Kestner, UAH beat NMU 3-2 to force Game 3

Josh Kestner scored twice, including the game-winner with 29 seconds remaining, as UAH defeated No. 19 Northern Michigan 3-2 in Marquette on Saturday to force a deciding third game in the WCHA quarterfinal series.

UAH (12-22-2) earned its first-ever WCHA playoff victory by rallying twice from one-goal deficits.


Game 3 is Sunday at 6:07 p.m. The Chargers will try to become the first seventh seed to advance to the WCHA semifinals in the league’s current alignment that began in 2013-14.

Northern Michigan, the second seed, fell to 22-13-3 overall and hurt its chances of getting an NCAA at-large bid.


The Chargers played a much better defensively this time than in Game 1, when the Wildcats scored four times in the first nine minutes to win 7-1.

Senior goaltender Jordan Uhelski was big between the pipes, withstanding a barrage of shots in the second and third periods. He finished with 22 saves on 24 NMU shots.

The first period did not have a lot going on. There was a lot of up-and-down skating, but not many scoring opportunities, nor were there any penalties or power plays.

There were only eight shots on goal for both teams, with UAH getting five of them.

The biggest concern was the health of Christian Rajic, who slid hard legs-first into the boards near the NMU net. Rajic had to be carried by teammates off the ice.

The first turning point occurred in a more eventful second period, when on a 4-on-4 situation, Josh Kestner had a shorthanded breakaway. He had NMU goaltender Atte Tolvanen beat, but the puck hit the right post, crossed the crease, tapped Tolvanen’s right pad and out.

Going the other way, Troy Loggins blasted one past Jordan Uhelski from the high slot for a 1-0 lead at the 3:52 mark.

Kestner would get his goal at 11:47, when he found the upper right corner over Tolvanen from the right circle to tie the game at 1-1. It was Kestner’s 22nd goal of the season, assisted by Max McHugh (third).

That seemed to awaken the Wildcats, and they started pounding the pads of Uhelski. One eventually got through off the stick of Mitchel Slattery, who deflected a Philip Beaulieu pass to regain the lead for NMU at 2-1 at 14:18.

But UAH tied the game again with 2:38 left in the second, as Adam Wilcox poked a puck coming off the end boards in the left circle past Tolvanen. Tyler Poulsen notched his 16th assist.

The Wildcats had a flurry of chances throughout the third period, but Uhelski was up to the task, as well as that tighter Charger defense.

But it was UAH who had the last flurry, as Josh Kestner found a puck in the right circle and wristed it home for his second goal of the game and a 3-2 Charger lead.

Kester now has 23 goals on the year, setting a UAH modern Division I-era record for season goals by a senior, set by Jared Ross’s 22 in the 2004-05 season. He is one goal way from tying the overall Division I-era season record at UAH, which is 24 by Bruce Mulherin, also in 2004-05.

The Chargers are now 3-3 against Northern Michigan this season, and 2-2 in Marquette. UAH rebounded from losing the first game to winning the second game in each series.

Northern Michigan blasts UAH 7-1 in playoff opener

Northern Michigan scored four goals in the first 8:50 and cruised to a 7-1 win over UAH in game one of the WCHA quarterfinals Friday in Marquette, Mich.

UAH (11-22-2) will need to regroup and start fresh Saturday to avoid elimination in the best-of-3 series. But the Chargers will need to find some offense after being outshot 39-14.


They will have to do it without senior forward Brennan Saulnier, who got his fourth game misconduct of the season for verbal abuse of officials in the second period. By NCAA rule, he will sit out Saturday, and perhaps more games if the WCHA suspends him further and UAH extends the series.

Northern Michigan, ranked 19th in the USCHO poll and the second seed of the WCHA playoffs, improved to 22-12-3.

The first nine minutes was nightmarish for the Chargers, and the game was decided then.

UAH had the first power play at the 1:34 mark, but gave up a shorthanded goal at 1:59 when Troy Loggins had a steal and scored on a give-and-go with Adam Rockwood.

This appeared to throw the Chargers out of whack, and the game quickly got away from them.

It became 2-0 NMU when Demico Hannoun took a feed and beat Charger goaltender Jordan Uhelski from the low left circle, just 4:47 in.

