UAH 10, UAT 0

It was more than a little bit “same song, second verse” on Sunday afternoon at the VBC. After a 12-1 rout on Saturday night, the Chargers came out and shut out the Frozen Tide, 10-0.

It took the boys a little while to get started on the goal column, even though they were working Coach K2‘s system pretty hard. Jack Prince (London, England) kicked the scoring off with an unassisted goal, leading a barrage of five goals in 3:13. Following Prince were Doug Reid (Innisfill, Ont.) from Craig Pierce (Roswell, Ga.) and Stephen Hickey (Ancaster, Ont.), Pierce from Reid and Mat Hagen (Ottawa, Ont.), Prince unassisted, and Tyler Kotlarz (Hudsonville, Mich.) unassisted. Reid and Pierce’s goals came in such quick succession that PA announcer Taylor Flatt was unable to get Reid announced before Pierce scored.

The second period was another slow start for goal scoring before Hickey scored at 12:47 on an assist from Pierce. Prince picked up his hat trick at 14:55 on assists from Kotlarz and Michael Webley (Stittsville, Ont.). The Frozen Tide held the Chargers to just nine shots on goal while making five of their own count. Junior netminder CJ Groh (Cincinnati, Ohio), having not seen a shot in the first frame, stopped all five.

Scoring in the third was a little more spread out. Hickey scored at 7:14 on assists from Chad Brears (Cold Lake, Alta.) and Reid. The final Charger goals came 18 seconds apart: Kotlarz from Prince at 12:45, then Webley from Hagen at 13:03. Freshman goaltender Gregg Gruehl (Dublin, Ohio) saw just one shot in the final frame. On the weekend, the Chargers outshot the Frozen Tide 108-11.

Coach Ken Kleinendorst was happy after the game. “We tried to work on some things that will help us move forward.” When asked how the team is progressing, Kleinendorst, said, “I think so. I think that we definitely have the bodies to put together to put a pretty solid lineup on Friday night [against Mankato]. I’m getting a good feel for the guys, but I still need a better feel.”

When asked about the start to his career, Prince said, “It’s been a long wait. It’s hard to watch junior teams get ready to play and have to wait longer.” He was happy to have the opportunity to get to know his teammates’ tendencies on the ice, saying, “It was nice for us freshman. We got to see what everyone else was going to be doing. It helped us play along. We sorta know where to be based on watching video, but when you get into a game situation, it’s different. It was nice to have two games where to figure out where to be at the right time.” Asked about the speed of the college game, he said, “It’s a big step up from juniors. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

The Chargers have four days of rest and practice before facing Minnesota State University, Mankato on Friday night at Propst Arena at the Von Braun Center. Tickets at all levels of the arena are FREE, so please come out and support your Chargers and bring all of your friends (and some of your enemies).

Quick Hits

Have a great rest of the week, and be sure to come out to the game on Friday night! It’s free, you know.

UAH 12, UAT 1

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Less than a year after retired UASystem chancellor Mack Portera relegated the program to club status after February 2012, and ten months to the day that UAH President Dr. Robert Altenkirch extended the varsity life of the program for the forseeable future, it just so happened that a team from Big Bad UAT would come to Huntsville to try and beat up on Little Sister UAH.

While the Chargers and Crimson Tide have tangled a little of late—men’s basketball has held their own in exhibition games each of the last two seasons, after which the Chargers would progress to the Division II Elite Eight—this was Huntsville’s chance to shine brightly, with UA’s Frozen Tide club team coming to play the varsity Chargers. It was the one-sided contest that everyone expected it to be; I’d joked for a good three weeks that it would be Alabama (+6.5) on the road, just to see if football fans noticed. Saturday night’s game would prove to be a 12-1 stampede of the sort that Nick Saban would appreciate.

With Kurt Kleinendorst still in his first month as UAH’s head coach, everyone was excited to see what would transpire. K2‘s charges scored early and often. Nashville’s Sebastian Geoffrion lit the lamp with just :30 gone with a back-hand shot between Sean Vinson’s pads. Atlanta’s Kyle Lysaght followed his linemate’s lead, scoring the first of his five goals just 2:17 later.

