Today in Charger Hockey History: 1998 NCAA Division II National Championship

Revenge. It’s the driving force behind any rivalry.

And so it was with UAH and Bemidji State. The Beavers took the NCAA Division II championship from the Chargers in sudden death overtime in 1994. UAH got even with a convincing sweep in 1996.

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The Huntsville Times sports section, March 15, 1998.

The Beavers took the 1997 title with a sweep in Bemidji. Naturally, it was UAH’s turn.

“We don’t like each other,” Darren Awender told The Huntsville Times. “It‘s a rivalry, simple as that.”

Fifteen years ago, on March 14, 1998, the Chargers got revenge. Again.

And it cemented UAH-Bemidji as one of the hottest rivalries in college hockey, despite the approximately 1,200 miles between the schools.

The Chargers won the 1998 NCAA Division II national championship with 6-2 and 5-2 wins over the Beavers. UAH finished the season with a 24-3-3 record.

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Cedrick Billequey, Marc Lalonde, and Jim Alauria clamp down during Game 1. (Photo by Robin Conn of The Huntsville Times)

It appeared things were going UAH‘s way early in the first game. Bemidji’s Marc LeFleur had UAH goalie Cedric Billequey down with 40 seconds left in the first period, when defenseman Tim McAllister flew into the crease and blocked LeFleur’s shot to keep the game scoreless.

From there, the Chargers took command with three goals in the second and three more in the third. Mark Motowski netted two goals, with Colin Schmidt, Ryan Stewart, Mike Hamlin, and co-captain John McCabe also scoring.

With the game in hand, tempers flared. Twenty-four players were called for penalties between the teams, including a game misconduct penalty on BSU’s Bruce Matatall for butt-ending Stewart.

Bemidji opened the scoring in Game 2, but Ryan Gavigan’s deflection of a McAllister shot from just inside the blue line snuck past BSU goalie Neil Cooper to tie the game at 1.

Ryan Stewart then blew the doors off Bemidji and UAH didn’t look back. His blast from the far circle with 3:16 of the second period hit Cooper’s pad, trickled past him, and broke a 1-1 tie.

Schmidt made it 3-1 two minutes later when he buried a Ryan McCormack pass from behind the goal line. Jay Woodcroft and McCabe’s power-play goals in the third put the game out of reach. Billequey’s 30 saves made it stand.

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Ryan Stewart holds up the trophy and acknowledges the crowd as the Chargers celebrate their second NCAA championship. (Photo by Robin Conn of The Huntsville Times)

The end of the championship was marred by one final scuffle. Shane Stewart had the puck alone behind the UAH net as the final seconds were counted down, ready for the celebration, when BSU’s Jim Logan checked into Stewart. The Chargers retaliated and a fracas ensued.

Call it the heat of the moment, but the incident led to harsh words on live TV by McCabe: “We’re 20 times the team that team is down there, and showed it both nights.

“They can’t carry our skates and they’re going Division I? They’re brutal. See you, Bemidji!”

Bemidji State would announce a move to Division I in May of 1998. UAH followed a month later, ending the head-to-head series in Division II at two championships apiece. After a year as independents, the schools would continue the rivalry as charter members of College Hockey America.

But on that night, the Chargers got the best of the Beavers again.

Huntsville native Matt Parker, who was a senior this go around, told The Huntsville Times: “This was my second championship, and it was just as good.”

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Back row: Coach Mike Quenneville, Dwayne Blais, Ryan Gavigan, Mike Hamlin, Coach A.J. Baker, Ryan McCormack, Tim McAllister, Tom Williams, Dr. Michael Linder. Middle row: Coach Lance West, Robert Cross (equipment), Jay Woodcroft, Jamie Baby, Joe Provenzano, Shane Stewart, Marc Lalonde, Mark Motowski, Dave Marcelli, Nathan Bowen, Colin Schmidt, Derek Young, Ryan Stewart, Trainer Theresa Brooks, Trainer Jeff Kinard. Front row: Cedrick Billequey, Paul Schloss, Matt Parker, John McCabe, Coach Doug Ross, Jim Alauria, Jason Mucciarone, Darren Awender, Steve Briere.

Today in Charger Hockey History: 1983 National Club Championship

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the first hockey championship moment in Huntsville, and perhaps the oddest game-winning goal in Charger history.

On March 5, 1983, the University of Alabama in Huntsville defeated Penn State 5-4 to win the U.S. National Club Ice Hockey Championship in front of 4,234 fans at the Von Braun (Civic) Center.

uahhockey_1982-1983_teamphotoBob Quaille’s goal — a trickler down the goalie’s arm and across the line — with two minutes left in the third period broke the tie and set off the first big hockey celebration in the Rocket City. It was the Chargers’ second straight national club championship, the 1982 title earned in Boulder, Colorado.

It also kick-started the legacy of Doug Ross, who was in his first season as UAH head coach after taking over for program founder Joe Ritch.

The 1982-83 season started inauspiciously, with a loss and a tie at Iowa State. UAH then won four straight before falling twice to those pesky Cyclones at home.

