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.

Kestner makes Second Team All-WCHA

Josh Kestner

Josh Kestner (Photo by Todd Thompson/RiverCat Photography)

Josh Kestner was named to the All-WCHA Second Team on Thursday, becoming the first Charger to reach that high in all-league honors.

Kestner tied the UAH modern Division I era record with 24 goals this season. The senior’s 32 points were the most by a Charger since the 2006-07 season. Kestner tied for the WCHA lead with 19 goals in conference play, while scoring a league-best nine goals on the power play.

Kestner finished his UAH career with 44 goals, sixth most in the modern Division I era.

It marks the second straight year a Charger made the all-WCHA teams. Kurt Gosselin became the first with third team honors last season, and Max McHugh made the all-rookie team for 2014-15.

Kestner signed an amateur tryout contract with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, the Maple Leafs’ top affiliate.

In addition, 15 UAH players made the 2017-18 WCHA All-Academic Team. These Chargers have a grade-point average of at least 3.0 for the previous two semesters, or an overall GPA of at least 3.0 for all terms:

Austin Beaulieu (So., F, Coral Springs, Fla.); Richard Buri (Sr., D, Nitra, Slovakia); Cody Champagne (Sr., D, Brookfield, Conn.); Hans Gorowsky (Jr., F, Lino Lakes, Minn.); Kurt Gosselin (Jr., D, Brighton, Mich.); Connor James (So., D, Wainwright, Alberta); Josh Kestner (Sr., F, Huntsville, Ala.); Cam Knight (Jr., D, North Reading, Mass.); Max McHugh (Sr., F, Seattle, Wash.); Brandon Parker (Sr., D, Fairbault, Minn.); Sean Rappleyea (So., D, Sayreville, NJ); Teddy Rotenberger (Fr., D, Huntsville, Ala.); Brandon Salerno (So., F, Toronto, Ontario); John Teets (Jr., D, Fairbanks, Alaska); Jordan Uhleski (Sr., G, Flint, Mich.); Adam Wilcox (Jr., F, Alpharetta, Ga.).

Experience with NMU gives UAH confidence heading into playoffs

UAH bench

The UAH bench celebrates the 4-2 win over NMU on Feb. 4. (Photo by Todd Thompson/RiverCat Photography)

It’s no secret that UAH will be underdog going into the WCHA quarterfinal series at Northern Michigan.

If the regular season was any indication, however, an upset is not out of the question.

“We like our matchup,” UAH head coach Mike Corbett said. “This is a team we’ve played 2-2, so we feel good about that. Unfortunately, games aren’t played on paper, but you know we can feel confident going into that weekend, knowing that this is a team we’ve beaten in the past.”

UAH and NMU played series in both Marquette and Huntsville this season, and both were splits. Each team had a one-goal win and a two-goal win, underscoring how close the matchups have been.

In Marquette back in December, UAH had a 1-0 lead before losing 3-1, but rebounded the next night with a 3-2 victory.

“We were able to get a win out here and keep the game close here, but we are going to have to be able to get more shots on goal,” Corbett said.

Northern Michigan has a corps of dangerous scorers. Robbie Payne leads the Wildcats with 20 goals, and two others have 17, Troy Loggins and Darien Craighead. Centering on Loggins’ line is Adam Rockwood, who has 30 assists this season.

“The toughest thing is that they have good depth up front with Payne, Loggins, and Rockwood,” Corbett said. “They’ve got some guys who can definitely score up front. The biggest thing is being able to try to contain those guys. In the playoffs, your top players have got to be your top players. They’ve been banking on those guys all year and they’ve been coming through. We’ve got to be able to force their secondary guys to be able to score for them. That’s the biggest challenge for us.”

UAH will need big contributions from its top players as well, and that means Josh Kestner (21 goals) and Tyler Poulsen (nine goals and 15 assists).

“Their goaltender (Atte Tolvanen) has been an all-league goaltender and we’re going to have to be able to get to him,” Corbett said.

Kestner is one of six seniors who played in the Chargers’ last playoff series in 2015. In addition, Richard Buri, Cody Champagne, Max McHugh, Brandon Parker, and Brennan Saulnier were all freshmen who got playoff experience at Michigan Tech. UAH lost 1-0 in triple overtime and 3-0 in that series.

“(The seniors) have been on the stage,” Corbett said. “We had the three overtime game with Michigan Tech and I think they understand what it take to be able to play in the playoffs. Everything is magnified and everything’s going to be a little bit tighter and mistakes are magnified.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how dialed in we are at practicing certain things that we need to be able to work on. Their leadership is going to be important because they were the only group that played in the playoffs on our team.”

The Chargers will leave Wednesday night for Marquette by bus. They will stop for practice along the way. It’s a long trip (22 hours), and once again the Chargers will have to manage the fatigue.

“We’be been fatigued since our road trip,” Corbett said, referring to the stretch of 12 straight road games and three-week trip through Bemidji and Alaska around New Year’s. “It’s been tough for us to be able to put together back to back consistent efforts.

“We’re taking a 22-hour bus ride up to Northern Michigan and now we’ve got to be able to once again manage those levels of fatigue. The good thing is we get to take a few extra players and make sure that we’re putting the freshest guys on the ice we can.”

Jeffers committed for next season
By Asher Kitchings

UAH recently received another commitment for the 2018-2019 season. Jack Jeffers, a 6-foot-0, 180-pound forward from Oakville, Ontario, who is currently playing for the Markham Royals of the OJHL, will be joining forwards Tyr Thompson, Ben Allen, and Bauer Neudecker, and defensemen Drew Lennon, in the incoming recruiting class.

