UAH 5, UConn 2

HUNTSVILLE — The homestanding UAH Chargers (1-1-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) rebounded from a tough game on Friday to win going away on Saturday, again potting two first-period goals but equaling that total in the final frame for a 5-2 win over the visiting Connecticut Huskies (1-1-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East).  (Box score)

The Chargers were paced by a blistering night from their top line.  Sophomore forward Brennan Saulnier (Halifax, Nova Scotia) scored two goals and assisted on each of his linemates’ markers, while senior forward Chad Brears (Cold Lake, Alberta) also assisted on his linemates’ goals and sophomore forward Max McHugh (Seattle) assisted on Saulnier’s first tally.  The 4-5—9 mark is the highest for one Charger line since February 25, 2006, when Bruce Mulherin (2002-06, Red Deer, Alb.) went 1-4—5, Brett McConnachie (2003-07, Ajax, Ont.) 3-0—3, and Chris Martini (2003-06, Calgary, Alb.) slacked 1-0—1 to make for a startling five goals and four assists on the night.  Saulnier’s effort is the Chargers’ single-best point effort since Jack Prince’s 2-2—4 game against Michigan Tech on February 8, 2014.

UAH scored five goals just once in 2014-15, a 5-2 win over Lake Superior that was the program’s first Division I home win in nearly four years.  The seven-goal weekend output was the highest at home against a Division I opponent since a 4-2 loss and 5-5 tie against Niagara in 2008-09, and the Chargers are 1-1-0 to start the season for the first time since 2010-11.

It was kinda historic.

The Huskies got an early lead when freshman forward Hans Gorowsky (Lino Lakes, Minn.) hauled down sophomore forward Corey Ronan (Franklin, Mass.) on a breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot that Ronan rang in off of the left post.

The Chargers soon responded.  Brears would knot the game at 1-1 just 67 seconds later off of a feed from sophomore defenseman Richard Buri (Nitra, Slovakia).  Husky freshman defenseman Miles Gendron (Shrewsbury, Mass.) would push the visitors back up 2-1 with his first collegiate goal just 1:55 after that.  Then the Chargers returned the favor :25 later with Saulnier’s first marker of the night (Brears, McHugh).  All four goals were scored in 4:27.

After a period of out-shooting the Huskies 15-10, the Chargers returned more to recent form, suffering a deficit of 12-5 in the middle frame.  McHugh would score on the power play, though, pushing UAH to the lead with just 2:36 left in the 2nd right after senior defenseman Kyle Huson‘s (Parker, Colo.) penalty expired to bring the Huskies back to four defenders.

The Chargers poured it on in the third, adding Saulnier’s second marker from an assist by senior defenseman Frank Misuraca (Clinton Township, Mich.) at 6:10.  Gorowsky added an insurance marker on the penalty kill, taking a feed from junior forward Regan Soquila (Maple Ridge, B.C.), who had intercepted a poor outlet pass into neutral ice.  Soquila nearly ended his goalless streak just a shift later, sending a puck just wide of Husky sophomore goaltender Steve Thulin (North Reading, Mass.).

Junior goaltender Carmine Guerriero (Montréal, Qué.) made 29 saves in the win, moving up to 1-1-0 and raising his save percentage to .908 and lowering his GAA to 3.01.  Thulin, seeing his first collegiate action, made 24 saves.

UAH plays an exhibition next weekend against the University of Alabama’s club team before starting the WCHA season at home the next weekend against Alaska-Anchorage.  The exhibition is at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday the 17th, while the varsity games on the 23rd and 24th drop the puck at 7:07 p.m.

McHugh named to WCHA All-Rookie Team

Max McHugh

Max McHugh

Max McHugh, UAH’s freshman forward from Seattle, was named to the All-Rookie Team among the 2014-15 WCHA Awards announced Thursday.

McHugh is the Chargers’ leading scorer with 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points, the most for a UAH player since the 2006-07. He had 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points in WCHA play this season, which was third among all rookies in the league and tied for 19th among freshmen in NCAA Division I.

McHugh has played in all 36 of UAH’s games this season, winning the WCHA Rookie of the Week Award twice. His 12 goals are tied for 12th among all players in the WCHA.