It became 3-0 NMU when Robbie Payne had an easy empty net just 48 seconds later.

It became 4-0 NMU when Denver Pierce took a Philip Beaulieu backhanded pass to another open goal at the 8:50 mark.

An angry Uhelski, making only four saves on eight shots, was pulled for freshman Mark Sinclair.

Sinclair was solid in relief. He made 28 saves on 31 shots, including 15 of 16 in the second period.

Late in the second, Brennan Saulnier collided with Pierce, and both were slow to get up. Saulnier was assessed an interference penalty.

NMU answered on the power play with 2:41 left in the second, and it was Pierce scoring with a quick snipe from the slot to make it 5-0 Wildcats.

Saulnier got a cross-checking penalty with 2:32 remaining in the period. He took exception with the officials, and some words got him another misconduct penalty, and then a game misconduct and ejected.

In a very chippy third period, Philip Beaulieu made it 6-0 with 13:09 left. Then Payne scored his second of the game 29 seconds later to make it 7-0.

UAH finally got on the board on the power play with 1:02 to go, as Brandon Parker blasts one from inside the blue line for his first goal of the season and the Chargers’ first ever in a WCHA playoff game.

Madison Dunn and Josh Kestner got the assists.

Chargers shut out by Falcons in home finale

The Chargers could not ride Friday’s playoff-clinching victory into success on Senior Night on Saturday.

Fifteenth-ranked Bowling Green shut down the Chargers 3-0 on Saturday in the regular-season finale at the Von Braun Center, splitting the series.


UAH (11-21-2 overall, 10-16-2 WCHA), which secured its spot in the WCHA playoffs Friday with a 3-2 win, will find out its seeding and quarterfinals destination late tonight when the rest of the conference slate plays out.

The Chargers came into Saturday as the sixth seed, but they will need help to stay there. UAH could fall to either seventh or eighth depending on what happens between Ferris State and Lake Superior State, and Alaska and Alaska Anchorage.

The result was a sour sendoff to UAH’s seniors, who played their game inside Propst Arena.

Bowling Green (20-10-6 overall, 17-6-5 WCHA) had already locked down the third seed, and they could host the Chargers if UAH holds on to the sixth seed.

The Falcons scored a pair of goals in the first period. Connor Ford tallied the first goal at 9:49, and Brett D’Andrea put one past Uhelski from the slot at 15:35.

Bowling Green took a 3-0 lead just 55 seconds into the second period, as Mitch McLain put the puck through Uhelski’s five-hole on the power play.

UAH’s best chance came with a 2-man advantage after back-to-back penalties by the Falcons. But the Chargers, who were able to tie Friday’s game in this situation in the third period, would come up empty this time.

Ryan Bednard stopped all 23 UAH shots for his second shutout of the season.

Uhelski finished with 28 saves.


Chargers stun BGSU 3-2 to clinch playoff berth

Forget relying on others, the Chargers took care of business at home, and they are back in the WCHA playoffs.

Austin Beaulieu’s goal with 1:18 remaining lifted UAH to a 3-2 win over 15th-ranked Bowling Green on Friday, securing a postseason berth for the Chargers for the first time in three years.


UAH (11-20-2 overall, 10-15-2 WCHA) will finish the regular season Saturday at 3 p.m. for Senior Night. Then the Chargers will know their seeding and where they will head for the best-of-3 WCHA quarterfinals next weekend.

The Chargers have 33 points, in sixth place. Alaska could tie them with a win against Alaska Anchorage late. Ferris State defeated Lake Superior 4-1 to move provisionally into seventh with 31 points, leaving Lake Superior out of the top eight.


Bowling Green (19-10-6 overall, 16-6-5 WCHA), which had won seven of its last eight games, secured the third seed.

The Chargers withstood another frantic attack from the Falcons, who held a 32-23 shots on goal advantage. UAH got another great performance from goaltender Jordan Uhelski, who made 30 saves — the sixth time in the last seven games that he has stopped 30 or more shots.

There was no scoring in the first period, but Bowling Green had more scoring chances. The Falcons were dominant in the faceoff circle, winning 16 of 19, and had more shot attempts, 19-13, but UAH had more shots on goal, 9-5, at the first intermission.

