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Season ends with playoff loss to Minnesota State

The Chargers couldn’t get over the hump that is Minnesota State to extend their season.

UAH lost 4-1 on Saturday in Mankato, Minn., losing the best-of-three WCHA quarterfinal series in a sweep.

The Chargers finish the 2018-19 season with an 8-28-2 record.

Minnesota State (29-7-2), looking to lock down an NCAA tournament at-large bid, will host the WCHA semifinals next week.

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The Chargers simply cannot afford to give the fourth-ranked Mavericks a head start on the scoreboard, but that’s what happened.

Jack Jeffers committed a high sticking penalty at 15 seconds, and Reggie Lutz slams home a goal on the power play at 1:44.

Minnesota State went up 2-0 at the 8:57 mark when Parker Tuomie deflected a Charlie Gerard pass past Mark Sinclair while driving to the net.

Hans Gorowsky, who had a couple of breakaways on Friday, had another late in the first, but once again he was denied by MSU goaltender Dryden McKay.

The Chargers did not help themselves with penalties in the second period, and MSU eventually extended its lead to 3-0 with another power play goal by Lutz, who had a wide open net with 5:35 left.

Minnesota State then pounced again a minute later, as Marc Michaelis, who scored two twice in game one, scored on a drop pass to make it 4-0.

And that basically was the death knell for UAH’s tough 2018-19 season. The Chargers had a rough 1-14-0 start to the campaign, but started to cobble some wins together in the second half to put them in the WCHA postseason.

With 9:44 left in the third, Adam Wilcox nixed the shutout with his third goal of the season, assisted by Connor Wood.

UAH had plenty of opportunities on the power play, but went 0-for-7 Saturday and 0-for-11 in the series. Minnesota State went 4-for-11 on the weekend.

UAH is now winless in the last 30 meetings (0-26-4) against Minnesota State dating back to 2002. MSU is 18-0-2 against UAH since the Chargers joined the WCHA in 2013-14.

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Mavericks take series lead on UAH with two major goals

Goals on separate major power plays were the difference as No. 4 Minnesota State defeated UAH 3-1 on Friday in the opening game of the WCHA quarterfinal series in Mankato, Minn.

Connor Merkley scored for the Chargers in the second period to pull within one, but MSU clamped down and held UAH to two shots on goal in the third.

Game 2 of the series is Saturday at 4:07 p.m. Central Time. The game was pushed up three hours ahead of a winter storm expected to hit southern Minnesota Saturday night.

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Minnesota State (28-7-2) put the Chargers off balance at the start and it lead to the first goal of the game. A wide open Walker Duehr cleaned up a rebound, snapping the puck past Mark Sinclair at the 5:09 mark of the game.

That was the only blemish on Sinclair’s record in the period, as he made some clutch saves to keep UAH (8-27-2) within one.

The Chargers started to get their bearings as the first period wore on, and began to get a few looks on Maverick goaltender Dryden McKay.

UAH was dealt a blow early in the second period, when Andrew Dodson elbowed Jack McNeely near his face in a corner of the UAH end. After a lengthy video review, officials determined that it was contact to the head, ending Dodson’s night with a game misconduct and putting the Mavericks on a major power play.

Minnesota State would get one goal by Marc Michaelis about a minute into the five-minute advantage to take a 2-0 lead.

The Chargers withstood the rest of the power play, and then got three power plays of their own in the second. UAH would not convert, although they did allow the Chargers to keep the puck away from the high-powered Mavericks.

But UAH did eventually cut MSU’s lead to 2-1 with 3:32 left in the second. Connor Merkley poked in a rebound under McKay on Dayne Finnson’s shot up the middle for his third goal of the season. Madison Dunn earned his 10th assist of the season on the play.

Sinclair had to come up big to keep it a one-goal game at the second intermission, making big saves on Michaelis and Reggie Lutz in the final half-minute.

The Chargers did not give themselves much of a chance to find the equalizer early in the third period. Brandon Salerno had a hooking penalty, and after UAH killed that one, Kurt Gosselin drew a five-minute major (but no game misconduct) after his high stick hit the face of Lutz.

It was on the Mavericks’ second major power play of the night that Michaelis struck again with his second goal of the night and extended their lead to 3-1 with 14:34 remaining. Minnesota State was 2-for-5 combined on the man advantage.

After that, the Mavericks basically pinned the Chargers, who couldn’t get hardly anything going offensively. They also peppered Sinclair, who finished with 32 saves.

For the game, MSU outshot UAH 35-13.

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Preview: UAH at Minnesota State, WCHA quarterfinals

Where: Verizon Center, Mankato, Minn.
When: Game 1, Friday, 7:07 p.m.; Game 2, Saturday, 7:07 p.m.; Game 3 (if necessary), Sunday, 7:07 p.m.
Watch: FloHockey.tv (subscription required)

It’s the 2019 WCHA playoffs, and the eighth-seed Chargers head to Mankato this weekend to face top-seed and No. 4-ranked Minnesota State.

