Ferris State 2, UAH 1

It was a wintry night in Huntsville, with many roads closed after a crusting of ice fell atop already snowy lanes.  It was great hockey weather, but for the home fans, it wasn’t a great hockey result.  The visiting Ferris State Bulldogs (13-18-1, 10-13-0 WCHA) scored two quick first-period goals and held on thereafter, winning 2-1 over the homestanding UAH Chargers (8-19-4, 7-15-1 WCHA).

Both Bulldog goals came on poor defensive zone passes.  At 4:33 of the first, senior forward Dominic Panetta (Baldwin, Mich.) picked a puck off and skated in alone on UAH sophomore netminder Carmine Guerriero (Montréal, Qué.), potting a shorthanded goal.  Sophomore forward Chad McDonald (Battle Creek, Mich.) took a pass from freshman forward Tyler Andrew (Bethel Park, Pa.), who had just intercepted a puck in front of the UAH bench.

I expect that it’s no surprise that Michael and I have a backchannel during games.  Post-game, he commented, “Lost it in the first, didn’t win it in the 2nd and 3rd.”  He’s right.

The second period is notable only for its penalties.  An early UAH power play was nullified four seconds later by a holding minor.  Two penalties :07 apart by sophomore forward Cody Marooney (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and freshman defenseman Richard Buri (Nitra, Slovakia) left UAH killing a long 5×3 situation, which they did fairly easily, allowing just three shots-on-goal on the disadvantage.  UAH is still the #1 team in combined special teams.

A carry-over penalty from the 2nd period gave the Chargers 1:55 of a man advantage on clean ice.  The home squad would score, as freshman defenseman Cody Champagne (Brookfield, Conn.) took a feed from senior forward Alex Carpenter (Portage, Mich.) for a point shot that appeared to rattle around on bodies in front before going to the roof of the net past Ferris State senior goaltender CJ Motte (St. Clair, Mich.).  Sophomore defenseman Brandon Carlson (Huntington, Beach, Calif.) got the secondary assist.

Ferris State stymied UAH for the remainder of regulation time.  UAH pulled Guerriero (32 sv, 8-12-3) with 1:37 remaining, but the Bulldogs kept UAH to the outside and blocked shots.  Motte (18 sv) moves to 13-18-1 on the season.

The two teams face off again on Saturday night to conclude the season series, which the Bulldogs lead 2-1-0.

Series Preview: at Bemidji State, Jan. 9-10

CATCHING THE GAMES
Times: 7:37 p.m. Fri, 7:07 p.m. Sat
Online video: WCHA.tv (subscription)
Online audio: Beaver Radio Network
Live stats: Friday | Saturday
Twitter: @weloveuahhockey, @uahhockey, @BSUBeavers

Back at it. UAH vs. Bemidji State.

The Chargers begin the second half of the WCHA league schedule with a trip to their old rivals, the Bemidji State Beavers. Both teams are riding unbeaten streaks and look to use this series as a springboard up the conference standings.

Both games from the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minnesota, can be seen on WCHA.tv. Friday’s game begins at 7:37 p.m. Saturday’s game starts at 7:07 p.m.

All-time series: UAH and Bemidji State have played each other 74 times, the most of any opponent in Charger history, starting with the 1994 NCAA Division II championship. BSU leads the series 41-29-4 overall and 23-9-1 in Bemidji. Last season, the Beavers won both games in Huntsville in UAH’s first-ever WCHA series, but UAH stunned BSU in Bemidji 2-1 before losing 4-1 in the second game.

Chargers recap: UAH (5-14-3 overall, 4-10-0 WCHA) swept a two-game series with a Division I opponent for the first time since Jan. 29-30, 2010 with a pair of one-goal victories over Alaska-Anchorage at the Von Braun Center. The Chargers moved into eighth place in the WCHA standings with 8 points, one point behind Bemidji State.

On Friday, Max McHugh scored twice and Cody Marooney added another as UAH built a 3-0 lead. The Chargers held on to win 3-2.

On Saturday, Marooney got his second game-winning goal, breaking a 1-1 tie in the second period for a 2-1 UAH victory. Brandon Carlson scored the first goal for the Chargers.

Carmine Guerriero stopped 58 of 61 shots for the series, raising his save percentage to .934, which is 3rd in the WCHA and 9th in Division I. His goals against average dropped to 2.31.

McHugh has taken over the rookie lead in the WCHA with 15 points. Jeff Vanderlugt, Jack Prince, and Chad Brears each have 10 points. Brandon Parker added a couple of assists in the series to raise his team-leading total to nine.

