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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.

UAH ends regular season on sour note

After being upset on Friday, the 15th-ranked Falcons got revenge and then some on Saturday, scoring four goals in the first 10 minutes and cruising to a 7-1 win.

For UAH (8-26-2 overall, 8-18-2-2 WCHA), it became a matter of not losing anyone to injury or suspension entering next week’s WCHA quarterfinals at Minnesota State. The game meant nothing in terms of standings, as the Chargers locked up the eighth and final WCHA playoff spot after beating the Falcons 4-2 on Friday.

With the win, Bowling Green (21-9-5, 16-8-4-3) will be the third seed and host Michigan Tech in the quarterfinals.

It was all Falcons from the get-go. Teddy Rotenberger, a Huntsville native playing in his first game for UAH, gets called for tripping at 54 seconds. Alex Barber scored for the Falcons just 18 seconds into the power play.

UAH got a chance to do damage almost immediately after Lukas Craggs checked Jesper Ohrvall from behind, earning him a major and a game misconduct at the 1:57 mark. But the Chargers mustered no shots on goal, two offsides, and hardly any offensive zone time in their five minute power play.

Eleven seconds after the power play expired, Bowling Green scored to make it 2-0 as Frederic LeTourneau stole the puck and quickly beat UAH goaltender Jake Theut high.

At 8:08, another penalty, this time on UAH’s Bailey Newton for boarding LeTourneau. Newton and LeTourneau each got unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, but it was still an advantage for the Falcons.

Nine seconds later, another power play goal, this time Alec Rauhauser and a 3-0 Bowling Green lead.

And it continued, with John Teets elbowing Matt Meier near center ice at the 9:20 mark. The Falcons made it 3-for-3 on the power play at 9:54 with Max Johnson’s goal.

That was it for Theut, who was pulled for allowing four goals on seven shots. Mark Sinclair finished the rest of the first period.

John Schilling added another goal with 6:45 left in the period, and the Falcons led 5-0 at the first intermission.

Theut re-entered the game to start the second period, but he allowed Bowling Green’s sixth goal to Taylor Schneider just 1:58 in.

Bauer Neudecker got UAH on the board with 14:03 left in the second period with a backhander past Ryan Bednard. Neudecker’s seventh goal of the season was assisted by Madison Dunn and Connor Merkley.

With 8:44 left in the second, Newton committed a major boarding penalty on LeTourneau, also getting a game misconduct. The freshman had 19 penalty minutes in the game, and leads the Chargers with 91 penalty minutes on the season.

Schilling scored his second goal of the game with 10:42 left in the third to make it 7-1.

The Chargers matched a season low for shots on goal with 11. The Falcons had 33.

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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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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.