Season ends with loss to Bowling Green

UAH finished the 2019-20 season with a 4-1 loss to Bowling Green on Saturday at the Von Braun Center.

The Chargers end the year at 2-26-6, with a 2-20-6-1 record in WCHA play.

It was the final game at UAH for five Chargers: Austin Beaulieu, Connor James, Sean Rappleyea, Teddy Rotenberger, and Brandon Salerno.

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The Falcons outshot the Chargers 39-22. UAH goaltender Mark Sinclair had 35 saves.

Bowling Green (19-13-4, 14-10-4-3 WCHA) scored the first goal on the power play. Taylor Schneider skated in front of the UAH net and tucked the puck just inside Sinclair’s near pad with 11:15 left in the first period.

At the end of the first period, Bowling Green’s Sam Craggs puts Connor James into the boards and gets a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.

The Chargers didn’t score during the major power play, but did score a 5-on-3 power-play goal to tie the game after a multitude of penalties on both sides.

Beaulieu deflected Connor James’s shot past Zach Rose to tie the game at 1-1 at the 7:11 mark of the second period.

It was the sixth goal of the season for Beaulieu and sixth assist for James. Josh Latta got his team-leading 11th helper.

Connor Merkley’s night ended early after crunching Jacob Dalton from behind in the Bowling Green zone. Merkley received a five-minute major and a game misconduct with 8:43 left in the period.

On the ensuing power play, the Falcons regained the lead with two goals. With 5:39 left in the second, Brandon Kruse roofed the puck from Sinclair’s left to make it 2-1. Almost two minutes later, Connor Ford’s blast from the left point slid in to make it 3-1.

Special teams will be a focus for next season, according to head coach Mike Corbett. The Chargers finished with only a 7.9 percent efficiency on the power play, and a 74 percent efficiency on the penalty kill.

It was a mostly uneventful third period. The Falcons got an empty-net goal from Carson Musser with 59.8 seconds remaining for the final score.

UAH matches the program record for fewest wins in a season with two, set in the 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons.

Corbett was frank about what needs to be done during the offseason:

“Frustrating year. It could have been a lot better than what we thought. We had a lot higher expectations than the way it ended. We’ve got to learn from it.

“We’ve got to get our guys to understand what this commitment thing is. Just our entire program. Get people to understand that it’s a privilege to play. Our seniors understand now. You don’t think about it until the buzzer blows, but it’s a privilege to play Division I hockey.

“We’ve got too many guys in this room taking it for granted, and it bothers me. I don’t want that. I don’t want to be around that. We have to clean that up. I’ll talk to our seniors afterwards and ask them, what do we need to clean up? They’ll have a say in what we do and the way we move forward.

“Everybody has a different button that needs to be pushed. And when you’re with them as much as we are, you understand what that button is, and if you can’t find that button, it’s time to move on. It’s time to find players who are going to represent this university the way we need them to represent it.

“I like the young guys, but we’ve got to get them stronger for games like this, for teams like Mankato last weekend. We’ve got to really do a good job in the offseason to get our guys stronger. They’re not going to grow, but they have the ability to get stronger and we have to push them to get stronger. That’s going to be our No. 1 focus this spring.”

Bowling Green rallies to top UAH in OT

UAH had a chance to win with a two-goal lead and another hot outing by Mark Sinclair, but Bowling Green rallied to stun UAH 4-3 in overtime on Friday at the Von Braun Center.

The Chargers had built a 3-1 lead over the first half of the game while withstanding another barrage of shots. UAH was outshot 58-17, and had a chance at victory thanks to a Sinclair’s career-high 54-save performance.

“(Sinclair has) made those games close, and you want better for him, without a doubt,” UAH head coach Mike Corbett said. “He’s gives us a chance to win and you want to reward him.”

UAH (2-25-6, 2-19-6-1 WCHA) will finish the season Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. with Senior Day festivities prior.