UAH Tale of the tape
(WCHA rank)
BSU
5-14-3
4-10-0 WCHA (8th)
Record 5-10-3
3-6-3 WCHA (7th)
1.86 (9th) Goals/game 2.89 (5th)
3.00 (8th) Goals allowed/game 3.17 (9th)
16.5 (2nd) Pen. minutes/game 10.7 (8th)
18.8% (2nd) Power play 16.2% (7th)
83.9% (6th) Penalty kill 79.7% (9th)

About the Beavers: Bemidji State (5-10-3 overall, 3-6-3 WCHA) will see its first action in four weeks after a lengthy holiday break. The Beavers are unbeaten in five games (2-0-3), most recently winning and tying Northern Michigan at home on Dec. 12-13. BSU’s schedule has been tough, with the first seven series coming against ranked opponents.

The Beavers’ top scoring threat, Brendan Harms, was expected to be out 4-6 weeks after an injury caused by a hit against Alaska-Anchorage on Dec. 6. Sophomore center Nate Arentz has moved to the top of BSU’s scoring list with seven goals and 14 points. All-conference defenseman Matt Prapavessis leads the Beavers in assists with eight.

Then there are the Baby Geniuses/Super Babies: Gerry, Leo, and Myles Fitzgerald. The freshman triplet, Gerry (center), Myles (right wing), and Leo (left wing) have combined for eight goals and 23 points this season.

The Beavers have split goaltending duties with senior Andrew Walsh (2.85 goals against, .900 save percentage) and freshman Michael Bitzer (2.66, .897).

WCHA Standings Record Pts.
Minnesota State 11-2-1 23
Michigan Tech 10-2-0 20
Bowling Green 8-1-1 17
Alaska* 7-7-0 14
Northern Michigan 5-6-3 13
Ferris State 6-6-0 12
Bemidji State 3-6-3 9
Alabama-Huntsville 4-10-0 8
Lake Superior State 3-11-0 6
Alaska-Anchorage 2-6-2 6
* Ineligible for postseason play

Around the WCHA: All 10 teams are seeing conference action this week.

While UAH and Bemidji State are bringing unbeaten streaks into their series, the hottest teams in the WCHA are meeting in Bowling Green, Ohio. The Alaska Nanooks have won four straight, while the 11th-ranked Falcons are unbeaten in their last seven.

And UAH-Bemidji isn’t the only rivalry series this week. No. 8 Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan have a home-and-home, playing in Marquette on Friday and Houghton on Saturday.

Tech will be looking to gain ground on league-leader and 4th-ranked Minnesota State, which hosts Lake Superior State. Ferris State, looking to stop a four-game slide, finishes their two-week odyssey in Alaska with a Thursday-Friday series in Anchorage.

Here’s the schedule for league teams the next two weeks. All times are Central. Games involving WCHA teams at home can be seen online on WCHA TV.

Thursday, January 8

* Ferris State at Alaska-Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.

Friday, January 9

* UAH at Bemidji State, 7:37 p.m.
* Alaska at #11 Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.
* #8 Michigan Tech at Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
* Lake Superior State at #4 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
* Ferris State at Alaska-Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.

Saturday, January 10

* UAH at Bemidji State, 7:07 p.m.
* Alaska at #11 Bowling Green, 6:07 p.m.
* Northern Michigan at #8 Michigan Tech, 6:37 p.m.
* Lake Superior State at #4 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.

* WCHA conference game

Hoof Beats: Marooney, McHugh earn WCHA weekly honors

Cody Marooney

Cody Marooney (Photo by Chris Brightwell)

Two Chargers earned WCHA weekly awards Monday for their contributions to UAH’s sweep of Alaska-Anchorage over the weekend.

Cody Marooney was named UAH’s first WCHA Offensive Player of the Week after scoring both game-winning goals. His goal on Friday gave UAH a 3-0 lead early in the second period, and the Chargers held on to win 3-2. On Saturday, his goal at 12:50 of the second period broke a 1-1 tie en route to a 2-1 Charger victory.

The two goals raised Marooney’s season total to three. The sophomore from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, has played in all 60 UAH games the past two seasons.

The WCHA Rookie of the Week is Max McHugh, who had a three-point weekend. The freshman from Seattle scored the Chargers’ first two goals in the first period in Friday’s win, and pitched in an assist in UAH’s first goal on Saturday. He is the third Charger to win the award, following Matt Larose last season and Brennan Saulnier back in November.

