UAH picked to finish 9th in WCHA preseason polls

Kurt Gosselin (Photo by UAH Athletics)

The UAH Chargers were picked to finish ninth in the WCHA this season, according to both the media and coaches preseason polls released Monday.

The Chargers just missed the WCHA playoffs with a ninth-place finish last season.

Both the media and coaches’ polls were identical in ranking the teams. Minnesota State, which returns many of the major players in their league-leading offense, is the overwhelming favorite, with defending MacNaughton Cup champion Bemidji State in second.

In the media poll, UAH’s Kurt Gosselin was named to the preseason all-WCHA first team. Gosselin, who was named all-WCHA third team at the end of last season, received votes for preseason all-WCHA among the coaches.

The media poll was conducted by Geof Morris of UAHHockey.com. The coaches’ poll was conducted by Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press.

2017-18 UAHHockey.com WCHA Men’s Preseason Media Poll
First-place votes in parentheses.

  1. Minnesota State (12), 137 pts.
  2. Bemidji State, 115
  3. Michigan Tech (1), 110
  4. Bowling Green (1), 108
  5. Ferris State, 81
  6. Lake Superior State, 62
  7. Northern Michigan, 59
  8. Alaska, 43
  9. UAH, 36
  10. Alaska Anchorage, 19

Preseason WCHA Player of the Year:
Daniel Brickley, Jr., D, Minnesota State

Preseason All-WCHA First Team:
Mitch McLain, Sr., F, Bowling Green
Marc Michaelis, So., F, Minnesota State
Corey Mackin, Jr., F, Ferris State
Daniel Brickley, Jr., D, Minnesota State
Kurt Gosselin, Jr., D, UAH
Michael Bitzer, Sr., G, Bemidji State

Preseason All-WCHA Second Team:
Gerry Fitzgerald, Sr., F, Bemidji State
C.J. Seuss, Sr., F, Minnesota State
Joel L’Esperance, Sr., F, Michigan Tech
Mitch Reinke, So., D, Michigan Tech
Mark Auk, Sr., D, Michigan Tech
Atte Tolvanen, Jr., G, Northern Michigan

Others receiving votes (listed alphabetically by position): Forwards – Kyle Bauman, Sr., Bemidji State; Gavin Gould, So., Michigan Tech; J.T. Henke, Sr., Lake Superior State; Max Humitz, So., Lake Superior State; Brad McClure, Sr., Minnesota State; Tyler Spezia, Sr., Bowling Green. Defensemen – Clint Lewis, Sr., Minnesota State; Alec Rauhauser, So., Bowling Green; Joe Rutkowski, So., Ferris State; Collin Saccoman, So., Lake Superior State; Ian Scheid, So., Minnesota State; David Trinkberger, So., Alaska Anchorage; Zach Whitecloud, So., Bemidji State; Justin Woods, Sr., Alaska. Goaltenders – Justin Kapelmaster, So., Ferris State; Olivier Mantha, Sr., Alaska Anchorage; Jason Pawloski, Jr., Minnesota State.

2017-18 Mankato Free Press WCHA Men’s Hockey Preseason Coaches’ Poll
First-place votes in parentheses.

  1. Minnesota State (9), 90 pts.
  2. Bemidji State (1), 81
  3. Michigan Tech, 70
  4. Bowling Green, 67
  5. Ferris State, 59
  6. Lake Superior State, 51
  7. Northern Michigan, 40
  8. Alaska, 35
  9. UAH, 29
  10. Alaska Anchorage, 18

Preseason WCHA Player of the Year: 
Daniel Brickley, Jr., D, Minnesota State
Marc Michaelis, So., F, Minnesota State

Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year:
Jake Jaremko, F, Minnesota State

Preseason All-WCHA Team:
Mitch McLain, Sr., F, Bowling Green
Marc Michaelis, So., F, Minnesota State
C.J. Seuss, Sr., F, Minnesota State
Daniel Brickley, Jr., D, Minnesota State
Mark Auk, Sr., D, Michigan Tech
Michael Bitzer, Sr., G, Bemidji State

Others receiving votes (listed alphabetically by position): Forwards – Gerry Fitzgerald, Sr., Bemidji State; J.T. Henke, Sr., Lake Superior State; Corey Mackin, Jr., Ferris State; Tyler Spezia, Sr., Bowling Green. Defensemen – Zach Frye, Sr., D, Alaska; Kurt Gosselin, Jr., Alabama Huntsville; Mitch Reinke, So., Michigan Tech; Ian Scheid, So., Minnesota State. Goaltender – Olivier Mantha, Sr., Alaska Anchorage.