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After they were shellacked at Minnesota State by a combined score of 18-0 last weekend, the Chargers showed some fight despite the shot disadvantage and built a two-goal lead.

“It’s easy to quit,” Corbett said. “It’s nice that they showed up and have pride in their performance and pride in the jersey and give these guys a run.”

UAH struck first on a nice goal by Ben Allen in the slot, his first of the season. Daneel Lategan gave him the feed from the left corner, and Allen went forehand to backhand to beat Eric Dop top shelf with 3:06 left in the first period.

Bowling Green (18-13-4, 13-10-4-3 WCHA) tied the game just 55 seconds into the second period, when Cameron Wright skated through the right circle and beat Sinclair high.

But the Chargers took the lead again almost halfway in the contest. Brandon Salerno, like Allen before him, was left alone with the puck in the slot on another feed from Lategan, and scored his third goal of the season.

Lucas Bahn got the second assists on both goals.

“Ben Allen’s line was dynamite tonight,” Corbett said. “They were probably our best line tonight and had the most energy, so I rewarded them with more ice time. We’re a team that over the course of time, that’s how it’s got to be.”

Tyr Thompson put UAH up 3-1 on yet another goal from the slot in front of the Falcon net. This time it was a rare power-play goal, assisted by Christian Rajic and Tanner Hickey, with 7:28 remaining in the second.

All three UAH goals came from down low.

“That’s why I say we have to get more pucks and bodies to the net, because there are not a lot of one shot goals any more,” Corbett said. “You have to get second chances. Goals are scored at the net.”

The Falcons trimmed UAH’s lead to 3-2 two minutes later on an Alex Barber power-play goal.

The Falcons outshot UAH 30-14 over the first two periods, but that wasn’t the end of it. BG got 17 more shots on Sinclair in the third before the Chargers finally got one a Dop with around 8:00 left in regulation.

Bowling Green tied the game at 3-3 when Will Cullen’s deflection of a centering pass easily gets by Sinclair with 11:14 left in the third.

In overtime, Max Coyle was called for a tripping penalty with 3:33 left, setting up a power play for Bowling Green. Barber was able to lift one over Sinclair to give the Falcons the victory.

“It’s the story of our season,” Corbett said. “We’re that close to being able to finish a team off. Just having that leadership in the locker room, that alpha dog who doesn’t let (giving up the lead) happen.”

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Chargers fall 4-1 to Lake State in Canada

The frustration carried north of the border.

The Chargers lost to Lake Superior State 4-1 on Saturday at GFL Gardens in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.

UAH (2-22-6, 2-16-6-1 WCHA) barely avoided being shut out for the third straight game, scoring their only goal of the series with 1:16 left in the third period.

It was the Chargers’ first game in Canada since starting the 1994-95 season at the University of Windsor, although this was the first NCAA game for UAH in Canada.

Lake Superior State (10-20-4, 8-12-4-4 WCHA) clinched a spot in the WCHA playoffs with the win.

The Lakers kept Mark Sinclair busy again in this one, getting 15 shots on the junior. The Chargers only mustered four, but it was the same situation: No goals for either team.

But Lake Superior State broke through in the second period with three goals, the first regulation goals of the weekend by either side.

First, Ashton Calder scored on a breakaway with 9:01 left, ending Sinclair’s shutout streak at 126 minutes and 15 seconds.

It just snowballed after that. Jacob Nordqvist made it 2-0 two minutes later, and then Brayden Gelsinger made it 3-0 just 30 seconds after that.

Will Riedell added the fourth goal for the Lakers at 4:11 of the third period.

Tanner Hickey finally got the Chargers on the board with 1:16 remaining.

The Lakers outshot UAH 33-25 for the game. Sinclair finished with 29 saves.

UAH’s road winless streak is now at 21 games (0-17-4) going back to last season. The Chargers hit the road one last time next week at WCHA-leading Minnesota State.

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Sinclair stops 44 in UAH’s first scoreless tie

The good news is that the Chargers officially shut out the Lakers. The bad news is that the Chargers still couldn’t win.

