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.

Kyle Lysaght Critically Injured in Automobile Crash

Kyle Lysaght
Tough news from Atlanta: MyFoxAtlanta and EastCobbPatch are reporting that UAH sophomore forward Kyle Lysaght was critically injured in an automobile accident on Friday afternoon.

Police said Lysaght was a frontseat passenger in a gray 2007 Lexus heading southbound on Johnson Ferry shortly before 5 p.m. Friday.

As the vehicle approached the intersection of Woodlawn, it was struck by a white 2005 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck turning left onto Woodlawn from northbound Johnson Ferry.

The Lexus then collided with a utility pole in a traffic island, seriously injuring Lysaght, Pierce said.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Kyle.  I’ve been in contact with a couple of his teammates, and they have filled me in on some of his injuries.  I would term this situation very worrisome.  Out of respect for Kyle’s privacy, I believe that the best thing for all of us to do is show our concern for our him and not pass around rumors/facts about how he’s doing.  We should just all focus on a full recovery.

Get well, Kyle.

Update: Coach Kleinendorst has been told by Kyle’s father that Kyle’s “stablilized” and it “looks like the worst is behind him,” according to Budd McLaughlin at The Huntsville Times.

Northeastern 3, UAH 1

On the surface, this was one of those games where you’d say, “Oh well, we competed hard.”  That the boys worked hard is certainly true, but this is a night where you’d better not be saying it sarcastically or roll your eyes.  This game came down to puck luck and two excellent Husky goals.  Unfortunately, it was a one-goal game with an empty-netter tacked on at the end to seal off the doubt.

Even the Northeastern announcers noticed early on that the boys had jump.  You never heard “our guys are playing down to their level” or “we’re just not playing that hard” or “we’re letting them stay in this one”.  The boys really did make their marks all over this game.  The finishes just weren’t there.

Kyle Lysaght scored the Chargers’ lone goal with just 7:01 gone in the first.  Lysaght picked the puck up in the slot and pulled off a spin move to get the puck onto his forehand.  His rip left Chris Rawlings (24 SV) guessing and gave the boys the lead that they’d hold for more than a period.  Alex Allan and Lasse Uusivirta got the assists.

The penalty situation is something that many Charger fans have decried of late, but the ones taken tonight were “good penalties”.  Graeme Strukoff took two penalties that likely saved Husky goals, while Uusivirta took a hooking penalty near the net that certainly slowed things a bit.  Certainly Coach Kleninendorst would prefer that the guys not put themselves into the position of needing to cancel the advantage with two minutes in the penalty box, but at least the penalties were serviceable.

Gregg Gruehl was a revelation for the Chargers in net.  After stopping 20-of-21 on Saturday night in St. Lawrence, he earned Kleinendorst’s confidence and showed up big, stopping 31-of-33—including all 14 in the third, when the Northeastern announcers kept praising his work.  The two goals he allowed were difficult saves: a tip-in from his stick side that went between his mask and glove, and a point-blank shot through the five hole on the power play.  A third marker on his card was disallowed when a Husky was found to be in his crease, impeding Gruehl’s progress going from right to left.

Gruehl now sports a .944 SV% and a 1.82 GAA.  Will he start to eat into Johnny Griggs’s minutes?

The boys played with good pace and intensity for most of the game.  Coach Kleinendorst talks about the process and how that will drive wins.  If you watched both last night’s game and tonight’s, you’ll see how that process has driven progress, but at 0-9-1, the boys aren’t seeing the results they want.

The Chargers next travel to the Soo to play Lake State on Friday night and Saturday night.  That’s a tough week on the boys, who will fly out of Boston on Monday morning, practice and go to classes on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then leave out that night for the long bus trip to the UP.  The end of this road string is in sight!  After a weekend series at Omaha right after Thanksgiving, the Chargers return to Huntsville for a couple of weekends.

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.”

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Incoming Interview: Kyle Lysaght

Kyle Lysaght is a 6’0″, 190-lb forward from Roswell, GA. He comes to Huntsville having played two seasons with the Oakville Blades in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, where he appeared in a total of 142 games. He hit the ice in 46 contests in 2010-11, scoring 35-23–58 points. Lysaght picked up his game in the playoffs, leading the Blades to the championship series on scoring of 8-16–24 in 23 games. Lysaght attended the Kent School in Connecticut prior to playing in Oakville.

As with our other interviews, my questions will be in bold-face type.

When did you first start playing hockey? Who in your family played and was involved in you taking up the game? Have you always played your position, or have you played elsewhere on the ice? What was your favorite team and player growing up?

I first started playing around age five in New Jersey. My Dad was the one responsible for making me a hockey player. He grew up playing in New York and then played four years of club hockey for Georgia Tech. I am pretty sure he used to play in the VBC against UAH back in the day. I have bounced around everywhere on the ice, but I am a forward and like to play left wing. My favorite team then and now is the New York Rangers, and my favorite player growing up was Pavel Bure.

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