The Chargers had a five-minute power play near the end of the first period after BG’s Brett D’Andrea hit John Teets hard in front of the UAH bench. D’Andrea was assessed a major checking from behind penalty with a game misconduct with 28 seconds left.

UAH capitalized on the power play early in the second. Falcon goaltender Ryan Bednard (20 saves) was caught behind his net, and the Chargers took advantage with a steal. Austin Beaulieu sent it to Max McHugh, who scored his second goal of the season at the 3:21 mark.

Bowling Green was able to snatch the lead away from UAH with two power play goals on four Charger penalties in the second period.

The first one followed a McHugh holding penalty, with Mitch McLain powering one from the right circle to tie the game at 1-1 with 9:47 left.

UAH withstood a five-minute boarding major on Beaulieu, but couldn’t on a Cody Champagne hooking minor late in the frame. Alec Rauhauser’s blast from inside the blue line made its way through traffic and past UAH goalie Jordan Uhelski to give Bowling Green its first lead at 2-1 with 1:27 remaining.

The Chargers tied the game at 2-2 with another power play goal of their own, this time converting on a 5-on-3 advantage after back-to-back penalties by the Falcons.

Josh Kestner scored his 21st goal of the season, one-timing a cross-ice pass by Brennan Saulnier, with 12:26 to go in regulation. Saulnier, back in action after being suspended for four games, got his seventh assist, and Tyler Poulsen notched his team-leading 15th assist.

Then came Beaulieu’s game winner, his third goal of the year, which came on a deflection in front of Bednard from a Christian Rajic shot. Champagne was also credited with a helper.

UAH falls hard against No. 5 MSU

Minnesota State, the fifth-ranked team in the country, breathed a sign of relief after needing overtime to beat UAH on Friday and avoid a major upset.

Saturday night, the Mavericks made sure there would not be another scare at the VBC, beating the Chargers 6-1 to complete the series sweep and win their seventh straight game.


UAH (10-20-2 overall, 9-15-2 WCHA) was swept at home for the first time this season, but still sits in sixth place in the WCHA standings, one point ahead of Alaska. Alaska was swept by Northern Michigan, which maintained its one-point lead over Minnesota State (23-7-0 overall, 19-5-0 WCHA) atop the standings.

The Chargers, still looking to secure a WCHA playoff spot, have next week off before finishing the regular season at home against Bowling Green.

Minnesota State scored its first goal at the 3:57 mark, when Nicolas Rivera poked in a rebound from a Brad McClure shot.

Then with 3:39 left in the first period, on a power play resulting from a John Teets cross-checking penalty, the Mavericks made it 2-0 when Dallas Gerads scored, also on a rebound.

UAH got on the board early in the second period, shorthanded after a Brandon Parker interference penalty.

Levi Wunder got a shot in the MSU zone, and the rebound off of Connor LeCouvee slowly entered the slot. Defenseman Richard Buri won the race for the puck, and sniped it past LeCouvee at 1:01.

It was Buri’s first goal of the season and sixth goal of the senior’s UAH career. Wunder got his seventh assist.

But the Mavericks never relented, and regained their two-goal advantage just 1:44 later. Right after Parker’s penalty expired, C.J. Seuss, who scored the overtime winner on Friday, scored on a backhander from goaltender Jordan Uhelski’s doorstep made it 3-1.

Minnesota State made it 4-1 on its second power play goal of the night. Marc Michaelis, who got the game-tying goal with 2:10 left in regulation on Friday, got the score on yet another rebound off Uhelski.

MSU scored their third power play goal at 1:30 of the third period on a blast by Daniel Brickley from the point. Jared Spooner made it 6-1 with 10:32 to go.

Uhelski finished with 29 saves after being pulled at that point. Freshman Mark Sinclair had one save in relief.

Minnesota State outshot UAH 36-24.

Notes: Minnesota State ran its unbeaten streak against UAH to 26 games (22-0-4) dating back to 2002. … Michigan Tech beat Bemidji State 5-1 on Saturday, giving fifth-place Tech 40 points in the WCHA standings. That ensured UAH, which can get no more than 36 points, can finish no higher than sixth.