McHugh has 15 points on the season, already the highest single-season total in the past four years. He leads all WCHA rookies in points is tied for 11th overall.

CG35 stays strong: Goaltender Carmine Guerriero just missed on the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week (again — he’s been nominated SEVEN times this season), but he had another good week between the pipes. Guerriero stopped 58 of 61 shots combined as his record rose to 5-8-2 on the season.

Guerriero’s goals against average dropped to 2.31, and his save percentage rose to .934. His save percentage is now third best in the WCHA and tied for ninth in all of Division I.

Maybe it’ll stick.

Around the WCHA: No. 13 Bowling Green got to play outside on Saturday, hosting No. 19 Robert Morris at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, home of the Mud Hens and the Detroit Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate. There was concern that the rainy weather would delay or cancel the game, but the teams played to a 2-2 tie. Bowling Green won the second game at Robert Morris on Sunday, and moved up to No. 11 Monday in this week’s USCHO.com poll.

No. 5 Michigan Tech went to Madison to play a struggling Wisconsin team, and blew out the one-win Badgers on Friday, 8-1. But the Badgers got that second win on Saturday, stunning the Huskies 2-o despite being outshot 47-19. Tech dropped three spots to No. 8.

While Tech was playing a non-conference series, Minnesota State moved into sole possession of first place in the WCHA with a three-point weekend at Northern Michigan. The Mavericks cruised to a 4-1 win on Friday, but just managed a 2-2 tie on Saturday. Minnesota State is now ranked fourth in the poll.

Ferris State struggled in its first weekend in Alaska, getting swept by the Nanooks. Alaska got the game-winner Friday with 5:32 to win 2-1, and rolled FSU goaltender C.J. Motte and the Bulldogs on Saturday, 6-0. Alaska goalie Davis Jones notched his fourth shutout.

Shake it off: We end this edition of Hoof Beats with some silliness, courtesy of the UAH Blue Crew and all Charger athletes. You’re welcome.

UAH gets the sweep! Chargers top Seawolves, 2-1

Sweep!

Oh man, it’s been a while since we could say that. We knew the boys had it in them to defend home ice for a full weekend, and they did it.

UAH took both games of a two-game series against a Division I opponent for the first time in nearly five years, beating Alaska-Anchorage 2-1 on Saturday night at the Von Braun Center. The Chargers won 3-2 on Friday night. It’s UAH’s first-ever sweep of a WCHA series.

The last time the Chargers did that was January 29-30, 2010, in a College Hockey America series against Niagara at the VBC.

The Chargers (5-14-3 overall, 4-10-0 WCHA) moved into sole possession of eighth place in the WCHA standings with eight points, two ahead of UAA (5-9-4, 2-8-2 WCHA) and idle Lake Superior State. UAH is one point behind seventh-place Bemidji State, which will host the Chargers next weekend (Jan. 9-10).

Carmine Guerriero had another big game, stopping 26 of 27 shots. The lone goal allowed came in the first to give UAA the early lead, but UAH scored two nice second-period goals to win a second straight game.

UAH actually had more scoring chances in the first period, but it only took one mistake to get down early. Austin Azurdia stole the puck in the UAA zone and started a two-on-one break. He kept the puck himself and beat Guerriero to give the Seawolves a 1-0 lead 6:28 into the contest on their first shot on goal.

While there was many hits on both sides during the first period, the only two penalties were slashing calls against the Chargers, one on Graeme Strukoff and another on Craig Pierce.

Despite all that, UAH outshot UAA 8-4 in the first period. But the Chargers broke out in the second period.

Near the halfway point, UAA’s Austin Coldwell cross-checked Regan Soquila. On the ensuing power play, Brandon Carlson, from the slot, redirected a Brandon Parker blast past Jared D’Amico to tie the game at 1-1 with 9:10 left. It was Carlson’s fourth goal of the season, with Parker and Max McHugh picking up assists.

Just two minutes later, Cody Marooney gets his third goal of the season to put the Chargers up front at 2-1. Marooney followed up on a big rebound from a shot off the stick of Jeff Vanderlugt, who got his fifth assist. Parker also helped for his team-leading ninth assist.

Parker’s two assists on the night earned him the first star of the game.

The Seawolves tried to get as much rubber on Guerriero as they could early in the third, notching the first five shots on goal — some on the power play after a Frank Misuraca holding penalty. UAA had 16 of their 28 shots on goal in the final frame, and Guerriero had to make key saves during the final minutes.