The league also announced its all-academic team, featuring 13 Chargers: Chad Brears (Jr., F, Cold Lake, Alberta, 2013-14 WCHA Outstanding Scholar-Athlete of the Year); Brandon Carlson (So., D, Huntington Beach, Calif.); Alex Carpenter (Jr., F, Portage, Mich.); Brent Fletcher (So., F, New Westminster, British Columbia); Matt Larose (So., G, Nanaimo, British Columbia); Frank Misuraca (Jr., D, Clinton Township, Mich.); Craig Pierce (Sr., F, Roswell, Ga.); Jack Prince (Jr., F, Leicester, England); Doug Reid (Sr., F, Innisfil, Ontario); Ben Reinhardt (Sr., D, Arnprior, Ontario); Regan Soquila (So., F, Maple Ridge, British Columbia); Jeff Vanderlugt (Sr., F, Richmond Hill, Ontario); Anderson White (Jr., D, Caledon, Ontario).

2014-15 WCHA Awards

Player of the Year – Tanner Kero, Sr., F, Michigan Tech
Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year – Tanner Kero, Sr., F, Michigan Tech
Defensive Player of the Year – Colton Parayko, Jr., D, Alaska
Rookie of the Year – Michael Bitzer, Fr., G, Bemidji State
Scoring Champion – Tanner Kero, Sr., F, Michigan Tech
Goaltending Champion – Stephon Williams, Jr., G, Minnesota State
Coach of the Year – Mike Hastings, Minnesota State

2014-15 All-WCHA First Team

Forwards: Tanner Kero, Sr., Michigan Tech; Matt Leitner, Sr., Minnesota State; Tyler Morley, Jr., Alaska
Defensemen: Colton Parayko, Jr., Alaska; Zach Palmquist, Sr., Minnesota State
Goaltender: Jamie Phillips, Jr., Michigan Tech

2014-15 All-WCHA Second Team

Forwards: Bryce Gervais, Jr., Minnesota State; Alex Petan, Jr., Michigan Tech; Malcolm Gould, Jr., Michigan Tech
Defensemen: Matt Prapavessis, Sr., Bemidji State; Casey Nelson, So., Minnesota State
Goaltender: Stephon Williams, Jr., Minnesota State

2014-15 All-WCHA Third Team

Forwards: Blake Pietila, Sr., Michigan Tech; Marcus Basara, So. Alaska; Brendan Harms, So., Bemidji State and Blake Tatchell, Sr., Alaska Anchorage (tied)
Defensemen: Shane Hanna, So., Michigan Tech; Brock Maschmeyer, So., Northern Michigan
Goaltender: CJ Motte, Sr., Ferris State

2014-15 WCHA All-Rookie Team

Forwards: Brandon Hawkins, Bowling Green; C.J. Franklin, Minnesota State; Max McHugh, Alabama Huntsville
Defensemen: Mark Friedman, Bowling Green; Nolan Valleau, Bowling Green
Goaltender: Michael Bitzer, Bemidji State

UAH 5, LSSU 2: It’s Been a Long Time

Hey, UAH won at home tonight!

The last Division I home win was back in January 2011 over our least favorite rodents, Bemidji State, a game where Matt Baxter (Toronto, Ont.) scored two of UAH’s three power-play goals and an unassisted, shorthanded goal by (That Damn) Matt Read wasn’t enough to bring the Beavers level.  It may seem a little painful to think about all what I’ll write next, but I think that it’s important.  Why?  This is another turning point.  This is the way up.  This is our road back to .500.

So the last time UAH won a D-I home game:

So let’s talk about why they won.

“Our PK was 10 for 10, and our power play was 3-for-3,” junior forward Jack Prince (Leicester, England) said.  It’s not often that you can say that your special teams are 100%, and tonight it was for us.  When your special teams are 100%, that’s usually going to be a good result, and for us, tonight, it was.”

Prince’s power-play goal put the nail in the coffin in a 5-2 defeat of WCHA foe Lake Superior State University.  The Lakers fall to 2-10-0 (2-6-0 WCHA) on the season, while the Chargers improve to 2-8-2 (1-5-0).