Jeffers was a teammate of current Charger Christian Rajic last season, and has really put everything together this year. He’s got four years of junior hockey under his belt, exceptional speed, and offensive instincts, which should allow him to acclimate to the college game quicker than most. More of a playmaker than a pure goal-scorer, Jeffers has put up 78 points in 53 games this season — well over a point per game.

As someone who was on NHL Central Scouting’s radar during his draft year, Jeffers is a welcome addition to this already strong crop of legitimate D-I recruits.

For a preview of this kid’s skillset, check out this short clip of a goal he scored in 2016 CJHL Top Prospects Game:

WCHA quarterfinals set: UAH goes to NMU

The Chargers will be the seventh seed in the WCHA playoffs, and will travel to second-seeded Northern Michigan for the best-of-3 quarterfinals.

The series begins Friday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Michigan. Game 2 is Saturday, and game 3, if necessary, is Sunday. All games are scheduled to start at 6:07 p.m. Central Time.

The Chargers and Wildcats split their four meetings this season. In Marquette on Dec. 1-2, NMU won 3-1 and UAH won 3-2, and in Huntsville on Feb. 3-4, NMU won 4-3 and UAH won 4-2.

UAH is in the WCHA playoffs for the second time since joining the conference five years ago, and the first time since 2015. That year, UAH, also the seventh seed, went to Michigan Tech and was swept by scores of 1-0 (in triple overtime, the longest game in UAH history) and 3-0.

The other WCHA quarterfinal pairings are: #8 Alaska at #1 Minnesota State; #6 Ferris State at #3 Bowling Green; #5 Michigan Tech at #4 Bemidji State.

The best-of-3 semifinals will be held Feb. 9-11 and the WCHA Championship Game will be Feb. 17 at the highest remaining seeds.

Eight Chargers to be honored at Senior Night

Eight will be playing their final games at the Von Braun Center as UAH Chargers this weekend. They will be honored before Saturday afternoon’s home finale for Senior Night against Bowling Green.

Richard Buri
Richard Buri (Nitra, Slovakia) has six goals and eight assists for 14 points in 101 games as a defenseman. Buri has a career-best 39 blocks this season for a total 134 in his career.  Buri made the WCHA all-academic team in 2015-16 and was a WCHA scholar-athlete in 2016-17.

Cody Champagne
Cody Champagne (Brookfield, Conn.) has played 128 games as a defenseman. He has two goals and seven assists in his UAH career. Champagne leads this year’s team with 53 blocked shots, with a four-year total of 155. Champagne made the WCHA all-academic team in 2015-16 and was a WCHA scholar athlete in 2016-17.

Josh Kestner
Josh Kestner (Huntsville, Ala.) has 40 career goals at UAH, the sixth most in the Chargers’ modern Division I era. Twenty of those have come this season, the most in 13 years, to lead the WCHA. Kestner, an alternate captain, leads UAH in goals and points for the second straight season. Kestner made the WCHA all-academic team in 2015-16 and was a WCHA scholar-athlete in 2016-17.


Captain Max McHugh (Edgewood, Wash.) has 28 goals and 39 assists for 67 points in his UAH career. McHugh led the Chargers in scoring in his freshmen and sophomore years with 23 and 22 points, respectively. McHugh made the all-WCHA rookie team in 2014-15, when he set the UAH modern Division I record for goals by a freshman with a team-leading 12. McHugh is a three-time WCHA scholar athlete.


Brandon Parker
 
(Faribault, Minn.) has played 134 games at UAH, fifth all-time. The defenseman has nine goals and 40 assists for 49 career points. This season, the alternate captain has six assists. Parker has blocked a total of 213 shots. He is a three-time WCHA scholar-athlete.

Tyler Poulsen
Tyler Poulsen
(Arvada, Colo.) is a junior who will be finishing his eligibility with a breakout season, tallying 14 assists (leading the team) and 23 points (second on the team). Poulsen has career totals of 15 goals and 20 assists for 35 points in 83 games played.


Brennan Saulnier (Halifax, Nova Scotia) has 21 goals and 34 assists for 55 points in four years at UAH, including a career-best eight goals this season. He was named the WCHA offensive player of the month for October 2015 for scoring six goals in five games. Saulnier has 325 penalty minutes, fifth all-time at UAH.

Jordan Uhelski
Jordan Uhelski (Flint, Mich.) has become one of the WCHA’s top goaltenders this season. Taking over the No. 1 job in his junior year, Uhelski has a goals against average of 2.88 (fifth all-time at UAH, second in the modern Division I era) and a .909 save percentage (fifth all-time and third in the D-I era) in 50 games played. Uhelski made the WCHA all-academic team in 2015-16 and was a WCHA scholar-athlete in 2016-17.

Individual photos by Todd Thompson/RiverCat Photography. Seniors photo by Doug Eagan/UAH Athletics.

Thomas goes to Washington: UAH assistant coach Matty Thomas will become the new hockey director and under-18 coach of the Washington Little Capitals, the youth club announced on Friday.

Thomas has spent the last five seasons as an assistant to head coach Mike Corbett and the Chargers, coaching defensemen and penalty kill units.

Blue Line Club luncheon: The last Blue Line Club luncheon of the season will be this Friday at noon in the Varsity Room at Spragins Hall. Several UAH seniors and coach Mike Corbett will discuss this weekend’s final home series against Bowling Green. Terranova’s will be catering.