Alaska nips UAH in OT to sweep final home series

Colton Parayko’s goal 15 seconds into overtime gave Alaska a 4-3 win on Saturday, completing a two-game sweep over the Chargers and delaying UAH’s playoff clinching a little while longer.

UAH (8-22-4 overall, 7-18-1 WCHA) still has not clinched a WCHA playoff berth going into the final week of the regular season. The Chargers either need a win or tie at Bowling Green or Alaska-Anchorage to either lose or tie against Alaska.

Alaska, ineligible for the postseason, improved to 17-13-2 overall and 12-12-2 in the WCHA.

Before the game, UAH’s five seniors —  Craig Pierce, Ben Reinhardt, Doug Reid, Graeme Strukoff, and Jeff Vanderlugt — were honored for the contributions to the program. All five seniors started, and it didn’t take long to make an impact.

The captain Reid shot one from the left circle, hit the post and past Alaska goaltender Sean Cahill just 20 seconds in to give UAH a 1-0 lead. It was Reid’s third goal of the season, assisted by Jeff Vanderlugt.

Alaska would capitalize on power plays to take the lead. The Nanooks’ leading scorer, Tyler Morley, backhanded a rebound past Carmine Guerriero after a Ben Reinhardt tripping penalty to tie the game at 1-1 with 8:02 left in the first.

Brennan Saulnier’s elbowing call with 3:38 left in the first put UAH shorthanded again, and it took Colton Parayko just 12 seconds to rip one through traffic give Alaska a 2-1 lead.

The Chargers quickly equalized the game thanks to their own leading scorer. Max McHugh notched his ninth goal of his freshman campaign with a shot from the top of the circle just 49 seconds after Parayko’s tally. Frank Misuraca got the assist.

The first period would end at a 2-2 tie, but Alaska continued its shots dominance from Friday with a 17-7 advantage.

McHugh struck again at 6:37 of the second, deflecting a Frank Misuraca spot from the right point, sneaking the puck past Cahill’s right as UAH retook the lead at 3-2. With his 10th goal, McHugh became the first Charger with double-digit goals since Matt Sweazey had 12 in the 2008-09 season. Misuraca and Reinhardt got the assists.

Alaska re-tied the game at 3-3 just before the second intermission. Trevor Campbell’s shot through traffic found its way past Guerriero with 6.3 seconds left in the second period.

The third period went by quickly with no goals and no penalties. Then came overtime, and Parayko’s blast from the right point.

Alaska outshot the Chargers 41-19. Carmine Guerriero stopped 37 shots for UAH, while Cahill made 16 saves.

UAH will finish the regular season next weekend at Bowling Green.

Series Preview: vs. Alaska, Feb. 27-28

CATCHING THE GAMES
Times: 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Tickets: Ticketmaster: Friday | Saturday
Complete ticket information
Promotions: Kids 12 & under get free admission
Fri.: UAH trading cards to first 500
Sat.: Mini shuttles to first 500
Online video: WCHA.tv (subscription)
Live stats: UAHChargers.com
Twitter: @weloveuahhockey, @uahhockey, @Alaska_Hockey

Three points. That’s the magic number for the Chargers as they host Alaska this weekend as a WCHA playoff berth is in sight. Puck drop is at 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights in the Chargers’ final home games of the season.

A minimum of a win and a tie puts UAH in the WCHA playoffs for the first time. Consequently, a loss and a tie for Alaska-Anchorage against Bowling Green also does the trick, or any combination of points for UAH and points against UAA totaling three.

Friday night, the first 500 fans receive a set of UAH hockey trading cards. Saturday night is Senior Night, and the first 500 fans receive a free mini space shuttle courtesy of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Kids 12 and under get in free to both games, courtesy Huntsville International Airport.

All-time series: The Chargers are 6-16-1 all-time against the Nanooks, and 3-4-1 in Huntsville. Alaska has won the last eight meetings, with UAH’s last victory coming on Jan. 11, 1992 — when Alaska forfeited a 8-3 win for using an ineligible player. The Chargers last “true” win came the day before, 6-1, at the Von Braun Center.

The two teams met in Fairbanks earlier this season, with the Nanooks taking both games: 2-1 in overtime and 4-0.