“I saw a lot of things that I liked,” Kleinendorst said. “We’ve only been together a little while, and we did some good things. We did some things that we’re going to have to find a way to do better. … It’s a win. We’ll take it, but I don’t want to get carried away with it.”

The Chargers kept building momentum, with goals from Lysaght and Curtis deBruyn (Calgary, Alb.) followed by shorthanded goals from Nashville’s Brice Geoffrion and Lysaght. From there, the Chargers cruised to victory. Freshman Chad Brears (Cold Lake, Alb.) scored twice, freshman Steve Koshey (Trail, BC) scored once, and junior Alex Allan (Calgary, Alb.) scored late in the second after knocking a guy through the corner door in the first period. The three stars of the game were deBruyn (1-3–4), Justin Cseter (Menomonie, Wis.) (0-4–4) and Lysaght (5-0–5).

Neither Charger netminder saw much work in the game. Freshman Gregg Gruehl (Dublin, Ohio) got the win, seeing only three shots on goal in two period, all in the second. Junior CJ Groh (Cincinnati, Ohio) saw one shot on goal in his 20:00 of action.

Alabama coach Mike Quenneville (UAH ’90) was clearly excited about the opportunity that playing the Chargers presents to his team. “We preach stuff every day, and when we get an opportunity to play a team that does everything so right, and have got the speed, it’s going to make us a better hockey team.”

Alabama scored midway through the second period, as 5’4″ Huntsville native Mark Wysock, an aerospace engineering student in Tuscaloosa found open space in the slot to push in a tumbling rebound for a power-play goal.

Kleinendorst seemed happy with his team’s effort. “For the most part, the guys went out and executed the plan that we’ve put in place up to this point. This is not about winning. This is about the process. When you play the game the right way, when you work your way through the process, winning is a by-product of that.”

The teams play the second game of the series at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, and Quenneville is ready to see his team face the challenge. “[The Alabama players] are going to get faster, they’re going to be smarter, they’re going to move the puck quicker. We’re definitely going to get better for this experience.”


Your 2010-11 Chargers: The Goalies

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that Cam Talbot is now playing professionally, having given up his final season of eligibility. This comes as no surprise to anyone around the program. Talbie, thanks for three great years. We will be watching your professional development. Blake MacNicol’s eligibility is up.

Where does that leave the Charger netminding staff? Here’s your answer:

The Incumbent

#31 Johnny Griggs

Photo credit: Doug Eagan

Johnny Griggs may not have seen any game time on the ice for the Chargers in 2009-10, but he does have a year of coaching under his belt, knows the defense that will be in front of him, and knows what the coaching staff expects of him. Also, it’s not like he was a slouch of a goalie in juniors: Johnny was third in Goals-Against Average in the Central Junior Hockey League (ON) in 2008-09, with an .898 save percentage. While Johnny is listed as a product of the Cumberland Grads, a check of his player card indicates that he was playing for the league’s power, the Pembroke Lumber Kings. When I look at the 2008-09 stats for the Lumber Kings, I see that Johnny was the better goalie in their season-starting tandem: 15-4-1, 5 SO, 2.09GAA, .913SV%. There’s obviously a difficulty adjustment between Junior A and NCAA Division I—just go look at Talbie’s stats as a freshman—but I think Johnny has the capacity to be a solid goaltender for the Chargers next year.

The New Guys

#32 CJ Groh

Photo credit: Geof F. Morris

CJ Groh committed to UAH on Tax Day in 2009 for this upcoming season. A ’90 goalie from Cincinnati, Ohio, CJ bounced around a little bit in juniors this year. CJ signed while being with the NAHL’s Springfield Jr Blues, where he had excellent statistics: 6W-6L-4OTL, 1 SO, 2.66 GAA, .918 SV% this year, 15W-15L-3OTL, 4SO, 2.62 GAA, .917 SV% in 2008-09. In the 2009 NAHL playoffs, he did yeoman’s work in keeping his team in games: 1-3, 2.09 GAA, .947 SV%. That’s all you can ask of a kid, right?

