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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.

BOX SCORE

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.

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Playoff spot on hold after UAH falls to FSU

The Chargers missed a chance to seal their WCHA playoff berth on Saturday. Instead, it will come down to the final week of the regular season.

Ferris State defeated UAH 5-2, splitting the series and pulling back to within four points of the Chargers for the eighth and final playoff spot. UAH has 25 points, while Ferris State has 21.

A tie or better would have done the job for the Chargers (7-25-2 overall, 7-17-2-2 WCHA), who ended up splitting the season series with the Bulldogs at 2-2-0.

The magic number for UAH is three points. Any combination of UAH points won and Ferris State points lost totaling three will put the Chargers back in the WCHA playoffs. Or in simplest terms: A UAH win or a Ferris State loss.

UAH goes to Bowling Green next week, while Ferris State (9-22-3, 6-17-3-0) heads to Lake Superior State. If UAH and FSU end up tied in points at the end, FSU would win the tiebreaker by having a better conference winning percentage.

In this game, there was lots of action and shots on goal in the first period, with Ferris State getting 16 to UAH’s 13.

Hans Gorowsky was probably the busiest among those who were not goaltenders. He had a one-timer kicked away by FSU goaltender Roni Salmenkangas during a power play, and then denied by Salmenkangas on a shorthanded break.

But the third chance was the charm for Gorowsky, who put UAH up 1-0 with his 11th goal of the season at the 12:25 mark. He spun in the slot and beat Salmenkangas stick side.

Ferris State took full control of the second period, breaking through on Mark Sinclair with three goals to take its first lead of the series. Sinclair had shut the Bulldogs out on Friday with 35 saves in a 2-0 UAH win.

Lucas Finner tied the game at 6:54 right as a power play expired. Craig Pefley put FSU up 2-1 at 14:05, and top Bulldog freshman Cooper Zech made it a two-goal advantage with 2:05 left in the period.

The Bulldogs had outshot the Chargers 11-3 before UAH got a couple of pucks on Salmenkangas in a power play at the end of the frame.

That power play bled into the start of the third, and the Chargers capitalized 29 seconds in. Christian Rajic tipped in Connor James’s blast from the right point. Video review checked to see if Rajic’s stick was too high, but the officials found it acceptable and UAH’s deficit was 3-2.

Ferris State regained a two-goal lead with its own power play goal following Bailey Newton’s third penalty of the game. Nate Kallen’s shot up the middle found its way past Sinclair and it was 4-2 Bulldogs with 15:48 remaining.

UAH couldn’t muster many chances to rally, getting only two shots on goal in the third. The best chance came when Connor Merkley made a steal for a breakaway, but Salmenkangas (18 saves) came up big again with the pad with 2:21 remaining.

Pefley added an empty-net goal with 52 seconds to go to seal the win.

Header file photo by Todd Thompson/RiverCat Photography.

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Sinclair’s 2nd shutout puts UAH on verge of playoffs

The Chargers got another huge game from Mark Sinclair, and a big win to put them one step closer back to the WCHA playoffs.

Sinclair stopped all 35 shots he faced as UAH defeated Ferris State 2-0 in Big Rapids on Friday. The sophomore became the first UAH goaltender with multiple shutouts in a season since Scott Munroe had three in 2004-05.

BOX SCORE

UAH (7-24-2 overall, 7-16-2-2 WCHA, 25 points) extended its lead over Ferris State for the eighth and final conference playoff spot to seven points. The Chargers can clinch the berth with one point (a tie or better) in Saturday’s series finale (6:07 p.m. CST).

UAH also pulled to within six points of Alaska for seventh. The Nanooks were hosting first-place Minnesota State late.

Ferris State fell to 8-22-3 overall and 5-17-3-0 (18 points) in WCHA play.

Drew Lennon put the Chargers on top in a mostly uneventful first period. His shot through traffic from just outside the left circle at the 6:44 mark could not be seen by FSU goalie Roni Salmenkangas and was his first collegiate goal and point.

Austin Beaulieu and Jack Jeffers got the assists.

The Bulldogs did put on some pressure in the latter half of the first period, putting 13 shots on UAH netminder Mark Sinclair, who stopped them all.

Sinclair made another 12 saves in the second period, which had a bit more up-and-down action.

It wasn’t until two minutes remaining in the second when the first penalty occurred. Kurt Gosselin went off for tripping FSU’s Lucas Finner, but the UAH power play, which had struggled as of late, put a solid kill to end the period still leading 1-0.

UAH almost took a 2-0 lead with 9:27 left in the third, but Andrew Dodson’s goal was disallowed after video review showed he kicked the puck in.

The Chargers seemed to pick it up in that third period, keeping the Bulldogs at bay until FSU started getting more chances late. UAH had its only power play early in the period as there were only two penalties called all game.

FSU pulled goaltender Roni Salmenkangas (24 saves) with 1:40 left, and maintained extreme pressure for the rest of regulation.

But eventually, UAH would get that goal to seal the game. Bauer Neudecker deflected a pass out of the Charger zone, and the puck traveled all the way into the empty net with four seconds left.

It was Neudecker’s sixth goal of the season.