Jeff Vanderlugt

Jeff Vanderlugt scored his sixth goal of the season against Ferris State. (Photo by Chris Brightwell)

Charger recap: UAH (8-20-4 overall, 7-16-1 WCHA) lost a pair of one-goal games at home to Ferris State.

On Friday, Ferris State dominated the first period with two goals. Code Champagne’s goal early in the third period gave UAH life, but the Chargers ultimately fell 2-1 in front of a sparse crowd thanks to snow and ice in Huntsville.

The attendance was better Saturday as the snow melted, and so was UAH’s start, as Jeff Vanderlugt put the Chargers on the board first. But the Bulldogs answered with three straight goals and held on for a 3-2 win. Alex Carpenter had the other goal for UAH.

UAH goaltender Carmine Guerriero had 32 saves on Friday night and 26 on Saturday. His season save percentage of .928 is second in the WCHA, and he has a 2.46 goals against average this season.

Max McHugh continues to lead the Chargers in scoring with 19 points, which is tied for third among freshmen in the WCHA, and in goals with eight.

Other top scorers for UAH are Jack Prince (5-9-14), Chad Brears (3-10-13), Jeff Vanderlugt (6-6-12), and Brandon Parker. Frank Misuraca is tied with Vanderlugt for second on the team in goals with six.

UAH Tale of the tape
(WCHA rank)
UAF
8-20-4
7-16-1 WCHA (8th)
Record 15-13-2
10-12-2 WCHA (7th)
1.69 (9th) Goals/game 2.67 (5th)
3.12 (8th) Goals allowed/game 2.47 (6th)
15.8 (2nd) Pen. minutes/game 14.5 (3rd)
16.3% (5th) Power play 16.4% (4th)
83.0% (8th) Penalty kill 83.6% (7th)

About the Nanooks: Alaska (15-13-2 overall, 10-12-2 WCHA) are ineligible for the WCHA playoffs because of an NCAA postseason ban announced earlier this season, but the Nanooks are enjoying the spoiler role.

Last weekend, UAF hosted top ranked and WCHA leader Minnesota State and earned a 1-1 tie and a 3-1 victory. The Nanooks are undefeated in their last four games.

However, those four games were in Fairbanks, where they are 10-5-1 this season. The Nanooks are 3-8-1 on the road, although one of those wins — their last road win on Dec. 5 — was at Minnesota State.

Junior center Tyler Morley is the engine behind the Nanooks’ offense. He leads the team in goals (13), assists (19), and points (32), and he had three goals against the Mavericks last weekend. Sophomore right wing Marcus Basara is Alaska’s other double-digit goal scorer with 10, and junior defenseman and St. Louis Blues prospect Colton Parayko has 16 assists.

Senior goaltender Sean Cahill has been back in action after missing 13 games due to injury. He has allowed only one goal in each of his last four starts, and he has a 2.06 goals against average and a .923 save percentage for the season. Sophomore Davis Jones, who shut out the Chargers in the second game in Fairbanks while Cahill was out, is the backup.

WCHA Standings Record Pts.
Minnesota State** 19-3-2 40
Michigan Tech** 19-4-1 39
Bowling Green* 14-7-3 31
Bemidji State* 10-10-4 24
Northern Michigan* 10-10-4 24
Ferris State* 11-13-0 22
Alaska^ 10-12-2 22
Alabama-Huntsville 7-16-1 15
Lake Superior State 6-17-1 13
Alaska-Anchorage 4-18-2 10
** Clinched home ice in first round
* Clinched playoff berth
^ Ineligible for postseason play

Around the WCHA: Alaska’s three-point weekend against Minnesota State tightened the race for the MacNaughton Cup, which could be decided this weekend in a huge showdown in Mankato.

No. 2 Minnesota State leads No. 3 Michigan Tech by one point as the two top teams in the WCHA square off. Two wins by the Mavericks will clinch them their first regular-season league title.

No. 11 Bowling Green needs one win to clinch home ice in the first round as they head to Alaska-Anchorge. Bemidji State and Ferris State tussle in Big Rapids looking to host in the first round, while Northern Michigan has the same aspirations while hosting Lake Superior State.

