Chargers lose point to extra-attacker goal; 3-3 (OT)

I think that this game was best summed up in our Slack chat tonight:

Could have won. Probably should have lost. Got a tie. All the mixed emotions.

Indeed, that’s a fair assessment.  UAH was out-shot 49-21 on Friday night in Big Rapids: sour sixteens in each of the regulation periods and just one in OT, thanks to Ferris having to kill a penalty.  But junior goaltender Matt Larose (Nanaimo, B.C.) was razor sharp, stopping 46 saves, a season-high for Charger netminders, and UAH got enough puck luck to push it to three goals for the third straight game.  But a fluky extra-attacker goal by the home squad

The Chargers sent a steady stream of white jerseys to the box, including a rare appearance by sophomore forward Max McHugh (Seattle), his first since November 7th.  In all, UAH was whistles for nine penalties taking 21 minutes, the one major a facemasking call against junior defenseman Brandon Carlson (Huntington, Beach, Calif.).

UAH returned to form with its fine penalty killing after a stumble last week against Alaska, stopping all eight opportunities and potting a shorthanded goal, as junior forward Matt Salhany (Warwick, R.I.) picked up a loose puck for a Stealhany to knot the game at 2-2 and deflate the home side.

BOX SCORE

For the Chargers, tonight’s game was all about sustained effort.  McHugh started the Chargers’ scoring off with his sixth of the season, banging home a backhander low past Ferris State freshman goaltender Darren Smith (Barrie, Ont.) after mucking and grinding down low with sophomore forward Brennan Saulnier (Halifax, Nova Scotia) to know bring the game level at 1-1.

After junior forward Jared VanWormer (Traverse City, Mich.) shocked the UAH defense by scoring :34 into the third and :09 after Saulnier’e penalty expired.  A cross-checking minor penalty committed by freshman forward Madison Dunn (Calgary) just :45 later spelled doom for the Chargers, who looked to be reeling.  Instead, Salhany’s quick reaction and fleet feet were combined with the right move to light the lamp.

UAH couldn’t capitalize on a couple of Ferris penalties, all on the route to go 0-for-6 with the man advantage on the evening.  But the Chargers then shocked the home crowd and pulled ahead when Marooney, Wilcox, and Poulsen brought tons of pressure, with freshman forward Tyler Poulsen (Arvada, Colo.) picking up the goal after finding the puck on a Ferris State stick and pushing it past Smith (18sv).

Sadly for the Chargers, the Bulldogs kept strong pressure in the UAH end, pulling Smith for an extra attacker and eventually getting senior forward Kenny Babinski (Midland, Michigan) his sixth goal of the year to dash the Herd’s hopes of pulling even with Alaska in the standings.  Neither team did much in the extra five minutes, even with the Bulldogs taking the penalty.

Larose moved to 3-4-1 on the season, his GAA edging up to 2.28 but his SV% moving to .927.  Smith is now 6-4-4.

As the Chargers seek to move out of the WCHA basement, they got no help from last week’s foe, Alaska, who won in overtime in Marquette.  The Chargers are still in last place with 9 league points, three behind 9th-place Alaska-Anchorage, who have three games in hand on the Chargers.

Hoof Beats: Big series for Saulnier earns WCHA award

Brennan Saulnier

Brennan Saulnier

After a three-goal, five point weekend, UAH sophomore forward Brennan Saulnier was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Saulnier had two goals and two assists to lead the Chargers to a 5-2 victory over Connecticut on Saturday, which secured a series split. His first goal tied the game at 2-2 in the first period, and his second extended UAH’s lead to 4-2. The four points were the most by a Charger in a single game since Jack Prince did the feat at Michigan Tech on Feb. 8, 2014.

Saulnier’s goal on Friday in the first period tied the game at 1-1, but the Chargers would ultimately lose 5-2.

The Halifax, Nova Scotia native led all Chargers with 10 shots on goal for the weekend. He also committed three penalties.

