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.

Series Preview: vs. Connecticut, Oct. 9-10

CATCHING THE GAMES
Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 – 7:07 p.m.
First 500 fans get free UAH Hockey T-shirts
Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 – 7:07 p.m.
First 500 fans get free UAH Hockey trading cards
Kids 12-under get free gen. admission to both games

The Chargers begin the next step as they host Connecticut on Friday and Saturday to start the 2015-16 season.

The first face-off is at 7:07 p.m. both nights. It is UAH’s 31st varsity season, 37th overall, and third in the WCHA.

On Friday, the first 500 fans receive a free UAH hockey t-shirt courtesy of Bryant Bank, Damson Auto, Sodexo and Anglin, Reichmann, Snellgrove & Armstrong P.C.  On Saturday, the first 500 fans receive the season’s first set of UAH hockey trading cards, sponsored by Wells Fargo. All season, kids 12 and under get free general admission courtesy of Huntsville International Airport.

All-time series: UAH leads 8-2-0, including a 6-2-0 record in Huntsville. The Chargers and Huskies last met in 2010 at the RPI Holiday Classic, with UAH taking a 6-2 victory. The last meetings at the Von Braun Center came in 2003, with UConn winning the first game 4-1 and UAH winning the second 6-0.

Max McHugh

Max McHugh

Charger recap: UAH finished last season with an 8-26-4 record overall and a 7-20-1 record in the WCHA. The Chargers lost to Michigan Tech in the first round of the WCHA playoffs in Houghton.

UAH looks to continue steady improvement by raising its offensive output. The Chargers averaged 1.63 goals per game last season, which was ninth in the WCHA.

Max McHugh led UAH with 12 goals and 23 points last season in his WCHA All-Rookie freshman campaign. Brandon Parker was tops on the team in assists as a freshman defenseman with 14. Now-seniors Chad Brears (3-12-15) and Jack Prince (5-9-14) round out the Chargers’ top returning scorers.

The backbone of the Chargers has been junior goaltender Carmine Guerriero, who posted one of the best seasons in UAH history. Guerriero posted a 2.56 goals against average ana .928 save percentage as he started 29 of UAH’s 38 games last year.

About the Huskies: Last season, UConn went 10-19-7 overall and 7-11-4 in Hockey East. The Huskies were expected to finish last in their new league after transferring from Atlantic Hockey, but UConn finished ninth. The Huskies lost to New Hampshire in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. Connecticut was picked to finish ninth again in the Hockey East coaches’ preseason poll.

The Huskies’ top returning scorer is senior Shaun Pauly, who had five goals and 15 assists for 20 points last season. Pauly is one of the few upperclassmen on the roster, as UConn has 18 sophomores and seven freshmen. One of those sophomores is Spencer Naas, who tallied 13 goals, including five game-winners, in 2014-15.

Between the pipes is junior Rob Nichols, who started 35 games last season with a 2.73 goals against average and .918 save percentage.

Connecticut has played an exhibition game last week, defeating Queens University 3-1.

UAH in season openers: The Chargers haven’t won a season-opening game since 2009, when UAH stunned No. 5 Notre Dame 3-2 in South Bend (also on Oct. 9). UAH is 11-17-2 all-time in openers, but 4-11-1 in the modern Division I era. UAH hasn’t won a home opener since 2008, but is 15-13-2 all-time starting at the VBC (6-9-1 in the modern Division I era).

Around the WCHA: All 10 teams are in action this weekend, with nine starting their regular season and Michigan Tech playing an exhibition.

All times Central. Games featuring WCHA teams at home can be seen on WCHA.tv.

Friday, Oct. 9
Connecticut at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State vs. #4 North Dakota, 3:30 p.m. (Ice Breaker at Portland, Maine)
#16 Bowling Green at Ohio State, 6 p.m.
Ferris State at Western Michigan, 6 p.m.
Northern Michigan at Wisconsin, 7 p.m.
#10 Omaha at #6 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at #2 Minnesota Duluth, 7:07 p.m.
St. Cloud State vs. Alaska, 8:07 p.m. (Kendall Hockey Classic at Anchorage)
Arizona State at Alaska Anchorage, 11:07 p.m. (Kendall Hockey Classic)
Laurentian at #15 Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m. (Exhibition)

