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.


Today in Charger Hockey History: 1998 NCAA Division II National Championship

Revenge. It’s the driving force behind any rivalry.

And so it was with UAH and Bemidji State. The Beavers took the NCAA Division II championship from the Chargers in sudden death overtime in 1994. UAH got even with a convincing sweep in 1996.


The Huntsville Times sports section, March 15, 1998.

The Beavers took the 1997 title with a sweep in Bemidji. Naturally, it was UAH’s turn.

“We don’t like each other,” Darren Awender told The Huntsville Times. “It‘s a rivalry, simple as that.”

Fifteen years ago, on March 14, 1998, the Chargers got revenge. Again.

And it cemented UAH-Bemidji as one of the hottest rivalries in college hockey, despite the approximately 1,200 miles between the schools.

The Chargers won the 1998 NCAA Division II national championship with 6-2 and 5-2 wins over the Beavers. UAH finished the season with a 24-3-3 record.


Cedrick Billequey, Marc Lalonde, and Jim Alauria clamp down during Game 1. (Photo by Robin Conn of The Huntsville Times)

It appeared things were going UAH‘s way early in the first game. Bemidji’s Marc LeFleur had UAH goalie Cedric Billequey down with 40 seconds left in the first period, when defenseman Tim McAllister flew into the crease and blocked LeFleur’s shot to keep the game scoreless.

From there, the Chargers took command with three goals in the second and three more in the third. Mark Motowski netted two goals, with Colin Schmidt, Ryan Stewart, Mike Hamlin, and co-captain John McCabe also scoring.

With the game in hand, tempers flared. Twenty-four players were called for penalties between the teams, including a game misconduct penalty on BSU’s Bruce Matatall for butt-ending Stewart.

Bemidji opened the scoring in Game 2, but Ryan Gavigan’s deflection of a McAllister shot from just inside the blue line snuck past BSU goalie Neil Cooper to tie the game at 1.

Ryan Stewart then blew the doors off Bemidji and UAH didn’t look back. His blast from the far circle with 3:16 of the second period hit Cooper’s pad, trickled past him, and broke a 1-1 tie.

Schmidt made it 3-1 two minutes later when he buried a Ryan McCormack pass from behind the goal line. Jay Woodcroft and McCabe’s power-play goals in the third put the game out of reach. Billequey’s 30 saves made it stand.


Ryan Stewart holds up the trophy and acknowledges the crowd as the Chargers celebrate their second NCAA championship. (Photo by Robin Conn of The Huntsville Times)

The end of the championship was marred by one final scuffle. Shane Stewart had the puck alone behind the UAH net as the final seconds were counted down, ready for the celebration, when BSU’s Jim Logan checked into Stewart. The Chargers retaliated and a fracas ensued.

Call it the heat of the moment, but the incident led to harsh words on live TV by McCabe: “We’re 20 times the team that team is down there, and showed it both nights.

“They can’t carry our skates and they’re going Division I? They’re brutal. See you, Bemidji!”

Bemidji State would announce a move to Division I in May of 1998. UAH followed a month later, ending the head-to-head series in Division II at two championships apiece. After a year as independents, the schools would continue the rivalry as charter members of College Hockey America.

But on that night, the Chargers got the best of the Beavers again.

Huntsville native Matt Parker, who was a senior this go around, told The Huntsville Times: “This was my second championship, and it was just as good.”


Back row: Coach Mike Quenneville, Dwayne Blais, Ryan Gavigan, Mike Hamlin, Coach A.J. Baker, Ryan McCormack, Tim McAllister, Tom Williams, Dr. Michael Linder. Middle row: Coach Lance West, Robert Cross (equipment), Jay Woodcroft, Jamie Baby, Joe Provenzano, Shane Stewart, Marc Lalonde, Mark Motowski, Dave Marcelli, Nathan Bowen, Colin Schmidt, Derek Young, Ryan Stewart, Trainer Theresa Brooks, Trainer Jeff Kinard. Front row: Cedrick Billequey, Paul Schloss, Matt Parker, John McCabe, Coach Doug Ross, Jim Alauria, Jason Mucciarone, Darren Awender, Steve Briere.