It is Saulnier’s second WCHA weekly award. Last season, he won the WCHA Rookie of the Week award after having two assists against Air Force.

hockey-day-huntsville

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In-state exhibition: UAH hosts the Alabama Frozen Tide club team on Saturday at the Huntsville IcePlex for an exhibition contest. Game time is 6 p.m., with “Skate with the Chargers” following the game.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under and students with ID, and the price includes admission to Skate with the Chargers. UAH students get free skate rental with the purchase of a ticket.

Alabama, coached by former Charger player and assistant coach Mike Quenneville, is playing its first season in ACHA Division I, the highest level in club hockey. Another UAH tie: Senior forward Andre Morard is the son of Gus Morard, who played on UAH’s first club teams from 1979-83.

The game is part of Hockey Day Huntsville at the IcePlex, a celebration of the game in the Rocket City. Youth league games will take place Saturday morning, followed by the Point Mallard Ducks taking on the St. Louis Jr. Blues at 2 p.m. Food trucks will be on hand throughout the day.

Guerriero on Richter watch: Carmine Guerriero has been named to the watch list for the 2016 Mike Richter Award, which goes to the best goaltender in NCAA Division I. The award is presented by Let’s Play Hockey and the Herb Brooks Foundation.

Guerriero was a candidate for the award last season as he posted a .928 save percentage — 14th highest in Division I — and a 2.56 goals against average in 29 starts. Against UConn, he stopped 59 of 65 shots, a .908 save percentage, including 22 straight to finish UAH’s win on Saturday.

WCHA roundup: The WCHA went 5-9-3 in non-conference action in the opening week of the season (not including Michigan Tech’s two exhibition victories). Some of the highlights:

  • Bemidji State, like last year, pulled off an early-season stunner by beating No. 2-ranked Minnesota Duluth in Bemidji on Saturday (the first game in Duluth on Friday was postponed due to a power outage).
  • In the matchup of preseason top-ten teams, Omaha won the Spirit of the Maverick trophy by going into Mankato and taking both games from Minnesota State.
  • No. 16 Bowling Green held serve at home and in Columbus to sweep Ohio State.
  • The Alaska teams went 1-3 in the Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage, including the Alaska Nanooks being Arizona State’s first Division I victim.

Friday, Oct. 9
Connecticut 5, UAH 2
#4 North Dakota 5, Lake Superior State 2 (Ice Breaker at Portland, Maine)
#16 Bowling Green 6, Ohio State 3
Western Michigan 3, Ferris State 2
Northern Michigan 2, Wisconsin 2, OT
#10 Omaha 3, #6 Minnesota State 2
Bemidji State at #2 Minnesota Duluth, postponed (power outage)
St. Cloud State 3, Alaska 0 (Kendall Hockey Classic at Anchorage)
Alaska Anchorage 3, Arizona State 2, OT (Kendall Hockey Classic)
#15 Michigan Tech 5, Laurentian 1 (Exhibition)

Saturday, Oct. 10
UAH 5, Connecticut 2
Michigan State 4, Lake Superior State 1 (Ice Breaker at Portland, Maine)
Western Michigan 1, Ferris State 1, OT
16 Bowling Green 2, Ohio State o
Northern Michigan 3, Wisconsin 3, OT
#10 Omaha 2, #6 Minnesota State 0
Bemidji State 3, #2 Minnesota Duluth 2
Arizona State 2, Alaska 1 (Kendall Hockey Classic at Anchorage)
St. Cloud State 6, Alaska Anchorage 2 (Kendall Hockey Classic)
#15 Michigan Tech 5, Laurentian o (Exhibition)

Bowling Green moved up to No. 10 in this week’s USCHO.com poll. Minnesota State fell to No. 14, and Michigan Tech is at No. 16. Bemidji State, Northern Michigan, and Ferris State all received votes.