Saturday, Oct. 10
Connecticut at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State vs. Michigan State, 3:30 p.m. (Ice Breaker at Portland, Maine)
Western Michigan at Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.
Ohio State at #16 Bowling Green, 6:37 p.m.
Northern Michigan at Wisconsin, 7 p.m.
#10 Omaha at #6 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
#2 Minnesota Duluth at Bemidji State, 7:07 p.m.
Arizona State vs. Alaska, 7:07 p.m. (Kendall Hockey Classic at Anchorage)
St. Cloud State at Alaska Anchorage, 10:07 p.m. (Kendall Hockey Classic)
Laurentian at #15 Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m. (Exhibition)

Hoof Beats: Chargers sport five jerseys, including ’96 throwbacks

The UAH locker room at the Von Braun Center, displaying the five sweaters the Chargers will wear this season.

The UAH locker room at the Von Braun Center, displaying the five sweaters the Chargers will wear this season. (Photo by UAH Athletics)

UAH revealed the jerseys the Chargers will wear in the 2015-16 season in a photo of their Von Braun Center locker room on Tuesday.

The Chargers will wear five different sweaters this season:

  • Home white: A couple of alterations were made to the white jerseys the Chargers wore the last two seasons. The shoulder yoke is now blue, and the blue stripe on the sleeve and waist is thicker.
  • Road blue: Unchanged.
  • Alternate gray: Unchanged.
  • Alternate black: Black version of the road sweater, with a blue shoulder yoke like  the one on the home white.
  • Throwback: For the first time in program history, the Chargers will wear throwback jerseys. These are the home whites to honor the 20th anniversary of the 1995-96 NCAA Division II national champions.

Michael’s opinion: The home whites look better simply because there is more blue, but I still think there’s too much black with “UAH” and the player number for my taste. I’m thrilled we still have the glorious road blues, because I don’t care much for the alternate blacks at all, although I bet I’m in the minority.

The 1996 Division II national champions. (Photo by UAH Athletics)

The 1996 Division II national champions. (Photo by UAH Athletics)

The throwbacks honoring the 1995-96 Chargers aren’t exact replicas. The throwbacks have the red stripe on the waste along the bottom of the sweater, whereas it was sandwiched between blue stripes in the original. The holes in the word “Alabama” were filled in with red 20 years ago, but not in the throwback (this is an improvement, in my opinion). Also, the number and “C”/”A” on the front suggest the throwback will have the same font as the other current jerseys, not the font from the original. Still, it’s great to see the effort to honor the undefeated national champions in this way. It should stir great memories for longtime UAH fans.

Guerriero on CHN’s All-America team: College Hockey News named UAH’s Carmine Guerriero to its preseason All-America team on Tuesday. The junior was selected as the second-team goaltender.

“Had a .927 save percentage last season while facing more shots per minute than any goaltender in the country. Edges out [Michigan Tech’s] Jamie Phillips and [Boston College’s] Thatcher Demko, who had offseason hip surgery and may miss the early part of the season.”

Chargers on TV: UAH’s home game with Alaska on Jan. 8 will be televised by American Sports Network, select affiliates of the Sinclair Networks Group and on several regional sports networks around the country.

The game is one of two WCHA contests ASN will broadcast as part of a deal to televise 30 college hockey games this season. The deal also includes Hockey East, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, and ECAC Hockey.

UAH announces team awards, captains at banquet

Last Wednesday night was the end of season banquet for the Chargers, who celebrated the strides made in the 2014-15 season and looked forward to the next step in the program’s growth.

Sophomore goaltender Carmine Guerriero was the team’s Most Valuable Player of the 2014-15 season. Guerriero had a .928 save percentage, fourth-best in UAH history, and a 2.56 goals against average, fifth-best in program history.

Defensive Player of the Year went to junior Frank Misuraca, who led UAH defensemen in goals with six goals. He was second among Chargers with 69 blocks.

After making the WCHA All-Rookie Team and leading the Chargers in scoring with 23 points, Max McHugh was an obvious choice for Freshman of the Year.

The Charger of the Year Award, which goes to the player who exemplifies what it means to be a UAH Charger, went to senior Craig Pierce. The Roswell, Ga., native became an alternate captain this season, scoring three goals in 28 games and battling a wrist injury.

Also announced were the 2015-16 captains. Junior Brent Fletcher will don the “C” for the Chargers next season, with seniors Frank Misuraca and Chad Brears being the alternate captains.

Press release from UAHChargers.com