Hoof Beats: Big series for Saulnier earns WCHA award

Brennan Saulnier

Brennan Saulnier

After a three-goal, five point weekend, UAH sophomore forward Brennan Saulnier was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Saulnier had two goals and two assists to lead the Chargers to a 5-2 victory over Connecticut on Saturday, which secured a series split. His first goal tied the game at 2-2 in the first period, and his second extended UAH’s lead to 4-2. The four points were the most by a Charger in a single game since Jack Prince did the feat at Michigan Tech on Feb. 8, 2014.

Saulnier’s goal on Friday in the first period tied the game at 1-1, but the Chargers would ultimately lose 5-2.

The Halifax, Nova Scotia native led all Chargers with 10 shots on goal for the weekend. He also committed three penalties.

It is Saulnier’s second WCHA weekly award. Last season, he won the WCHA Rookie of the Week award after having two assists against Air Force.

hockey-day-huntsville

Click to enlarge

In-state exhibition: UAH hosts the Alabama Frozen Tide club team on Saturday at the Huntsville IcePlex for an exhibition contest. Game time is 6 p.m., with “Skate with the Chargers” following the game.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under and students with ID, and the price includes admission to Skate with the Chargers. UAH students get free skate rental with the purchase of a ticket.

Alabama, coached by former Charger player and assistant coach Mike Quenneville, is playing its first season in ACHA Division I, the highest level in club hockey. Another UAH tie: Senior forward Andre Morard is the son of Gus Morard, who played on UAH’s first club teams from 1979-83.

The game is part of Hockey Day Huntsville at the IcePlex, a celebration of the game in the Rocket City. Youth league games will take place Saturday morning, followed by the Point Mallard Ducks taking on the St. Louis Jr. Blues at 2 p.m. Food trucks will be on hand throughout the day.

Guerriero on Richter watch: Carmine Guerriero has been named to the watch list for the 2016 Mike Richter Award, which goes to the best goaltender in NCAA Division I. The award is presented by Let’s Play Hockey and the Herb Brooks Foundation.

Guerriero was a candidate for the award last season as he posted a .928 save percentage — 14th highest in Division I — and a 2.56 goals against average in 29 starts. Against UConn, he stopped 59 of 65 shots, a .908 save percentage, including 22 straight to finish UAH’s win on Saturday.

WCHA roundup: The WCHA went 5-9-3 in non-conference action in the opening week of the season (not including Michigan Tech’s two exhibition victories). Some of the highlights:

  • Bemidji State, like last year, pulled off an early-season stunner by beating No. 2-ranked Minnesota Duluth in Bemidji on Saturday (the first game in Duluth on Friday was postponed due to a power outage).
  • In the matchup of preseason top-ten teams, Omaha won the Spirit of the Maverick trophy by going into Mankato and taking both games from Minnesota State.
  • No. 16 Bowling Green held serve at home and in Columbus to sweep Ohio State.
  • The Alaska teams went 1-3 in the Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage, including the Alaska Nanooks being Arizona State’s first Division I victim.

