UAH 3, Air Force 3

It was the best of seconds, it was the worst of thirds.  It was the age of the Bulldog Line, it was the age of bad penalties and worse kills.  It was the epoch of belief that maybe we had turned the corner, it was the epoch of incredulity that we blew a three-goal lead.  It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.  We had a road sweep before us, we had a blown three-goal lead before us.  We were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the sin bin.  In short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

It was a tie, but man, I never expected to be disappointed in a three-goal weekend against a non-conference opponent.  (Okay, WCHA brethren, we did our job for PWR help.)

UAH scored three goals in 5:08 in the second half of the second period, two off of the stick of senior forward Craig Pierce (Roswell, Ga.) to take their first three-goal lead against a Division I foe since a road game against Maine in February 2012.  In fact, that game also saw a hot line, with forwards Kyle Lysaght (Marietta, Ga.), Justin Cseter (Menomomie, Wisc.), and Mac Roy (Chiliwack, B.C.) each netting a goal and two assists.

Pierce’s goals came as the Bulldog Line brought the pressure to Falcon sophomore goaltender Chris Truehl (Stoughton, Wisc.), with Pierce streaking through the slot to pick up rebounds from sophomore forward Brent Fletcher (New Westminster, B.C.) and then senior forward and captain Doug Reid (Innisfail, Ont.) to finish a flurry of UAH scoring attempts.

Unfortunately for UAH, the Falcons must have read the script from that Maine game during the second intermission, as the Falcons equaled the Black Bears’ three-goal output in the final regulation frame.  After killing the first nine penalties of the weekend, UAH conceded three power play goals in four opportunities, the last two coming just 1:31 apart, to bring the game to level 5:48 in regulation.

Unlike last night, there were no late-game heroics.  But unlike that Maine result, the Chargers kept the puck out of their net in the overtime, and the boys in blue hop a plane ride home with three more points in the CHA standings (hey wait) but sadly without their first road sweep in five years (also against Air Force).

Mike Corbett is now 2-3-1 all-time against the Serratores.

There was a lot to like in this game.  Chief among them is sophomore goaltender Matt Larose (0-4-1, Nanaimo, B.C.), who was solid in net (36 sv).  Next comes the pressure from the aforementioned Bulldog Line, who played good transition hockey and really brought the pressure from the tops of the circles on in.  Third was the forechecking game, which wavered in the first part of the second period but was always at least passable the rest of the game — and often better than that.

In the end, what we’ll all remember from this one is that the boys had a three-goal lead and gacked it with four third-period penalties and a fifth from the second that carried 1:48 into the third.  Setting yourself up to kill nearly half the period in penalties is asking for disaster, and that’s exactly what the Chargers got in this one.  Simply put, the Chargers have to learn how to win games like that, and staying out of the box is high on the list of things that influence that, even if the refs are making bad calls.

We’ll see you next week at the VBC for games against Lake Superior State University.  Puck drop is 7:07 Central both nights.

Hoof Beats: Tourney tidbits, Chargers join the pros

News and notes from around the WCHA and college hockey. I call them “Hoof Beats.”

  • Remember that the 2013 UAH Hockey Banquet is Friday, April 5! Reservations must be received by next Monday (April 1).
  • The WCHA also unveiled an updated logo to go along with its updated roster of teams.

    The WCHA also unveiled an updated logo to go along with its updated roster of teams.

    The WCHA confirmed its postseason tournament plans starting next year. The top eight teams in the 10-team league will make the playoffs. Higher seeds will host lower seeds (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, etc.) for the quarterfinals in best-of-3 series. The single-elimination semifinals and championship, which will retain the name “WCHA Final Five”, will be held at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2014 and 2016, and the Xcel Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2015 and 2017.

  • The NCAA Tournament field has been announced. Soon-to-be league foe Minnesota State earned an at-large bid as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region in Toledo and will face No. 2 seed Miami on Saturday. Minnesota State is one of four teams in the tournament UAH played this season (St. Cloud State, Wisconsin, and Boston College are the others).
  • Chargers join the pros: Sebastian Geoffrion has four goals, an assist, and 25 penalty minutes in eight games with the Arizona Sundogs (CHL). Justin Cseter has a goal and an assist in six games with the Huntsville Havoc (SPHL). John Griggs stopped 31 of 32 shots in his pro debut with the Pensacola Ice Flyers (SPHL) on Sunday.
  • As posted on Twitter this week: If you want some more hope for the UAH future, look at UMass-Lowell: 5-25-4 two years ago, 26-10-2 this year and 2013 Hockey East champions.


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.”