There were significant changes to the lineup.  Senior defenseman Graeme Strukoff (Chiliwack, B.C.) was in and senior defenseman Ben Reinhardt (Arnprior, Ont.) was out.  Junior defenseman Anderson White (Caledon, Ont.) was in so that sophomore defenseman Brandon Carlson (Huntington Beach, Calif.) could play forward.  Sophomore forward Regan Soquila (Maple Ridge, B.C.) and junior forward Alex Carpenter (Portage, Mich.) left the forward rotation for Carlson and senior forward Jeff Vanderlugt (Richmond Hill, Ont.) respectively.

But the most important lineup move was one that didn’t make a change, as sophomore goaltender Carmine Guerriero (Montréal, Que.) again started in net for the Chargers.  His 23-save effort was enough to move him to 2-4-1 on the season.

For UAH coach Mike Corbett, playing Guerriero both nights was an instinct.  “He was the best player on the ice.  Matt Larose didn’t lose his spot.  [Guerriero]’s playing so well that we just had to give him the extra game.”  Throughout their tenure as a tandem, neither Guerriero nor Larose had started both nights of a weekend, though each had come to relieve the other for the bulk of a start before playing their full game.  The change surprised many, including both Michael and me.

When I spoke with Guerriero late last season, I asked him what he’d be working on over the summer.  I hadn’t even finished the question when he responded with one word: “Conditioning.”  It always felt to me that Corbett felt uneasy about playing either goaltender both nights regardless of the success from the Friday game.  Witness the Air Force weekend: after a solid night on Friday, Carmine gave way to Matt on Saturday, who stopped 36-of-39.  Even after stopping 61 shots in a game last season, Guerriero knew that he’d have to come back stronger for his sophomore campaign.

“I worked hard this summer with my goalie coach, and I think that it paid off, honestly,” Guerriero said.  He was effusive in his praise for his teammates — despite enduring 10 power plays, UAH allowed just 25 shots on goal.  “I was just there in case they needed me.”  When asked if he missed the extra work, he said, “That’s okay.  I like it.  It’s what I’m there for.”

Senior captain Doug Reid (Innisfil, Ont.) was elated after the win.  “It feels great, and it’s been a long time coming,” he said of his first Division I home win.  “We knew that we had to come in and compete.  We really out-worked them, and we got the result that we wanted.”

Reid praised his teammates’ work on the PK.  “We play a very disciplined game when killing penalties.  We know that we’re a defensive team, so our focus is to just get to the puck and get it out.”

The Chargers got goals from five different skaters.  Sophomore forward Cody Marooney (Eden Prairie, Minn.) got the first goal of the night with a shorthanded marker that came most of the way through a bench minor served by Prince for too many men on the ice.  Marooney forced a turnover with pressure and sliced right through the Laker defense and past freshman netminder Gordon Defiel (Stillwater, Minn.), who had just 25 saves on the night.

Freshman defenseman Richard Buri (Nitra, Slovakia) scored fifteen seconds after serving a minor tripping penalty to push the Chargers to 2-0 5:22 into the second period.  Laker goals off of the sticks of senior forward and assistant captain Chris Ciotti (Oxford, Mich.) and sophomore forward Garret Clemment (Wausau, Wisc.) knotted the game up at two apiece with just 3:23 left in the second.

But a tripping penalty by sophomore forward Gus Correale (Prince George, B.C.) set up the Chargers’ power play with their first opportunity of the night after killing seven Laker power plays.  Freshman forward Max McHugh (Seattle, Wash.) made the Lakers pay for their sin a minute into the advantage, and the Chargers would retain a one-goal lead into the third.

The UAH offense would turn into overdrive in the final frame, peppering Defiel with ten shots, including a power-play marker by Vanderlugt in his first action in two weeks.  Prince would roof the puck to finish the Lakers off, laughing off an early miscue.  “I had a wide open net early and hit the post, and I knew then that it would be a long night.”

The Chargers travel to Ferris State next weekend for a tilt against the tough Bulldogs, who nearly doubled their season scoring output with fourteen goals this weekend against Alaska-Anchorage.  “I’m super excited,” Guerriero said.  “It’s a nice rink and very rowdy.  We just want to keep up this momentum that the boys have and pick up two W’s on the road.”

And then there’s Michigan Tech in two weeks, who are the likely #1 when the next round of polls come out, as they defeated Bemidji State tonight to move to 10-0-0 (thanks, boys) while the other unbeaten all lost this weekend.  “I’m excited for that as well,” Guerriero said.  “It’s a challenge, and we want the opportunity to show everyone what we’re capable of.”  The Huskies go to Mankato next weekend to face the Mavericks, and the Verizon Wireless Center is a tough place to play.  That said, the Huskies are rolling right now, and we could have the #1 team in town the day after Thanksgiving.