Here’s the schedule for league teams this week. All times are Central. All games can be seen online on WCHA TV.

Friday, February 27

Alaska at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State at Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
#3 Michigan Tech at #2 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
#11 Bowling Green at Alaska-Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.

Saturday, February 28

Alaska at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State at Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
#3 Michigan Tech at #2 Minnesota State, 7:07 p.m.
#11 Bowling Green at Alaska-Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.

Series Preview: at Lake Superior State, Feb. 13-14

CATCHING THE GAMES
Times: 6:37 p.m. CT Friday
6:07 p.m. CT Saturday
Watch it: WCHA.tv (subscription)
UAH Charger Union
Hear it: 99.5 Yes FM
Stats: CollegeHockeyStats.net
Twitter: @weloveuahhockey, @uahhockey, @LakeStateHockey@HockeyLSSU,

A couple of wins would go a long way toward securing UAH’s first WCHA playoff spot this weekend.

The Chargers will be in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to take on the Lake Superior State Lakers. The two teams are tied for eighth in the WCHA standings, just two ahead of last-place (and first spot out) Alaska-Anchorage.

Puck drop is 6:37 p.m. on Friday night and 6:07 p.m. on Saturday night. The games can be seen on WCHA.tv. If you don’t have a WCHA.tv subscription, you can watch the game from Charger Union’s World of Wings on the UAH campus.

All-time series: Lake Superior State leads the all-time series 6-3-1, but UAH holds a 2-1-1 record in Sault Ste. Marie. The last series up north occurred in November 2012, where UAH won 2-1 (the Chargers’ lone win versus a Division I opponent in 2012-13) and LSSU won 4-0. Back in November of this season, the two teams split in Huntsville, with the Lakers winning 1-0 and the Chargers winning 5-2 to defeat a Division I team at home for the first time since 2011.

Brandon Carlson

Brandon Carlson has 70 blocked shots this season, tied for the most in Division I.

Chargers recap: UAH (7-18-3 overall, 6-14-0 WCHA) has been idle since being swept by Michigan Tech in Houghton two weeks ago. The scores were 5-0 and 11-1, so we’ll just leave it at that. The Chargers have lost four straight on the road, and have only one road conference win on the season.

Max McHugh leads UAH with 17 points and seven goals. Brandon Parker heads the Chargers in assists with 11.

Other top forwards are Jack Prince (5-7-12), Jeff Vanderlugt (5-6-11), and Chad Brears (3-8-11). Frank Misuraca leads the defensemen with six goals and 10 points, and rounds out the list of Chargers with double-digit points.

Carmine Guerriero is third in the WCHA with a .926 save percentage to go along with his 2.61 goals against average.

UAH Tale of the tape
(WCHA rank)
LSSU
7-18-3
6-14-0 WCHA (T-8th)
Record 7-22-3
6-16-0 WCHA (T-8th)
1.68 (9th) Goals/game 1.67 (10th)
3.32 (9th) Goals allowed/game 3.40 (10th)
15.6 (2nd) Pen. minutes/game 10.1 (10th)
15.7% (5th) Power play 8.4% (10th)
80.9% (8th) Penalty kill 74.5% (10th)

About the Lakers: Lake Superior State (7-22-3 overall, 6-16-0 WCHA) is tied with the Chargers for eigth place in the WCHA with 12 points. The Lakers have lost three straight, getting swept last weekend at Alaska, following a three-game win streak. Lake Superior is 3-7-0 this season at home.

In a situation somewhat reminiscent of UAH last season, Lake Superior State is at the bottom of just about every major category in the league as they continue to work on rebuilding under first-year head coach Damon Whitten.

Freshman Gordon Defiel has a 3.11 goals against average and a .915 save percentage this season. He has three shutouts, one of which was against the Chargers in Huntsville on November 14.

Senior forward Stephen Perfetto leads the Lakers with eight goals, and has a five-game point scoring streak coming into this series. Junior Bryce Schmitt has seven goals and seven assists to lead LSSU with 14 points.

Freshman defenseman James Roll is the only other Laker with double-digit points with 10. His nine assists leads the team.