The Chargers then reeled off nine straight wins as they started rolling over Central States Collegiate Hockey League competition. Eleven Chargers scored double-figures in goals, led by Brian Kelly’s 38 goals and 80 points, as UAH finished 27-6-2 on the season.

UAH was a perfect 13-0 in conference play, but would lose to Marquette 5-4 in overtime at home in the league championship game.

uahhockey_1983champprogramNo matter. UAH was the host of the United States National Club Ice Hockey Tournament. The Chargers easily dispatched their South bracket opponents: 16-2 over Auburn and 7-4 over Arizona. The championship would be against Penn State, which beat Ohio 5-4 and tournament favorite Miami (Ohio) 5-1 in the North bracket.

The Chargers dominated possession the first period thanks to four power play chances leading to a 16-3 shots advantage, but it was Penn State who had the lead after scoring just 1:57 into the game.

The second period saw the offenses crank up. The Nittany Lions made it 2-0 on another early-period goal, but UAH came roaring back to take the lead with three goals in a span of 3:22. Andre Gilbert got the Chargers on the board at 7:17. Kevin Monaco tied the game up at the 9:38, and Bobby MacQuisten broke the tie one minute later.

Things got chippy in the middle of the period, and Penn State took advantage of a two-man power play to tie the game at 3. Quaille, who was second on the team that season with 34 goals and 63 points, regained the lead for the Chargers heading into the third.

With the title on the line, the refs then put the whistles away for most of the final frame. PSU tied the game at 4 at the 11:24 mark, which set the stage for the final drama and Quaille’s winner.

Here’s how longtime UAH fan and eyewitness Terry Long described it:

With little time left in regulation, the Penn State goalie [John Davis] had played an amazing game even though he had surrendered four goals. Then, he gets hit in the chest with a wicked shot that rolls down his left arm, off his glove, onto the ice, across the line, and into the corner of the goal. It was almost in slow motion like in a movie.

No matter how it happened, it still goes down in the box score as the championship-winning goal at 18:00 of the third period.

UAH would win the championship again at the VBCC in 1984, and just miss a fourth straight title in 1985. UAH joined the varsity ranks and the NCAA, winning Division II championships at home in 1996 and 1998. But on that night 30 years ago, Huntsville learned how to host a championship party.

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Old-school box score. Special thanks to Joey Daniels and the UAH Sports Information office. For the Penn State perspective, check out this write-up in Thank You Terry.

Penn State 1 2 1 -- 4
UAH        0 4 1 -- 5 

  First period -- 1, Penn State, Art McQuillan (Nick Pappas, 
Clark Dexter), 1:57. 
  Penalties -- Clark Dexter, PSU (elbowing), 5:25. Jeff Legay, 
PSU (high sticking), 11:41. Dave Hornack, PSU (roughing), 13:23. 
John Holland, PSU (roughing), 13:23. Bobby MacQuisten, UAH 
(roughing), 13:23. Kevin Mills, UAH (roughing), 13:23. Joe 
Grainda, PSU (delay of game), 16:06. Glenn DeStefano, PSU 
(hooking), 19:16. 

  Second period -- 2, Penn State, Joe Grainda (Mike Blackwell), 
2:16. 3, UAH, Andre Gilbert (Brian Butcher, Frank Heller), 7:17. 
4, UAH, Kevin Monaco (Bob Quaille), 9:38. 5, UAH, Bobby 
MacQuisten (Brian Kelly, Kevin Mills), 10:38. 6, Penn State, 
Brad Rush (Norm Jacobs, Clark Dexter), 11:14 (pp). 7, UAH, Bob 
Quaille (Daniel Dorothy), 14:41 (pp). 
  Penalties -- Craig Whitacre, UAH (holding), 2:48. Bobby 
MacQuisten, UAH (slashing), 3:33. Will Hereford, UAH (hooking), 
10:59. Bob Quaille, UAH (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:59. Art 
McQuillan, PSU (interference), 12:09. Steve Moerner, UAH 
(slashing), 12:09. Frank Heller, UAH (roughing), 14:10. Brad 
Rush, PSU (roughing), 14:10. Daniel Dorothy, UAH (roughing), 
16:21. Kevin Mills, UAH (interference), 17:01. Norm Jacobs, UAH 
(slashing), 18:21. Daniel Dorothy, UAH (hitting from behind), 
19:22. 

  Third period -- 8, Penn State, Brad Rush (Norm Jacobs), 11:24 
(pp). 9, UAH, Bob Quaille (Daniel Dorothy), 18:00. 
  Penalties -- Andre Gilbert, UAH (hooking), :23. Nick Pappas, 
PSU (boarding), 7:27. Brian Kelly, UAH (hooking), 9:30. 

  Shots on goal -- Penn State 3-20-11 34. UAH 16-14-9 39. 
  Goalies -- Penn State, John Davis (39 shots, 34 saves). UAH, 
Steve Moerner (34, 30).
  Penalties -- Penn State, 10-23. UAH, 13-26. 
  Power plays -- Penn State 2-7, UAH 1-6.   
  A -- 4,324. Referee -- Doug Wilson.