The Mavericks (27-7-2) won the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular-season champions for the second straight season and fourth time in five years.

Needless to say, UAH (8-26-2) is the clear underdog. The Chargers will need the usual great goaltending, timely goals, and minimal mistakes to pull off an upset win, and they’ll have to do it twice within three days.

Most likely candidates to help UAH pull the upset: Goaltender Mark Sinclair has posted big games this season in the WCHA, earning two shutouts. Hans Gorowsky has been hot as of late, scoring goals in four in his last five games.

The defensive corps has been stalwarts blocking shots, with Cam Knight leading the way with 75 blocks.

UAH players to watch:
Mark Sinclair, G, So. (2.84 GAA, .917 SV%)
Hans Gorowsky, F, Sr. (12g-7a-19p)
Kurt Gosselin, D, Sr. (4g-11a-15p)
Bauer Neudecker, F, Fr. (7g-7a-14p)
Jack Jeffers, F, Fr. (7g-7a-14p)
Chargers 2018-19 statistics

Minnesota State players to watch:
Dryden McKay, G, Fr. (1.78 GAA, .928 SV%)
Marc Michaelis, F, Jr. (16g-10a-26p)
Parker Tuomie, F, Jr. (13g-21a-34p)
Jared Spooner, F, So. (7g-20a-27p)
Connor Mackey, D, So. (6g-16g-22p)
Mavericks 2018-19 statistics

WCHA quarterfinals schedule:

Friday, March 8 (Game 1)
#8 UAH at #1 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
#7 Alaska at #2 Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
#6 Michigan Tech at #3 Bowling Green, 6:37 p.m.
#5 Bemidji State at #4 Lake Superior State, 6:07 p.m.

Saturday, March 9 (Game 2)
#8 UAH at #1 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
#7 Alaska at #2 Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
#6 Michigan Tech at #3 Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.
#5 Bemidji State at #4 Lake Superior State, 6:07 p.m.

Sunday, March 10 (Game 3, if necessary)
#8 UAH at #1 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
#7 Alaska at #2 Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
#6 Michigan Tech at #3 Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.
#5 Bemidji State at #4 Lake Superior State, 3:07 p.m.

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UAH stuns No. 15 Bowling Green, nabs playoff spot

The Chargers clinched a WCHA playoff spot on Friday, and stunned 15th-ranked Bowling Green 4-2 in Ohio.

UAH’s berth was official when Ferris State lost to Lake Superior State 5-2, but the Chargers wouldn’t leave it at that, earning their first win over a ranked team this season.

The Chargers (8-25-2 overall, 8-17-2-2 WCHA) scored three goals in a 3:54 span early in a crazy third period, eliminating a 1-0 deficit.

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Bowling Green (20-9-5, 15-8-4-3), already having secured home ice in the first round, fell to third place in the WCHA standings heading into Saturday’s rematch and regular-season finale (6 p.m., FloHockey.tv).

The exciting end of the game overcame a lackluster first period, when there were no goals, no penalties, and hardly any stoppages of play. Shots on goal were seven for both teams.

The first goal and penalty occurred at the same time at 5:08 of the second period.

Bowling Green’s Sam Craggs was all alone in front of the UAH net. He was hooked by Madison Dunn on his initial shot, which was saved by Mark Sinclair, but he put in the rebound to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.

Dunn went to the penalty box for the hook, but the Chargers were able to kill it to prevent further damage.

The Chargers would not get their first shot on goal of the second period until there was 9:22 to go.

It was late in the second period when Lake Superior State defeated Ferris State 5-2 in Sault Ste. Marie, officially giving the eighth seed of the WCHA playoffs to the Chargers.

UAH senior captain Kurt Gosselin had to be attended to by medical staff after being hit, as physical play cranked up late in the second. He did return to action in the third period, when the Chargers fired off to three quick goals to take the lead.

First, Gosselin assisted on Madison Dunn’s wrap-around to tie the game at 1-1 at the 3:49 mark. It was Dunn’s fourth goal of the season.

Then Jesper Ohrvall, on a 2-on-1 break, took the shot himself, his wrister beating Ryan Bednard high at 5:50.

Hans Gorowsky followed up on the power play with team-leading 12th goal of the season to give UAH a 3-1 lead with 12:17 remaining.

From that point, it was a matter of the Chargers holding on, because the Falcons were buzzing. They outshot UAH 12-8 in the third, most of the shots coming in the second half of the period.

Bowling Green’s pressure finally paid off. The Falcons cut UAH’s lead to 3-2 on another delayed penalty call while the Chargers were already back on their heels. Jacob Dalton had the tally with 8:00 to go.