Friday, Oct. 9
Connecticut 5, UAH 2
#4 North Dakota 5, Lake Superior State 2 (Ice Breaker at Portland, Maine)
#16 Bowling Green 6, Ohio State 3
Western Michigan 3, Ferris State 2
Northern Michigan 2, Wisconsin 2, OT
#10 Omaha 3, #6 Minnesota State 2
Bemidji State at #2 Minnesota Duluth, postponed (power outage)
St. Cloud State 3, Alaska 0 (Kendall Hockey Classic at Anchorage)
Alaska Anchorage 3, Arizona State 2, OT (Kendall Hockey Classic)
#15 Michigan Tech 5, Laurentian 1 (Exhibition)

Saturday, Oct. 10
UAH 5, Connecticut 2
Michigan State 4, Lake Superior State 1 (Ice Breaker at Portland, Maine)
Western Michigan 1, Ferris State 1, OT
16 Bowling Green 2, Ohio State o
Northern Michigan 3, Wisconsin 3, OT
#10 Omaha 2, #6 Minnesota State 0
Bemidji State 3, #2 Minnesota Duluth 2
Arizona State 2, Alaska 1 (Kendall Hockey Classic at Anchorage)
St. Cloud State 6, Alaska Anchorage 2 (Kendall Hockey Classic)
#15 Michigan Tech 5, Laurentian o (Exhibition)

Bowling Green moved up to No. 10 in this week’s USCHO.com poll. Minnesota State fell to No. 14, and Michigan Tech is at No. 16. Bemidji State, Northern Michigan, and Ferris State all received votes.

Hoof Beats: Chargers sport five jerseys, including ’96 throwbacks

The UAH locker room at the Von Braun Center, displaying the five sweaters the Chargers will wear this season.

The UAH locker room at the Von Braun Center, displaying the five sweaters the Chargers will wear this season. (Photo by UAH Athletics)

UAH revealed the jerseys the Chargers will wear in the 2015-16 season in a photo of their Von Braun Center locker room on Tuesday.

The Chargers will wear five different sweaters this season:

  • Home white: A couple of alterations were made to the white jerseys the Chargers wore the last two seasons. The shoulder yoke is now blue, and the blue stripe on the sleeve and waist is thicker.
  • Road blue: Unchanged.
  • Alternate gray: Unchanged.
  • Alternate black: Black version of the road sweater, with a blue shoulder yoke like  the one on the home white.
  • Throwback: For the first time in program history, the Chargers will wear throwback jerseys. These are the home whites to honor the 20th anniversary of the 1995-96 NCAA Division II national champions.

Michael’s opinion: The home whites look better simply because there is more blue, but I still think there’s too much black with “UAH” and the player number for my taste. I’m thrilled we still have the glorious road blues, because I don’t care much for the alternate blacks at all, although I bet I’m in the minority.

The 1996 Division II national champions. (Photo by UAH Athletics)

The 1996 Division II national champions. (Photo by UAH Athletics)

The throwbacks honoring the 1995-96 Chargers aren’t exact replicas. The throwbacks have the red stripe on the waste along the bottom of the sweater, whereas it was sandwiched between blue stripes in the original. The holes in the word “Alabama” were filled in with red 20 years ago, but not in the throwback (this is an improvement, in my opinion). Also, the number and “C”/”A” on the front suggest the throwback will have the same font as the other current jerseys, not the font from the original. Still, it’s great to see the effort to honor the undefeated national champions in this way. It should stir great memories for longtime UAH fans.

Guerriero on CHN’s All-America team: College Hockey News named UAH’s Carmine Guerriero to its preseason All-America team on Tuesday. The junior was selected as the second-team goaltender.

“Had a .927 save percentage last season while facing more shots per minute than any goaltender in the country. Edges out [Michigan Tech’s] Jamie Phillips and [Boston College’s] Thatcher Demko, who had offseason hip surgery and may miss the early part of the season.”

Chargers on TV: UAH’s home game with Alaska on Jan. 8 will be televised by American Sports Network, select affiliates of the Sinclair Networks Group and on several regional sports networks around the country.

The game is one of two WCHA contests ASN will broadcast as part of a deal to televise 30 college hockey games this season. The deal also includes Hockey East, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, and ECAC Hockey.

Chargers’ 2015-16 schedule released with 18 home games

It's good to be home. (Photo by Chris Brightwell)

It’s good to be home, where UAH will play 18 times in the 2015-16 season. (Photo by Chris Brightwell)

For the first time in 15 years, UAH is scheduled to play more home games than not.