Anchorage’s last gasp was in the final 1:18, when D’Amico was pulled for the extra attacker and, with 45 seconds remaining, the Chargers were penalized for too many men on the ice. Guerriero came up big with two saves during UAA’s 6-on-4 situation in the waning moments.

After UAH visits Bemidji State next weekend, the Chargers return home to host Northern Michigan on Jan. 16-17.

Notes: Announced attendance was 2,143. … Max McHugh’s seven goals and 15 points lead all WCHA freshmen. … The Chargers have allowed at least one goal in 150 straight games. UAH’s last shutout was a 1-0 win over Robert Morris on March 12, 2010 in the CHA semifinals. The goaltender was current New York Rangers netminder Cam Talbot. … UAH’s last two-game sweep was actually in Dec. 2012, but that was against Division III Finlandia at the VBC. … The Seawolves have yet to win a road game this season (0-7-1).

UAH 3, UAA 2

UAH (4-14-3, 3-10-0 WCHA) took an early lead on the strength of two first-period goals by freshman forward Max McHugh (Seattle, Wash.), followed by a marker from sophomore forward Cody Marooney (Eden Prairie, Minn.) just 2:03 into the second frame.  From there, the Chargers held on for a 3-2 victory over Alaska-Anchorage (5-8-4, 2-7-2 WCHA), points which moved them out of the basement in the WCHA standings.  (It’s a league game, Smokey.)

McHugh got things started early, taking a drop feed from junior forward Chad Brears (Cold Lake, Alb.) and rifling the puck home past Anchorage freshman goaltender Olivier Mantha (La Tuque, Qué.) just 3:59 into the game.  Freshman defenseman Cody Champagne (Brookfield, Conn.) picked up the secondary assist.

McHugh dented the twine with just :32 left in the first period, when a centering feed from junior forward Jack Prince (Leicester, England) found the freshman with time and space at the top of the circles.  He ripped one through and past Mantha (17 sv) for his seventh goal of the season.  The secondary assist went to Brears.

Let’s stop here for a point that Michael made to me in a text: with 7-7—14, McHugh has already eclipsed the season scoring leaders for 2011-12 (Kyle Lysaght with 13), 2012-13 (then-sophomore forward Jeff Vanderlugt [Richmond Hill, Ont.] with 11), and 2013-14 (Prince with 13).  McHugh looks to be the first Charger to record double-digit goals since Matt Sweazey (Toronto) in 2008-09.  Max McCutie, we’re on the way back because guys like you are giving us a shot.

Marooney muscled the puck past Mantha (4-6-3) after junior defenseman Frank Misuraca (Clinton Township, Mich.) fired up a Misurocket™ and into the Seawolf crease.  Marooney’s goal was his second of the year.  Vanderlugt got the secondary assist.

From there, it was just hanging in there.  The Seawolves cut the lead to two on a power-play goal by senior forward Scott Allen (Edmonton, Alb.), who was assisted by freshman forward Tad Kozun (Nipawin, Sask.) and junior defenseman Blake Leask (Edmonton, Alb.).  The marker ended a shutout by UAH sophomore goaltender Carmine Guerriero (Montréal, Qué.), who had 31 saves overall.

Kozun narrowed the margin to one when sophomore forward Brad Duwe (Solodotna, Alaska) fed him the puck after dekeing a Charger out of position.  Kozun’s shot rang the post on the way past Guerriero, who moved to 4-8-2 on the season.

The Chargers would hold on thereafter, as they were outshot 10-5 by the Seawolves in the final frame.  Worse still for the home squad, freshman defenseman Brandon Parker (Faribault, Minn.) was called for tripping at 16:32, and Prince was whistled for slashing at 19:33.  Mantha was out of the net for the final 2:10 of the game, but Guerriero closed all of the doors that his teammates didn’t.

This wasn’t a statement win for UAH — that would’ve been taking a 3-0 or 4-0 lead into the second intermission.  But this was UAH proving to itself that it could open up a big lead, play with fire, and pull it back in.  While last year’s UAH team, bereft of offense, would’ve never opened up a three-goal lead on an opponent, that team also would’ve likely not been able to hold it.  This team did, though — the lessons of Colorado Springs were learned.

The Chargers and Seawolves are back at it at 7:07 p.m. Central Standard Time in Huntsville.  Michael Napier will have coverage, and woe betide if you’re stuck watching the UAH broadcast on WCHA TV.  (More on that next week.)