Jack Jeffers was the guilty Charger with the slashing call, but UAH was able to keep the lead and kill another two minutes off the clock.

Bowling Green pulled Bednard (14 saves) for the extra attacker with 1:40 remaining, and the Chargers got an empty-net goal from Connor Merkley to seal the win.

UAH will head to Mankato, Minn., as the eighth seed next week to face the top seed, Minnesota State, in the best-of-3 WCHA quarterfinals. The Chargers lost 6-1 and 4-0 to the Mavericks in Mankato a month ago.

Sinclair stayed sharp during the furious final frame, finishing with 28 saves on 30 Falcon shots on goal.

UAH will play in the conference tournament for the second year in a row. Last season, the seventh-seeded Chargers lost to No. 2 seed Northern Michigan in three games of the WCHA quarterfinals.

Three stars of the game:
1. Hans Gorowsky, UAH (game-winning goal)
2. Mark Sinclair, UAH (28 saves)
3. Sam Craggs, BGSU (1 goal, 1 assist)

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Preview: UAH at Bowling Green

Where: Slater Family Ice Arena, Bowling Green, Ohio
When: Friday, 7:07 p.m. CST; Saturday, 6:07 p.m. CST
Watch: FloHockey.tv (subscription required)

Charger update: UAH (7-25-2 overall, 7-17-2-2 WCHA) goes into the final week of the regular season holding the eighth and final WCHA playoff spot. The Chargers split on the road against the team trying to snatch it away from them, the Ferris State Bulldogs.

UAH won the first game in Big Rapids 2-0, with Mark Sinclair making 35 saves in earning his second shutout of the season. Sinclair is now fourth in the WCHA in save percentage at .917.

The Chargers scored first in the second game but allowed three second-period goals in the second period and couldn’t come back in a 5-2 defeat.

UAH still holds the advantage over Ferris State by four points. While the Chargers visit No. 15 Bowling Green, the Bulldogs will be at 19th-ranked Lake Superior State.

The magic number for the Chargers to clinch the playoff spot is three points. Any combination of UAH points won and Ferris State points lost totaling three (such as a UAH win or FSU loss) will send UAH to Mankato next week to face Minnesota State in the WCHA quarterfinals.

Hans Gorowsky scored a goal in each game last week for a team-leading 11 goals on the season. He has found the net in three straight games.

UAH 2018-19 Statistics

WCHA standingsPts.WCHA record
x-Minnesota State6220-5-1-1
y-Bowling Green5215-7-4-3
z-Northern Michigan5016-8-2-0
z-Lake Superior State4715-9-2-0
z-Bemidji State4513-9-4-2
z-Michigan Tech4313-10-3-1
z-Alaska3410-14-2-2
UAH257-17-2-2
Ferris State216-17-3-0
e-Alaska Anchorage112-21-3-2

x-Clinched MacNaughton Cup. y-Clinched home ice in the first round. z-Clinched playoff berth. e-Eliminated from playoff contention.

About the Falcons: Bowling Green (20-8-5 overall, 15-7-4-3 WCHA) enters the final weekend in second place in the WCHA standings. The Falcons are undefeated in their last four games and 5-2-2 in their last nine.

The Falcons can finish anywhere between second and fourth in the standings. They lead third-place Northern Michigan by two points and fourth-place Lake Superior by five.

Bowling Green swept the Chargers in its visit to Huntsville in December by scores of 6-2 and 2-1.

The Falcons are led by three 13-goal scorers: Sophomores Max Johnson and Connor Ford and junior Lukas Craggs. Vegas Golden Knights prospect Brandon Kruse leads the squad with 33 points (second in the WCHA) on the strength of 25 assists (tops in the WCHA).

Goaltender Ryan Bednard (Florida Panthers) leads the WCHA in goals against average (1.78) and save percentage (.926).

Bowling Green 2018-19 Statistics

Series notes: 
Overall: Bowling Green leads 25-5-2 (first meeting: Jan. 21, 2000).
In Bowling Green: BGSU leads 12-1-2. UAH win was Dec. 7, 2013 (4-3 in OT).
Last meeting: Dec. 1-2, 2008 at Huntsville. BGSU won 6-2 and 2-1.

This week in the WCHA: All times are Central. All WCHA home games can be seen on FloHockey.tv.

Friday, March 1
UAH at #15 Bowling Green, 7:07 p.m.
Ferris State at #19 Lake Superior State, 6:07 p.m.
Northern Michigan at Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at #4 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
Alaska at Alaska Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.

Saturday, March 2
UAH at #15 Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.
Ferris State at #19 Lake Superior State, 6:07 p.m.
Michigan Tech at Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at #4 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
Alaska at Alaska Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.