Series Preview: UAH vs. Minnesota State

It’s a weekend of new beginnings for the UAH Chargers and Minnesota State Mavericks: On the ice, and behind the bench.

Both clubs feature new head coaches with impressive resumes, but will be making their debuts in NCAA Division I. UAH’s Kurt Kleinendorst spent nine years as an assistant coach and scout with the New Jersey Devils, and led the Binghamton Senators of the AHL to a conference championship.

Meanwhile, Minnesota State’s Mike Hastings made his mark in junior hockey, leading the Omaha Lancers to three championships and becoming the all-time winningest coach in USHL history with 529 wins. He replaced Troy Jutting, who coached the Mavericks for 12 seasons.

The Mavericks were 12-24-2 overall last season, finishing 11th in the WCHA with a 8-18-1 conference slate. UAH is coming off its worst season record-wise with only two victories.

As such, both teams are eager to make this a turnaround season.

The Mavericks return their top four scorers and have added depth on offense with a talented rookie class, but the top man is senior captain Eriah Hayes. Hayes has pro potential, and his line with Matt Leitner and Jean-Paul LaFontaine scored 37 goals last season.

This will pose a challenge to the Chargers’ relatively inexperienced goaltending corps. John Griggs is a third-year senior who played in six games last season, and junior C.J. Groh played in only two. Along with freshman Gregg Gruehl, this series could be an audition for the regular starter spot.

The Mavericks do not have such questions in goal. Phil Cook will start the opener. The 6-3, 195-pound senior had two different seasons in one in 2011-12: He had a 6.68 goals against average in just five games in the first half, then posted a 2.59 average (with a .917 save percentage) in 11 starts the rest of the way. He did not face UAH in the two-game series in Mankato last season.

Senior co-captain Tyler Elbrecht leads a corps of six returning defensemen for MSU. The 6-4, 210-pound Elbrecht is the most physical presence on the team. Zach Palmquist, a sophomore led all Maverick blue liners with 19 points — six more than Kyle Lysaght, UAH‘s leading scorer last season.

So what about the Charger offense? Coach K^2 is preaching the “process.” And that process will be to see how UAH’s top guns — Lysaght, captain Justin Cseter, and alternate captain Sebastian Geoffrion — will get their scoring chances. The Chargers got 22 goals against Alabama, but against real NCAA competition, this will be a work in progress that will likely require patience as coach and players get in synch. Jack Prince had a big weekend against the Frozen Tide, so his NCAA debut will be one to watch.

Minnesota State, which took a 7-1 decision against Lethbridge in their lone preseason game, has the upper hand in all phases — it showed last season when the Mavericks beat the Chargers 4-2 and 9-1 in Mankato. To pull the upset, UAH will need to rely on its five veteran defensemen (with alternate captain Curtis deBruyn) and handful of touted freshmen.

Minnesota State is unbeaten in the last eight meetings with the Chargers, evening the all-time series record at 17-17-4.

For PucKato‘s thoughts, check out their evaluations of their forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders.  Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press does great work.


Facebook Cover Photo for Mankato Series

Hey y’all — if you want to help spread the word about Friday’s game, we have a way you can help: donate your Facebook cover photo for this week!  Just click and then save the image below and upload it to your page.  UAH Sports Information pulled this together, and I think it’s great!

Thanks for your help!  Go Chargers!

P.S.: If people have questions about ticketing for Friday night, please point them to our Q&A.

Ticket Q&A for Friday, Oct. 12th Game v. Mankato

As many outlets—including us on Facebook and Twitter—have noted, tickets for any seat in the Propst Arena at the Von Braun Center on Friday night at 7pm will be FREE. Any seat, upstairs or downstairs is FREE. I’ve had a number of questions via email, phone, and Facebook, so this is your Q&A on the ticket situation.

Q: Are tickets really free?

Yup. Would I lie to you? [I get this question in incredulity, and it’s a fair question.]

Q: How do I get tickets?

This answer depends on where you’d like to sit:

  • General Admission (Upper Bowl): You can get a ticket at the door. All we’re doing there is counting noses.
  • Reserved Seating (Lower Bowl): There’s a number of ways these go.
    1. Season ticket-holders have already been sold their seats, and please don’t take their seats. Cool?
    2. Your best bet is to call (256-551-2345) or visit the VBC Box Office (M-Th 10a-5p and F 10a-gametime). The tickets will still be free, but you’ll get a printed ticket with your seat assignment on it, and you’ll have the rights to your seat.
    3. Watch for open seats early in the game and move down from general admission if you like. Be prepared to relinquish your seat to someone with a ticket for it. Please be pleasant if this happens.
  • Ice Suites (at glass): The University has bought the remaining ice suites. I believe that these will be distributed to faculty and staff. Please plan on viewing the game from one of the bowls.

When should I try to get Reserved Seating?

I’d say that you should do it as soon as possible. I do not know for sure if the VBC will put reserved tickets at will call, but I fully expect that they will do so. You can always ask when you call—256-551-2345 is the number.

Where should I sit in General Admission?

Anywhere is fine. There’s a lot of noise from Sections 304 (Pep Band) and 305 (Crazy Alumni, including the TALAH Boys). These sections are a lot of fun, but the commentary can veer into off-color at times, so attendees with impressionable ears would best be staged no closer than 307 on the penalty box side. The VBC has a handy seating chart for the Propst Arena (PDF).

People generally accumulate along the sides opposite the player benches (307, 308, 309) and penalty boxes (322, 323, 324). This gives you a general view of the ice, but it does put you equidistant from each goal, meaning that you never see either goal terribly well. If you sit in the corners (303-305, 311-313, 318-320, 326-328), you’ll have a great view of action at one goal. If you want to see the goal that UAH shoots on twice, 303, 305, and 326-328 are your choice seating locations. The Pep Band sits in 304 because that gives them a reflector behind them to project throughout the area. Also, our sections like being in the goalie’s earhole.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments or call me at 256-542-1436.