Chargers lose point to extra-attacker goal; 3-3 (OT)

I think that this game was best summed up in our Slack chat tonight:

Could have won. Probably should have lost. Got a tie. All the mixed emotions.

Indeed, that’s a fair assessment.  UAH was out-shot 49-21 on Friday night in Big Rapids: sour sixteens in each of the regulation periods and just one in OT, thanks to Ferris having to kill a penalty.  But junior goaltender Matt Larose (Nanaimo, B.C.) was razor sharp, stopping 46 saves, a season-high for Charger netminders, and UAH got enough puck luck to push it to three goals for the third straight game.  But a fluky extra-attacker goal by the home squad

The Chargers sent a steady stream of white jerseys to the box, including a rare appearance by sophomore forward Max McHugh (Seattle), his first since November 7th.  In all, UAH was whistles for nine penalties taking 21 minutes, the one major a facemasking call against junior defenseman Brandon Carlson (Huntington, Beach, Calif.).

UAH returned to form with its fine penalty killing after a stumble last week against Alaska, stopping all eight opportunities and potting a shorthanded goal, as junior forward Matt Salhany (Warwick, R.I.) picked up a loose puck for a Stealhany to knot the game at 2-2 and deflate the home side.

BOX SCORE

For the Chargers, tonight’s game was all about sustained effort.  McHugh started the Chargers’ scoring off with his sixth of the season, banging home a backhander low past Ferris State freshman goaltender Darren Smith (Barrie, Ont.) after mucking and grinding down low with sophomore forward Brennan Saulnier (Halifax, Nova Scotia) to know bring the game level at 1-1.

After junior forward Jared VanWormer (Traverse City, Mich.) shocked the UAH defense by scoring :34 into the third and :09 after Saulnier’e penalty expired.  A cross-checking minor penalty committed by freshman forward Madison Dunn (Calgary) just :45 later spelled doom for the Chargers, who looked to be reeling.  Instead, Salhany’s quick reaction and fleet feet were combined with the right move to light the lamp.

UAH couldn’t capitalize on a couple of Ferris penalties, all on the route to go 0-for-6 with the man advantage on the evening.  But the Chargers then shocked the home crowd and pulled ahead when Marooney, Wilcox, and Poulsen brought tons of pressure, with freshman forward Tyler Poulsen (Arvada, Colo.) picking up the goal after finding the puck on a Ferris State stick and pushing it past Smith (18sv).

Sadly for the Chargers, the Bulldogs kept strong pressure in the UAH end, pulling Smith for an extra attacker and eventually getting senior forward Kenny Babinski (Midland, Michigan) his sixth goal of the year to dash the Herd’s hopes of pulling even with Alaska in the standings.  Neither team did much in the extra five minutes, even with the Bulldogs taking the penalty.

Larose moved to 3-4-1 on the season, his GAA edging up to 2.28 but his SV% moving to .927.  Smith is now 6-4-4.

As the Chargers seek to move out of the WCHA basement, they got no help from last week’s foe, Alaska, who won in overtime in Marquette.  The Chargers are still in last place with 9 league points, three behind 9th-place Alaska-Anchorage, who have three games in hand on the Chargers.

Ferris State 3, UAH 2

The Chargers scored the first goal of the game, but Ferris State netted three unanswered goals and held on for a 3-2 win over UAH at the Von Braun Center on Saturday.

UAH (8-20-4 overall, 7-16-1 WCHA) lost both games of the series to Ferris State (14-18-1 overall, 11-13-0 WCHA), both by one goal. The Bulldogs beat the Chargers 2-1 on Friday.

The Chargers remain in eighth place and in WCHA playoff position with 15 points, two up over idle Lake Superior State and five up over Alaska-Anchorage, which was swept by Bemidji State over the weekend. With Alaska ineligible, the Chargers currently hold the seventh seed, Lake Superior has eighth, and Anchorage would be out. Ferris State, meanwhile, is now tied with Alaska for sixth, seven points ahead of UAH.

