Today in Charger Hockey History: 1983 National Club Championship

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the first hockey championship moment in Huntsville, and perhaps the oddest game-winning goal in Charger history.

On March 5, 1983, the University of Alabama in Huntsville defeated Penn State 5-4 to win the U.S. National Club Ice Hockey Championship in front of 4,234 fans at the Von Braun (Civic) Center.

uahhockey_1982-1983_teamphotoBob Quaille’s goal — a trickler down the goalie’s arm and across the line — with two minutes left in the third period broke the tie and set off the first big hockey celebration in the Rocket City. It was the Chargers’ second straight national club championship, the 1982 title earned in Boulder, Colorado.

It also kick-started the legacy of Doug Ross, who was in his first season as UAH head coach after taking over for program founder Joe Ritch.

The 1982-83 season started inauspiciously, with a loss and a tie at Iowa State. UAH then won four straight before falling twice to those pesky Cyclones at home.

The Chargers then reeled off nine straight wins as they started rolling over Central States Collegiate Hockey League competition. Eleven Chargers scored double-figures in goals, led by Brian Kelly’s 38 goals and 80 points, as UAH finished 27-6-2 on the season.

UAH was a perfect 13-0 in conference play, but would lose to Marquette 5-4 in overtime at home in the league championship game.

uahhockey_1983champprogramNo matter. UAH was the host of the United States National Club Ice Hockey Tournament. The Chargers easily dispatched their South bracket opponents: 16-2 over Auburn and 7-4 over Arizona. The championship would be against Penn State, which beat Ohio 5-4 and tournament favorite Miami (Ohio) 5-1 in the North bracket.

The Chargers dominated possession the first period thanks to four power play chances leading to a 16-3 shots advantage, but it was Penn State who had the lead after scoring just 1:57 into the game.

The second period saw the offenses crank up. The Nittany Lions made it 2-0 on another early-period goal, but UAH came roaring back to take the lead with three goals in a span of 3:22. Andre Gilbert got the Chargers on the board at 7:17. Kevin Monaco tied the game up at the 9:38, and Bobby MacQuisten broke the tie one minute later.

Things got chippy in the middle of the period, and Penn State took advantage of a two-man power play to tie the game at 3. Quaille, who was second on the team that season with 34 goals and 63 points, regained the lead for the Chargers heading into the third.

With the title on the line, the refs then put the whistles away for most of the final frame. PSU tied the game at 4 at the 11:24 mark, which set the stage for the final drama and Quaille’s winner.

Here’s how longtime UAH fan and eyewitness Terry Long described it:

With little time left in regulation, the Penn State goalie [John Davis] had played an amazing game even though he had surrendered four goals. Then, he gets hit in the chest with a wicked shot that rolls down his left arm, off his glove, onto the ice, across the line, and into the corner of the goal. It was almost in slow motion like in a movie.

No matter how it happened, it still goes down in the box score as the championship-winning goal at 18:00 of the third period.

UAH would win the championship again at the VBCC in 1984, and just miss a fourth straight title in 1985. UAH joined the varsity ranks and the NCAA, winning Division II championships at home in 1996 and 1998. But on that night 30 years ago, Huntsville learned how to host a championship party.


Old-school box score. Special thanks to Joey Daniels and the UAH Sports Information office. For the Penn State perspective, check out this write-up in Thank You Terry.

Penn State 1 2 1 -- 4
UAH        0 4 1 -- 5 

  First period -- 1, Penn State, Art McQuillan (Nick Pappas, 
Clark Dexter), 1:57. 
  Penalties -- Clark Dexter, PSU (elbowing), 5:25. Jeff Legay, 
PSU (high sticking), 11:41. Dave Hornack, PSU (roughing), 13:23. 
John Holland, PSU (roughing), 13:23. Bobby MacQuisten, UAH 
(roughing), 13:23. Kevin Mills, UAH (roughing), 13:23. Joe 
Grainda, PSU (delay of game), 16:06. Glenn DeStefano, PSU 
(hooking), 19:16. 