UAH 5, UConn 2

HUNTSVILLE — The homestanding UAH Chargers (1-1-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) rebounded from a tough game on Friday to win going away on Saturday, again potting two first-period goals but equaling that total in the final frame for a 5-2 win over the visiting Connecticut Huskies (1-1-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East).  (Box score)

The Chargers were paced by a blistering night from their top line.  Sophomore forward Brennan Saulnier (Halifax, Nova Scotia) scored two goals and assisted on each of his linemates’ markers, while senior forward Chad Brears (Cold Lake, Alberta) also assisted on his linemates’ goals and sophomore forward Max McHugh (Seattle) assisted on Saulnier’s first tally.  The 4-5—9 mark is the highest for one Charger line since February 25, 2006, when Bruce Mulherin (2002-06, Red Deer, Alb.) went 1-4—5, Brett McConnachie (2003-07, Ajax, Ont.) 3-0—3, and Chris Martini (2003-06, Calgary, Alb.) slacked 1-0—1 to make for a startling five goals and four assists on the night.  Saulnier’s effort is the Chargers’ single-best point effort since Jack Prince’s 2-2—4 game against Michigan Tech on February 8, 2014.

UAH scored five goals just once in 2014-15, a 5-2 win over Lake Superior that was the program’s first Division I home win in nearly four years.  The seven-goal weekend output was the highest at home against a Division I opponent since a 4-2 loss and 5-5 tie against Niagara in 2008-09, and the Chargers are 1-1-0 to start the season for the first time since 2010-11.

It was kinda historic.

The Huskies got an early lead when freshman forward Hans Gorowsky (Lino Lakes, Minn.) hauled down sophomore forward Corey Ronan (Franklin, Mass.) on a breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot that Ronan rang in off of the left post.

The Chargers soon responded.  Brears would knot the game at 1-1 just 67 seconds later off of a feed from sophomore defenseman Richard Buri (Nitra, Slovakia).  Husky freshman defenseman Miles Gendron (Shrewsbury, Mass.) would push the visitors back up 2-1 with his first collegiate goal just 1:55 after that.  Then the Chargers returned the favor :25 later with Saulnier’s first marker of the night (Brears, McHugh).  All four goals were scored in 4:27.

After a period of out-shooting the Huskies 15-10, the Chargers returned more to recent form, suffering a deficit of 12-5 in the middle frame.  McHugh would score on the power play, though, pushing UAH to the lead with just 2:36 left in the 2nd right after senior defenseman Kyle Huson‘s (Parker, Colo.) penalty expired to bring the Huskies back to four defenders.

The Chargers poured it on in the third, adding Saulnier’s second marker from an assist by senior defenseman Frank Misuraca (Clinton Township, Mich.) at 6:10.  Gorowsky added an insurance marker on the penalty kill, taking a feed from junior forward Regan Soquila (Maple Ridge, B.C.), who had intercepted a poor outlet pass into neutral ice.  Soquila nearly ended his goalless streak just a shift later, sending a puck just wide of Husky sophomore goaltender Steve Thulin (North Reading, Mass.).

Junior goaltender Carmine Guerriero (Montréal, Qué.) made 29 saves in the win, moving up to 1-1-0 and raising his save percentage to .908 and lowering his GAA to 3.01.  Thulin, seeing his first collegiate action, made 24 saves.

UAH plays an exhibition next weekend against the University of Alabama’s club team before starting the WCHA season at home the next weekend against Alaska-Anchorage.  The exhibition is at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday the 17th, while the varsity games on the 23rd and 24th drop the puck at 7:07 p.m.

Hoof Beats: Newcomer notes

UAH revealed its signees for the 2015-16 season on August 3. Many of the forwards put up some prolific numbers for their junior teams last season, which will hopefully signal continued growth for the Charger offense. Here’s a summary of how they played in the 2014-15 season:

Team Pos GP G A Pts PIM
Hunter Anderson Langley (BCHL) F 58 11 19 30 64
Madison Dunn Brooks (AJHL) F 60 8 35 43 58
Hans Gorowsky Fairbanks (NAHL) F 60 23 33 56 38
Kurt Gosselin Alberni Valley (BCHL) D 32 12 31 43 32
Jetlan Houcher Fort McMurray (AJHL) F 60 39 32 71 57
Cam Knight Wichita Falls (NAHL) D 60 9 24 33 55
Tyler Poulsen* Topeka (NAHL) F 56 29 32 61 44
Brandon Salerno Pickering (OJHL) F 49 30 39 69 30
John Teets Fairbanks (NAHL) D 60 3 17 20 53
Adam Wilcox Fairbanks (NAHL) F 43 6 11 17 96