Now, it’s easy to look at his 2009-10 stats with the USHL’s Waterloo Blackhawks—3W-5L-2OTL, 1 SO, 4.14GAA, .876 SV%—and go, “Oi … he took a step back at a higher level of competition.” But a scout sent us the following, from a much longer email that was quite effusive in its praise of CJ:

In Waterloo, if you take out his first and last games then his stats were pretty good, better then 5 or 6 #1s on other teams. His first game within 24 hours of him being traded up to Waterloo – arrived in Waterloo midnight on Thursday, boarded bus next morning at 8am and played that night without benefit of any practices. Last game came vs. a very hot USA U18 team that simply blasted Waterloo (both goalies allowed 5 goals in half game played). Waterloo had opportunity to pick up a young (92) goalie at the trade deadline so CJ was the odd man out – not as much because of performance but they knew he was going to school in the fall and they had a chance to get a kid for next year as well. But they purposely sent him to St Louis (and not back to Springfield) because they knew St Louis has legitimate shot at Tier II National title (3 time defending champs) and they have a goalie coach who would work them daily – something not even Waterloo could offer. His numbers since joining St. Louis have been very good.

So, let’s look at his body of work as a starting goalie in Waterloo: blown out in his debut [where it seemed that there were extenuating circumstances], an overtime loss where he saved 41-of-45, an overtime win where he stopped 31-of-34, an overtime loss where he stopped 31-of-35, two straight wins, including a shutout, and two losses where his team scored one goal for him. I look at that body of work and think, “That’s really no different than anything we saw Cam or Blake struggle with in 2007-08 or 2008-09.” Then, yes, CJ got traded back to the NAHL, this time to the St. Louis Bandits. CJ’s stats in St. Louis were excellent: 5W-1L-1OTL, 1 SO, 1.98 GAA, .910 SV%.

So don’t look at those Waterloo stats and freak out.

#33 Clarke Saunders

Photo credit: Doug Eagan

Clarke will play at University of Alabama – Huntsville

Third year Goaltender Clarke Saunders has accepted a NCAA DIV I athletic scholarship to the University Of Alabama- Huntsville located in Huntsville Alabama.

Clarke is a native of Brockville Ontario, he has been the Braves starter for three seasons, compiling a number of Individual records as well as backstopping a majority of the Braves League record 26 game winning streak. Saunders holds the Braves Career Records for Most Wins – 81, Lowest Goals Against Average – 2.71 Best Save % – .915 and single season Records for Most Wins – 31(09-10), also 2nd most wins – 29 (07-08), Lowest GAA – 2.31, Best Save % – .900 and is tied for Most Shutouts – 3.

After playing a large part in the Braves record breaking season and competing in the Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian Championships, Clarke will join the Huntsville Chargers in the fall.

Clarke committed to UAH in April. He’s not the first Brockville Brave to don the Blue and White: he’s third behind Jason Hawes and Brennan Barker, who finished his junior career with the Penticton Vees. Sadly, not long after he committed, he hurt his knee:

In practice on Monday, Saunders just fell to the ice in trying to make a save. He went into the dressing room and two players had to carry him back out onto the ice for the team photo.

“I just went to make a sliding save and felt a lot of pain and I couldn’t really get up,” said Saunders in recalling the play.

It’s diagnosed as a tear in the cartilage in his right knee and it’s going to take a week or two to determine if it will heal from rest or will require surgery.

“I feel terrible for Clarkie. It’s his last year and he has this opportunity (Fred Page Cup) and an injury stops him from playing,” said Gill.

How It Will Play Out

I’ve watched practice a few times in the past few weeks, and all three goaltenders are getting ice time. It seems that Groh and Saunders get a skosh more time than Griggs, but it’s not a certainty at this point. I fully expect that the three will all see ice time early until one of them pulls ahead of the others with game performance.

Note: this post originally appeared on in April. It has been slightly modified for our use here.