Michigan Tech 10, UAH 4

If you’d told me at 2:00 p.m. today that UAH would score two power-play goals and four overall, I’d have felt pretty good about the boys’ chances of winning.  Instead, the Michigan Tech Huskies (12-14-6, 10-8-4 WCHA) potted seven second-period goals, which set the UAH school record for most goals allowed in a period.  In all, the teams combined for a modern D-I record 14 goals, with ten of them going to the Huskies (tying the UAH season high for goals allowed) while the boys in Blue and White (1-28-1, 1-18-1 WCHA) scored just four, also a season high.

Let’s just not discuss the goals allowed.  It’s better that way.

The UAH goals were scored by:

  1. Regan Soquila (Maple Ridge, B.C., 2nd goal), who took a feed from Jack Prince (Leicester, England, 3rd assist) low in the slot that gave him an open net for a hot wrister just :44 after the Huskies’ first marker.  Chad Brears (Cold Lake, Alta., 2nd assist) also picked up an assist.
  2. Prince (4th goal), who picked up a feed from Steven Koshey (Trail, B.C., 6th assist) behind the net, skating just along the top of the crease while waiting for Pheonix Copley (19 sv, 8-8-5) to open up; when he did, the Prince of Huntsville back-handed the puck along the ice and into the Tech net.
  3. Prince again (5th goal) on the power play early in the third, tipping a Brears (3rd assist) shot from the point set up by a feed from Koshey (7th assist).  The boys thought that Chad had scored this one, but it was credited to Jack on the video review.
  4. Brears (5th goal) scored a power-play goal on a rebound of a Prince (4th assist) shot.  Alex Allan (Calgary, Alta., 2nd assist) picked up the other assist.

But otherwise, it was a nightmare.  Matt Larose (Nanaimo, B.C., 0-14-1) picked up 35 saves on 42 shots on before leaving the ice in favor of Carmine Guerriero (Montréal, Québec, 12 sv on 15 shots).  Larose was visibly upset as he left the ice, and that’s understandable.

This one was ugly.

Notre Dame 7, UAH 1

Well, we knew that tonight was about being on a national stage.  The UAH cheerleaders should send some kit to Anson Carter, because he sung our praises all night long, starting with Mike Corbett at the top and going through the rest of the lineup.  Unfortunately for the Chargers, those were most of the main highlights on the play on a night that saw Bryan Rust net a hat trick for the Fighting Irish (10-8-1), who got goals from four other players for a 7-1 victory over UAH (1-22-0).

UAH was down early again, with Robbie Russo roofing a puck just :38 in past UAH goaltender Matt Larose (0-12-0, 30SV).  The boys weathered the storm after that, but two goals in 2:05 in the middle of the first left the Chargers facing an 0-3 deficit.

Notre Dame dominated the second period with an 18-4 shots-on-goal advantage, and the score at the end of the middle 20:00 reflected it.  You didn’t feel that the Chargers were out of it until the fifth goal, when the Irish had a power play because of a weak call against Regan Soquila for charging at UND netminder Chad Katunar (2-1-0, 16SV) when he was really just crashing the net and made just incidental contact.  Unfortunately for UAH, Carter was not wearing an orange armband over the killer suit that he was wearing, and you knew that the Chargers, who have now scored just 23 goals on the season, were not going to summon the thunder of Thor to smite the Irish down.

There were two bright spots for the team, and if you’ve followed along, you can guess them.

  1. There was no quit in the Chargers.  We’ve come to expect that.
  2. Matt Salhany (3rd goal) was a factor on the forecheck, scoring a goal in the third when he and linemates Joakim Broberg and Brent Fletcher (3rd assist) were mucking “down in the blue”, as Coach Corbett likes to say, after Graeme Strukoff (2nd assist) fed the puck into the scrum.

The teams face off tomorrow night at 6:05 p.m. Huntsville time.  As always, UAHHockey.com has info on how to keep up with the Chargers’ third and final game against Notre Dame this season.  We hope that you’ll tune in then, when we’ll be hoping for a good Saturday result.