WCHA Standings Record Pts.
Minnesota State** 19-2-1 39
Michigan Tech** 17-4-1 35
Bowling Green* 13-4-3 29
Northern Michigan 8-8-4 20
Alaska^ 9-12-1 19
Ferris State 8-12-0 16
Bemidji State 6-10-4 16
Alabama-Huntsville 6-14-0 12
Lake Superior State 6-16-0 12
Alaska-Anchorage 4-14-2 10
** Clinched home ice in first round
* Clinched playoff berth
^ Ineligible for postseason play

Around the WCHA: No more non-conference action — it’s all league play the final four weekends to determine who wins the MacNaughton Cup and clinches home ice and playoff berths. All 10 teams are in action this week.

For the second straight weekend, Bowling Green and Ferris State meet up, this time in Big Rapids, Michigan. BG took both games in Bowling Green last week as it clinched a playoff spot and edge closer to home ice in the first playoff round.

The race for the MacNaughton heats up in Alaska, where both No. 1 Minnesota State and No. 5 Michigan Tech, separated by just four points, visit Fairbanks and Anchorage, respectively.

Bemidji State visits Northern Michigan looking to move up into home ice territory in the standings.

Here’s the schedule for league teams this week. All times are Central. All games can be seen online on WCHA TV.

Friday, February 13

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

Saturday, February 14

UAH at Lake Superior State, 6:07 p.m.
#8 Bowling Green at Ferris State, 6:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
#5 Michigan Tech at Alaska-Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.
#1 Minnesota State at Alaska, 10:07 p.m.

Last-minute goals lead to UAH loss against USA U-18s

UAH showed the could battle with the best talent in America for two days. Although these were exhibition games, the results were still two heartbreaking defeats.

Jeremy Bracco scored the game-winner on a breakaway with 26 seconds left, then got the empty net goal to seal the deal with nine seconds to go to give Team USA a 4-2 victory over the Chargers to finish a two-game exhibition sweep at the Von Braun Center on Sunday.

Team USA outshot UAH 43-13, but the final result was in doubt for about the entire game, similar to Team USA’s 2-1 overtime win on Saturday.

Like Saturday, UAH scored the first goal of the contest. This time, Brandon Carlson did the honors during the Chargers’ second power play, putting in a rebound past Team USA goaltender Luke Opilka at the 8:15 mark. Alex Carpenter and Frank Misuraca, who fired the initial shot from the right point, got the assists.

Another similarity to Friday night’s game was Team USA’s dominance of the second period. Team USA outshot the Chargers 17-3 in the second after leading 17-1 the night before.

Fortunately, Team USA could not parlay it into a lead. They were able to tie the game at 1 on Colin White’s tally at 4:12.

At 9:45, on only the Chargers’ second shot of the period, Alex Carpenter ripped one from near the left circle, beating Opilka on the top left corner to give UAH a 2-1 advantage. He was assisted by Brennan Saulnier and Matt Salhany.

Just 52 seconds later, Team USA knotted the game at 2 as Jack Roslovic was able to shove the puck past UAH goaltender Matt Larose.

The Chargers put the body on Team USA to start the third, but Cody Marooney had a slashing penalty at 9:52 — necessary to stop Team USA from taking the lead.

UAH killed the ensuing power play, but Team USA used it to gain momentum in the Charger end. UAH did not have many chances the rest of the way.

With 1:30 to go in regulation, Larose stopped Brendan Warren’s breakaway opporunity. Then another defensive lapse gave Bracco his own breakaway, which he converted to give Team USA the 3-2 lead.

UAH immediately pulled Larose for the extra attacker, but Bracco the puck and scored the empty-netter for the final result.

Larose finished another solid outing with 39 saves. He stopped 31 of 33 shots on Saturday when he played the second period on.

Next week, the Chargers begin the stretch run in the race for a WCHA playoff berth. UAH, currently tied with Lake Superior State for eighth place in the league, visits second-place Michigan Tech on Friday and Saturday.

UAH returns home on February 20 and 21 to face Ferris State.

Notes: UAH stopped all three Team USA power plays on Sunday, and all eight for the weekend. UAH was 1-for-5 with the power play for the series. … UAH is now 0-7-1 all-time in exhibitions with the U.S. National Under-18 Team.

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.