  Second period -- 2, Penn State, Joe Grainda (Mike Blackwell), 
2:16. 3, UAH, Andre Gilbert (Brian Butcher, Frank Heller), 7:17. 
4, UAH, Kevin Monaco (Bob Quaille), 9:38. 5, UAH, Bobby 
MacQuisten (Brian Kelly, Kevin Mills), 10:38. 6, Penn State, 
Brad Rush (Norm Jacobs, Clark Dexter), 11:14 (pp). 7, UAH, Bob 
Quaille (Daniel Dorothy), 14:41 (pp). 
  Penalties -- Craig Whitacre, UAH (holding), 2:48. Bobby 
MacQuisten, UAH (slashing), 3:33. Will Hereford, UAH (hooking), 
10:59. Bob Quaille, UAH (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:59. Art 
McQuillan, PSU (interference), 12:09. Steve Moerner, UAH 
(slashing), 12:09. Frank Heller, UAH (roughing), 14:10. Brad 
Rush, PSU (roughing), 14:10. Daniel Dorothy, UAH (roughing), 
16:21. Kevin Mills, UAH (interference), 17:01. Norm Jacobs, UAH 
(slashing), 18:21. Daniel Dorothy, UAH (hitting from behind), 

  Third period -- 8, Penn State, Brad Rush (Norm Jacobs), 11:24 
(pp). 9, UAH, Bob Quaille (Daniel Dorothy), 18:00. 
  Penalties -- Andre Gilbert, UAH (hooking), :23. Nick Pappas, 
PSU (boarding), 7:27. Brian Kelly, UAH (hooking), 9:30. 

  Shots on goal -- Penn State 3-20-11 34. UAH 16-14-9 39. 
  Goalies -- Penn State, John Davis (39 shots, 34 saves). UAH, 
Steve Moerner (34, 30).
  Penalties -- Penn State, 10-23. UAH, 13-26. 
  Power plays -- Penn State 2-7, UAH 1-6.   
  A -- 4,324. Referee -- Doug Wilson.

Penn State 4, UAH 3

UAH came up with two equalizers in the third period, but Penn State’s goal with less than five minutes to go gave the Nittany Lions a 4-3 win Saturday and a sweep in the “Independent League Megabowl.”

The physical play that escalated throughout Friday’s game continued into Saturday. Eleven penalties were called on Penn State and seven on the Chargers as Sebastian Geoffrion continued to mix it up with the Lions.

Penn State started the scoring at 8:45 of the first period. Taylor Holstrom centered to Casey Bailey, who fired it far side past John Griggs.

Most of the action was in the UAH zone, including during a Penn State power play that saw Griggs make four saves. The Lions also had a couple of chances on the Chargers’ lone advantage of the period.

David Glen continued his hot hand at 10:45 of the second, scoring his fourth goal of the series with a wicked short-angle shot from the bottom of the right circle to give Penn State a 2-0 lead.

The Chargers finally got on the board as Michael Webley found Kyle Lysaght in the right circle, who slid it past Matthew Skoff to cut it to 2-1 with 2:26 left. It was Lysaght’s fifth goal of the season.

The Chargers started the third with a two-man advantage after two penalties late in the second: as Rich O’Brien got a indirect contact to the head roughing penalty for a hit on Geoffrion with :44 seconds left in the 2nd, followed by a slash by Connor Varley at the horn. UAH capitalized 54 seconds in, as Justin Cseter follows up a rebound on Jeff Vanderlugt’s shot to tie the game at 2. Lysaght got the second assist.

After Kenny Brooks put Penn State up 3-2 at 7:23, UAH tied it up again at 12:20 as Brice Geoffrion got his first goal of the season, tucking it past Skoff on the right post. Anderson White and Graeme Strukoff assisted.

But Mark Yanis, left all alone in the slot, one-times a blast past Griggs with 4:26 left for the game-winner.

UAH will be idle for another two weekends before finally finishing the season with two games at Minnesota-Duluth on March 1 and 2.