.

Cole was the Chargers’ head coach from 2007-10, leading UAH to the College Hockey America tournament title and an NCAA tournament berth in 2010. He has been with USA Hockey for five years, leading the U.S. Under-18 Team to gold medals in the U-18 World Championships in 2012 and 2014.