Jeff Vanderlugt put UAH up 1-0 at 12:19 of the first period with his sixth goal of the season, backhanding a rebound past CJ Motte. He was assisted by Chad Brears, who picked up his 10th helper of the year.

Dom Panetta, who also tallied a goal in Friday’s game, tied the game at 1-1 with 3:01 left in the first. Kyle Schempp gave Ferris State the lead in the second period, and Sean O’Rourke made it 3-1 Bulldogs early in the third.

UAH’s Alex Carpenter’s third goal of the season — a tap-in after a Matt Salhany shot went through Ferris State goaltender C.J. Motte’s pads and rested in the middle of the crease — made it 3-2. The Chargers could not find the equalizer in the final rushes of regulation.

Motte made 25 saves, while UAH goaltender Carmine Guerriero stopped 26 of 29 shots.

UAH has its final home series of the season next weekend, Feb. 27-28, against Alaska. Puck drop is 7:07 p.m. both nights.

UAH 3, NMU 2

While UAH realizes that its best offense comes from point shots that get tipped or have rebounds hoovered up into dirty goals, all of its goals this weekend were one-shot goals.  Junior defenseman Frank Misuraca (Clinton Township, Mich.) picked up his second goal of the weekend, and junior forward Chad Brears (Cold Lake, Alberta) and freshman defenseman Richard Buri (Nitra, Slovakia) also fired pucks in from 50+ feet away, powering UAH to a 3-2 win over WCHA rival Northern Michigan.

The sweep — the Chargers’ second consecutive home sweep, one that pushed them to five wins in their last seven home contests — pushed the Chargers to 7-16-3 (6-12-0 WCHA) on the season and kept them ensconced in position to pick up the 7th seed in the 2015 WCHA playoffs.  The loss dropped the Wildcats to 9-8-5 (6-8-4 WCHA) and left them deadlocked in fourth place in the standings with Ferris State, who was swept by Mankato.  The Wildcats and Bulldogs are three points clear of Bemidji State (also swept) in 6th and just four ahead of those pesky Chargers.  (Now how much did that sweep in Bemidji hurt?)

Misuraca started the scoring early for the home squad, taking a pass back to the point from freshman forward Brennan Saulnier (Halifax, Nova Scotia).  “That was the same [kind of goal] as Bowling Green last year,” senior forward and team captain Doug Reid (Innisfil, Ont.) said of Misuraca’s goal.  The marker was Misuraca’s sixth of the season, which leads all UAH defensemen in goal scoring and puts him second on the team.

Sophomore defenseman Barrett Kaib (Pittsburgh, Pa.) picked up the equalizing goal, his second on the season.  Sophomore forward Casey Purpur (Grand Forks, N.D.) picked up his first point on the season with the assist.

Northern Michigan’s effort to level the game were successful for only 3:28.  A cross-checking minor by sophomore defenseman Brock Maschmeyer (Bruederheim, Alb.) at 14:26 followed by a roughing minor by sophomore forward Dominik Shine (Pinckney, Mich.) at 15:03 gave the Chargers a long two-man advantage.

While UAH couldn’t score with two extra men on a four-corners style attack designed to open space and draw defenders below the goal line and away from the powerful point shots that the Chargers love, the puck did get to the right place five seconds after Maschmeyer returned to the ice:

Brears ripped one from a few feet inside the blue line and pretty much straight down the middle, and apparently Wildcat junior goaltender Mathias Dahlström (Smedjebacken, Sweden) never saw it.  Brears’s 3rd gino of the season was assisted by freshman defenseman Brandon Parker (Faribault, Minn.) [10th] and senior forward Jeff Vanderlugt (Richmond Hill, Ont.) [6th].