* 2013-14 statistics

Jetlan Houcher (Photo by Fort McMurray Oil Barons)

Jetlan Houcher (Photo by Fort McMurray Oil Barons)

Some other tidbits on this class:

  • Jetlan Houcher will reunite with UAH sophomore Brennan Saulnier, who was his teammate at Fort Murray in the 2013-14 season. John Teets and Adam Wilcox were also on that Oil Barons squad, which won 45 games and reached the AJHL Division Final.
  • Tyler Poulsen played with Cody Champagne with Topeka in the 2013-14 season. Poulsen led the Roadrunners in scoring that year while Champagne was the second-leading scorer among defensemen as they reached the NAHL semifinals.
  • Hunter Anderson and Hans Gorowsky will join Cody Marooney and Brandon Parker to make four native Minnesotans on the roster, the most UAH has had at one time in its history. Anderson and Gorowsky would make it 10 Minnesotans overall in 31 seasons. (By contrast, UAH has had seven native Huntsvillians.)
  • Wilcox will be the fourth player from the state of Georgia to play from the Chargers, following Neil Ruffini, Kyle Lysaght, and Craig Pierce.
  • Teets will be the second UAH player to come from the state of Alaska (Levi Hall, 1995-96).
  • Brandon Salerno will be eligible to play for the Chargers in the 2016-17 season.

Frozen Tide exhibition: UAH will host Alabama’s club team at the Wilcoxon Ice Complex on Oct. 17, the weekend after the Chargers open the season at the VBC against Connecticut.

The growing Frozen Tide program, coached by Charger alumnus Mike Quenneville (’89), will be playing its first season in American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I.

UAH and Alabama played two exhibition games to start the 2012-13 season, with the Chargers winning 12-1 and 10-0.

New WCHA.tv partner:  Stretch Internet will provide the online streaming for WCHA.tv in the 2015-16 season, the WCHA announced on Wednesday.

The new WCHA.tv will allow for multiple HD streams, including picture-in-picture and the ability to watch up to four games at once. The portal will integrate live stats and social media, and be available on tablet, mobile, and Smart TV devices.

Information on WCHA.tv subscription packages and pricing for the 2015-16 season (including full season, monthly, single day, team-specific and more) will be available in September.

Chargers lose in OT to USA Under-18 Team

The Chargers battled with the best of America’s young hockey talent, but fell 2-1 in overtime against the U.S. National Under-18 Team in a Saturday exhibition game at the Von Braun Center.

Matthew Tkachuk, son of NHL 500-goal scorer Keith, beat UAH goaltender Matt Larose with 40 seconds left in overtime after the Chargers had a couple of chances at victory of their own.

Team USA outshot the Chargers 39-17, but most of that advantage was built in a dominating second period (17-1). Outside of the second, Team USA outshot UAH 22-16.

The Chargers struck first seven minutes in. Frank Misuraca’s shot from the right point rebounded off Team USA goaltender Mike Lackey right to Brennan Saulnier at the doorstep. Saulnier wristed the puck past Lackey for the 1-0 Charger lead.

UAH had opportunities to expand the lead with a two-man advantage in the middle of the first, and Team USA had three power play changes themselves, but neither team could convert.

Charger starting goaltender Carmine Guerriero stopped all six shots he faced.

The second period was all Team USA. The Under-18s got the first 13 shots on goal before Jeff Vanderlugt finally broke the streak with about seven minutes left in the frame. It was UAH’s only shot of the period to Team USA’s 17.

But Team USA could only get one goal on UAH goaltender Matt Larose, who came in for Guerriero in the second. Troy Terry, who has committed to Denver, beat Larose as he drive through the slot to tie the game at 1-1 at the 11:50 mark.

Larose finished with 31 saves on 33 shots in 45 minutes of work. Lackey played the whole game and made 16 saves for Team USA.

UAH and Team USA face off again Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the VBC. The first 1,000 fans get a free UAH hockey team photo.

Notes: Ben Reinhardt returned to the UAH lineup after missing 10 games due to injury. … James Block and Bryan Siersma saw their first action for UAH. … UAH is now 0-6-1 in exhibition games against the U.S. Under-18 Team.