The WCHA released its 2015-16 composite schedule on Monday, and UAH followed with the official revealing of the Chargers’ slate.

The Chargers will have 18 home games for the first time since the 2000-01 season, when UAH hosted the College Hockey America conference tournament. In terms of regular season, it’s the most home games in UAH’s modern Division I era, and the most home games against Division I teams ever. This is an exciting development given the difficulty UAH has securing home non-conference games (see UAH’s recent independent years).

In addition to the 28-game WCHA schedule, UAH will have three non-conference series, two at home, representing Hockey East and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

UAH opens the season at home for the first time since 2012 with the first of three non-conference series, Oct. 9-10 against Connecticut. UConn last came to Huntsville as a member of Atlantic Hockey to open the Chargers’ 2003-04 season, but now the Huskies represent Hockey East. UConn was expected to struggle transitioning to the East’s premier conference in its first season in 2014-15, but finished in a tie for ninth and look to be a program on the rise.

Homecoming at hockey is back as the Chargers open league play at home against Alaska-Anchorage on Oct. 23-24. UAH won both games against UAA in Huntsville last season as the Seawolves struggled to last place in the WCHA.

The Chargers hit the road for the first time at Lake Superior State, where they earned three critical points last season on the way to a WCHA playoff spot. UAH then hosts their playoff opponent from last season, Michigan Tech, on Nov. 6-7. Tech, one of three opponents who reached the NCAA tournament last season, swept the Chargers in Houghton in two games, the first being the 1-0 triple overtime marathon that saw Carmine Guerriero make 76 saves.

Bemidji State returns to Huntsville for rounds 77 of 78 of the Chargers-Beavers rivalry on Thanksgiving weekend. Rounds 79 and 80 will be in Bemidji on Feb. 26-27.

On Dec. 18-19, Colorado College comes to Huntsville after the Chargers visited Colorado Springs to open the 2014-15 campaign. The Tigers finished last in the powerful NCHC, but managed two one-goal wins over UAH, both on third-period goals.

The Chargers ring in 2016 at one of the storied programs in college hockey. UAH visits North Dakota for the first time since 1989, when the Chargers lost 12-6 and 11-5. UND, owners of seven national championships, won the NCHC regular season title and reached the Frozen Four last month.

All but six of the Chargers’ home games come before the New Year, meaning UAH will see a lot of travel down the stretch. UAH has only one series in January, February, and March. The Charges host Alaska on Jan. 8-9, defending WCHA champion and NCAA tournament participant Minnesota State on Feb. 12-13, and Bowling Green on March 4-5 to finish the regular season.

The Chargers go to the state of Alaska once, a late-January set in Anchorage.

Season ticket and Blue Line Club information will be released over the summer. For more information, call 256-UAH-PUCK.

Here is the 2015-16 UAH Charger hockey schedule. Home games are in bold, all starting at 7:07 p.m.

Oct. 9-10 – Connecticut
Oct. 23-24 – Alaska Anchorage*
Oct. 30-31 – Lake Superior State*
Nov. 6-7 – Michigan Tech*
Nov. 20-21 – Bowling Green*
Nov. 27-28 – Bemidji State*
Dec. 4-5 – Northern Michigan*
Dec. 11-12 – Minnesota State*
Dec. 18-19 – Colorado College
Jan. 1-2 – North Dakota
Jan. 8-9 – Alaska*
Jan. 15-16 – Ferris State*
Jan. 29-30 – Alaska Anchorage*
Feb. 12-13 – Minnesota State*
Feb. 19-20 – Northern Michigan*
Feb. 26-27 – Bemidji State*
March 4-5 – Bowling Green*

March 11-13 – WCHA Quarterfinals (at top four seeds)
March 18-19 – WCHA Final Five (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
March 25-27 – NCAA Tournament Regionals
April 7-9 – NCAA Frozen Four (Tampa, Fla.)