The first scoreless tie in UAH’s 41-year hockey history occurred Friday in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, as the Chargers and Lake Superior failed to score in three periods and overtime.

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The Lakers took the second WCHA point in the shootout, and even that took a while to see a goal. Yuki Miura had the lone tally in the fifth round.

Also historic was UAH goaltender Mark Sinclair. He is credited with his third career shutout, setting a new UAH record for saves in a shutout with 44.

The Chargers (2-21-6, 2-15-6-1 WCHA) matched a program record with their sixth tie of the season. However, they also extended their UAH-record road winless streak to 20 games (0-17-3) going back to last season.

Plus, UAH was shutout for the second straight game. The Chargers haven’t scored in the last seven periods.

UAH has been on the short end of these “extra point” situations following a tie a lot this season. The Chargers have only gotten two points once out of six opportunities.

Lake Superior State improved to 9-20-4 overall and 7-12-4-4 in WCHA play.

Game two of the series is Saturday night at 6 p.m. across the Soo Locks at GFL Gardens in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.

While the bulk of the Lakers’ chances were from firing away at Mark Sinclair, the Chargers’ chances were from Laker miscues on their end.

Sinclair’s glove was plenty active as he kept the Lakers off the board. The junior made 17 saves in the opening period. Mitens was on the spot on the chances he saw, stopping six shots.

The Chargers stepped it up in the second period while the Lakers looked off. But like the first, neither squad could dent the twine. UAH had 12 shots in the middle frame compared to 10 for Lake Superior State.

The Lakers dominated the third period with a 12-4 shots advantage, but once again Sinclair was big, including two stops in the final minute to force overtime.

Each team had one shot on goal in the extra period, but after five minutes the scoreless tie was official.

Each team had a 4-on-3 power-play chance in the 3-on-3 second overtime, but Sinclair and Mitens came up big late to send it to the shootout.

Jack Jeffers, Peyton Francis, Tyr Thompson, Brandon Salerno, and Connor Merkley came up empty in the shootout, the second for UAH this season.

Mitens had 23 total saves in his shutout.

The old UAH record for saves in a shutout was 39, which Mark Sinclair shared when he blanked Michigan Tech last season. The other holders were Derek Puppa (against Minnesota State in 1995) and Scott Munroe (against Robert Morris in 2005).

Chargers blanked by Nanooks

The Chargers lost 3-0 to Alaska at the Von Braun Center on Saturday.

UAH (2-21-5, 2-15-5-1) was shut out for the third time this season one night after scoring a season-high six in a tie on Friday.

The Chargers are eight points behind eighth-place Alaska Anchorage with six games to play. They head to Lake Superior State next week.

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Alaska (14-13-3, 12-9-3-1 WCHA) got on the board quickly. Following a Teddy Rotenberger boarding penalty, Kylar Hope put in a rebound for a power-play goal at the 2:06 mark of the game.

But that was about it for the first period, where the Nanooks outshot the Chargers 10-7.

The Chargers looked strong early in the second but could not find the net, and Alaska went up 2-0 with another power play goal.

After Dayne Finnson’s roughing penalty, Tyler Cline scored for the Nanooks on a one-timer from the right circle.

The Chargers had two power plays in the third period to try to kickstart the offense, but did not muster a shot on goal in either of them. UAH went 0-for-4 on the power play in the game.

UAH could not solve Gustav Grigals, who stopped all 26 Charger shots for the shutout. Grigals had entered in the second period of Friday’s game in relief after the Nanooks had allowed three goals.

Tristan Thompson had a near rink-long empty-net goal with two seconds left to finish the game.

Charger netminder Mark Sinclair finished with 21 saves.

UAH was shut out at home for the first time since February 24, 2018 (3-0 to Bowling Green).

UPDATE: Freshman forward Josh Latta, UAH’s leading scorer this season, left the game late in the first period with a hand injury from being cut by a skate. His prognosis is unknown.