Parker’s assist has him leading the team and ties him for first in overall defenseman points with Misuraca.  No Charger has had double-digits in assists since 2010-11, when five Chargers did so (Matt Baxter [13], Justin Cseter [12], Jamie Easton [12], Keenan Desmet [10], Tom Durnie [10]).  If you’re really curious, the last Chargers to get 15 were Andrew Coburn (15 in 09-10). Brandon Roshko (15 in 08-09, 17 in 07-08).  The last 20-assist Chargers were David Nimmo (22) and Shaun Arvai (20) in 2006-07.

The second period was fairly slow, with just 13 shots on goal (8 UAH, 5 NMU).  However, there was a penalty shot, as sophomore forward Matt Salhany (Warwick, R.I.) was slowed up on a breakaway attempt.  He did not convert the opportunity.  In the modern era, the Chargers have been awarded five penalty shots and have converted twice: Kevin Morrison on Oct. 8, 2006 at Air Force and Dwayne Blais at home against Iona on Nov. 4, 2000.  The last Charger to attempt a penalty shot was Cseter at Omaha on January 28, 2011.

[The Chargers have caused five penalty shots in the same time frame, allowing two goals.  Mark Byrne stopped his, and Blake McNicol and Cam Talbot were each 1/2.]

But there would be some excitement for the Wildcat faithful in the lower bowl late in the period.

Junior forward Darren Nowick‘s (Long Beach, Calif.) goal was his sixth of the season, and the assist was freshman forward Zach Diamantoni‘s (Boca Raton, Fla.) fourth.  Maschmeyer (5th) got the secondary assist.

“That’s what we work on a lot in practice,” Reid said.  “That one, he had an open shot at the net, and he just hammered it.  He’s a big boy, and he put a lot behind it.  It was a nice shot!”  Straight off the draw, freshman forward Max McHugh (Seattle, Wash.) pulled it back to Buri, a hulking force standing a few feet inside the blue line.  With everyone collapsed to the circle, Buri had a clean look at the glove side of the net and let fly.

From there, the Chargers just held on, with Dahlström out for the final 1:34 of the game.  The Chargers iced it several times in that setting, and Reid was pushed too wide to put one in the empty net.  But this team knows how to hold on now, and it’s not just four consecutive home wins: it’s four consecutive home wins with the other team’s net empty at the end of the game: 1:34 last night, 1:09 the night before, 1:18 on Jan. 3rd (6×4 for :27), and 2:10 on Jan. 4th (6×4 for :45).

The win pushed the 2015 senior class — Reid, Vanderlugt, forward and assistant captain Craig Pierce (Roswell, Ga.), defenseman Graeme Strukoff (Chilliwack, B.C.), and defenseman Ben Reinhardt — to seven Division I wins in their final season, two more than their first three seasons combined.  “It’s amazing, isn’t it?” said Pierce, who played in his 100th game as a Charger on Saturday night.  “We’ve been real good at home in 2015 at home.  We didn’t like how we played last weekend at Bemidji, so we’re happy to come back here and get four points in the WCHA.”

The Chargers are off of NCAA play next weekend as they host the US National Team Development Program’s Under-18 team in 2:00 p.m. Central contests on Saturday and Sunday.  UAH will then travel to Houghton, Mich. to face Michigan Tech before a weekend off and their third and final trip to the UP of the year to face Lake Superior in the Soo.  That matchup could be key in determining which WCHA squad gets an early tee time in March.  More on the probabilities of teams making the WCHA playoffs coming this week on wchaplayoffs.com.

No. 12 Omaha rallies in third to tie Chargers, 3-3

Penalties give, and penalties take away.

The Chargers staked a 2-0 lead in the second period, but Omaha scored two power play goals in the third and an extra attacker goal with 20.8 seconds left to force a 3-3 tie on Saturday.

BOX SCORE

UAH (3-14-3) ended a 24-game losing streak against ranked opponents, but the Chargers had their chances to make it a W against the 12th-ranked Mavericks (11-4-3) of the NCHC to finish the non-conference season and 2014.

Charger goaltender Carmine Guerriero, making his second straight start, made 29 saves, and he had to be strong early to keep the game scoreless after one. He made seven saves in the first period, and was shaken a little bit after Luc Snuggerud, after a drive to the net, was knocked into him by Richard Buri with 4:02 left in the period. He used the media timeout to get focused, and was able to keep the Mavericks at bay.

UAH then struck for two goals in the second period, both on the power play.

Brian Cooper went off for slashing at 3:32 of the frame, and the Charger power play was ugly to start, but so beautiful at the end. Turnovers led to three UNO chances shorthanded. Just as the power play was expiring, Jack Prince received a cross-ice pass from Max McHugh, slamming a one-timer past Crosswaithe to give UAH a 1-0 lead.

It was Prince’s third goal of the season. McHugh’s assist was his seventh, and Brandon Parker notched his team-leading eighth assist.

After James Polk was called for hooking at 11:10, McHugh made it 2-0 UAH on a goal of his own, cutting across the slot to beat Crosswaithe after getting a feed from Chad Brears. McHugh’s fifth goal of the season was assisted by Brears (sixth) and Prince (seventh).

Meanwhile, Guerriero kept squaring off on pucks as UNO desperately tried to cut into the Charger lead. Jake Guentzel knows all too well, as he was denied on point-blank shots in the final minutes of the second period.

Then came a penalty-filled third period for the Chargers, which allowed the Mavericks to come back.

UNO started the third replacing Crossthwaite, who was making his first career start, with Ryan Massa, their top netminder, as the Chargers would open the period on the power play. UAH would be stopped, and that was their last power play chance of the night.

At 5:03, Carpenter goes off for hooking. It took only five seconds to end the shutout, and for Ortega to finally get on the scoresheet for the weekend. His 10th goal of the season cut UAH’s lead to 2-1.

Carpenter did make amends just 14 seconds later, scoring his second goal of the season to regain the two-goal lead for the Chargers at 3-1. He was assisted by Jeff Vanderlugt and Matt Salhany.

Vanderlugt went into the box for interference after knocking down Massa at 9:27, and UNO again quickly converted. Ortega notched his second goal of the game just 15 seconds into the power play to make it a one-goal game again, 3-2 UAH.

The Chargers withstood two more power plays on McHugh’s tripping call at 13:54 and Brears’s boarding penalty at 16:37, but not without scares. With five minutes to go, the Mavericks found the post with Guerriero prone. UNO pulled Massa during the last power play to essentially give them a two-man advantage.

In all, UAH had five penalties in the third period, including a 10-minute misconduct on Brears for arguing the boarding call. That was more than the four they had in all of Friday’s game (a 2-1 Omaha win).

UNO pulled Massa again with 30 seconds in regulation, and Guentzel would finally not be denied. Dominic Zombo won the faceoff to Guerriero’s left, and Guentzel fired the puck past Guerriero with 20.8 seconds left to tie the game at 3-3 and force overtime.

Guentzel almost won the game for the Mavericks with under two minutes left in overtime, but Guerriero came up big to keep the game a draw.

After overtime, Omaha won the three-round shootout 1-0. The NCHC has shootouts to settle ties for conference standings, but for nonconference games and NCAA purposes it goes down as a tie for both teams. It was UAH’s first-ever shootout.

After a holiday break next weekend, the Chargers return home to WCHA play against the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves on January 2 and 3. Puck drop at the Von Braun Center both nights is 7:07 p.m.

NOTES: The last time UAH did not lose to a ranked opponent was Jan. 6, 2012, a 3-2 win at No. 11 Denver. … Omaha outshot the Chargers 32-28. … McHugh has his second multi-point game of his career with the assist and goal in second period.

UNO 2, UAH 1

The announcers on NCHC.tv for #12 Nebraska-Omaha (11-4-2, 6-3-1 NCHC) regularly lamented that the homestanding Mavericks were “letting the Chargers stay in this game”, a remark that kinda irked me on Twitter:

 

But the only way that UAH (3-14-2, 2-10-0 WCHA) are only going to garner national respect when they win these kinds of games.  Unfortunately for the Chargers, keeping an even shots-on-goal differential (31 for UNO, 25 for UAH) didn’t translate into a lot of Grade A chances.  As such, the lone UAH goal came off of the stick of senior forward Jeff Vanderlugt (Richmond Hill, Ont.) with just :11 remaining in regulation, cutting UNO’s final margin to 2-1 and denying sophomore goaltender Kirk Thompson (Surrey, B.C.), who made 24 saves to pull up to move to 2-1-0 on the season.

The Chargers outshot the Mavs 10-9 in the first period, but it was a late power-play goal at 18:56 that put the home squad up 1-0 heading into intermission.  :17 into sophomore forward Matt Salhany‘s (Warwick, R.I.) hooking penalty, Maverick junior defenseman Brian Cooper (Anchorage, Alaska) potted a goal on the nation’s #1 special teams unit.  Cooper’s fourth goal of the season was assisted by freshman forward Tyler Vesel (Rochester, Minn.) and freshman forward Avery Peterson (Grand Rapids, Minn.).

The second period was fairly quiet — as was the whole game, really.  UNO had a speed advantage, but time and again, the recovering UAH defensemen would push the forecheckers wide and deflect shots and passes into the corner.  This is evident in the stats for UAH sophomore goaltender Carmine Guerriero (Montréal, Que.), who made 29 saves in an effort that dropped him to 3-8-1 on the season.

UNO sophomore forward Justin Parizek (Lakeville, Minn.) scored his eighth goal of the season just :13 after freshman defenseman Brandon Parker‘s (Faribault, Minn.) slashing penalty ended, as the Mavs had the Chargers scrambling to return to their standard set.  Vesel notched his second assist of the night on the game-winner.

While UAH kept working to the end, the only reward was Vanderlugt’s goal, which was assisted by freshman defenseman Cody Champagne (Brookfield, Conn.).

There were plenty of things to like tonight:

  • The SOG differential was far more even than I expected, given UNO’s talent level.  That was a very workmanlike effort for the Chargers.
  • Mike Corbett definitely has his shutdown line in senior forward Doug Reid (Innisfil, Ont.), senior forward Craig Pierce (Roswell, Ga.), and sophomore forward Brent Fletcher (New Westminster, British Columbia).  I think that Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson is still complaining about the Bulldog Line’s harassment of his top line; UNO coach Dean Blais probably feels the same way.  There were a couple of shifts tonight where Pierce was an absolute wild man, seemingly every where at once and using his body to full effect.  Make no mistake: those guys really, really give a crap.
  • Carmine looked very good in net — the game-winner was a slapshot glove/short side that ricocheted in off of the post.  Will he start tomorrow night?  My guess would be that sophomore goaltender Matt Larose (Nanaimo, British Columbia) will get the nod to keep him fresh.  UAH plays all five weekends in January, and since it’s reasonable to think that Carmine starts at least seven of those games, you need to keep Larose in the groove.
  • Penalties!  The boys only committed four penalties for eight PIM!  That’s half of the usual total!  Sadly the blazing hot streak of the PK units seems over, but we’ll take the result.
  • There was just a lot of energy all night long, and let’s be honest — it’s the weekend before Christmas.  The boys went to Alaska right after finals.  They couldn’t really go too far afield before going to Nebraska on Thursday.  They want to see their families just as much as any of the rest of us do.  These pre-Christmas games are really, really hard to play, and you have to respect that the boys came out with jump all night long.

The two teams tangle at 5:07 p.m. Central to finish UAH’s 2014 slate.  Michael will take care of you on Sunday night.  Y’all have a great time with friends and family in the last week-plus of the year, no matter how you choose to celebrate it!  UAH hockey is better for your support and interest.