* WCHA game.

 

Series Preview: WCHA Quarterfinals at Michigan Tech, March 13-15

CATCHING THE GAMES
Times: Game 1: 6:07 p.m. CT Friday
Game 2: 6:07 p.m. CT Saturday
Game 3*: 6:07 p.m. CT Sunday
* if necessary
Watch it: WCHA.tv (subscription)
Hear it: Pasty.net
Stats: CollegeHockeyStats.net
Twitter: @weloveuahhockey, @uahhockey, @mtuhky@TechHockeyGuide

As playoff debuts go, this will be tough. Very tough.

UAH makes its first-ever WCHA postseason appearance this weekend with a best-of-3 series at No. 4 Michigan Tech, where the Chargers have simply had problems against the Huskies.

It’s playoff hockey, and strange things can happen, but it’s safe to say that the Chargers are huge underdogs in this series. UAH is the seventh seed, and Michigan Tech is the second seed.

Game 1 is Friday night, game 2 is Saturday night, and, if necessary, a deciding game 3 would be Sunday night. All games are scheduled to start at 6:07 p.m. CDT.

All-time series: The Chargers are 0-6 all-time against the Huskies, and are 0-4 in Houghton. UAH was blown out in both games there in late January this season by scores of 5-0 and 11-1. In 2013-14, the Chargers lost 4-1 and 10-4 at Houghton. That’s a combined score of 30-6 for the Huskies on their home ice.

The two games in Huntsville over Thanksgiving weekend were a bit closer, with Tech winning 4-2 and 5-2.

Brandon Carlson

Brandon Carlson, who scored UAH’s goal on Saturday, is second in the nation with 83 blocked shots. (Photo by Todd Pavlack/BGSUHockey.com)

Charger recap: UAH (8-24-4 overall, 7-20-1 WCHA) saw its losing streak extended to six to finish the regular season by being swept at Bowling Green.

On Friday, the Falcons scored two in the first, two in the second, and three in the third to win 7-2. Two Max McHugh goals in the third period averted the shutout.

Saturday’s game was tighter, but Bowling Green found a way to win 2-1. Brandon Carlson’s goal in the first period erased a 1-0 lead for the Falcons, who retook the lead late in the same period and held on the rest of the way. Matt Larose had his best start of the season, stopping 26 of 28 shots.

McHugh, named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team on Thursday, has 23 points on 12 goals and 11 assists to lead the Chargers. He has the most points by a UAH player since the 2006-07 season.

Other top scorers for UAH: Chad Brears (3-12-15), Jack Prince (5-9-14), Brandon Parker (0-14-14), Jeff Vanderlugt (6-7-13), Frank Misuraca (6-6-12).

Starting goaltender Carmine Guerriero had his worst start of the season last Friday, his 11th straight start in a row. He comes into the postseason with a 2.69 goals against average and a .923 save percentage, which is still fifth-best in the WCHA.

UAH Tale of the tape
(WCHA rank)
MTU
8-24-4
7-20-1 WCHA (8th)
Record 26-8-2
21-5-2 WCHA (2nd)
1.72 (9th) Goals/game 3.64 (1st)
3.25 (9th) Goals allowed/game 1.78 (1st)
15.5 (2nd) Pen. minutes/game 12.2 (8th)
16.2% (6th) Power play 21.2% (2nd)
81.5% (8th) Penalty kill 85.0% (6th)

About the Huskies: Michigan Tech (26-8-2 overall, 21-5-2 WCHA) fell one point short of Minnesota State in the race for the MacNaughton Cup, but the fourth-ranked Huskies are 10-1-1 in their last 12 after a home-and-home sweep of U.P. rival Northern Michigan to finish the regular season. Tech will be hosting a WCHA playoff series for the first time in 22 years.

Senior foward Tanner Kero was named the league’s Player of the Year after winning the WCHA scoring title with 34 points in 28 conference games. Kero, an All-WCHA First Team selection, is tied for 10th in the nation with 43 points on 18 goals and 25 assists. He totaled nine points against UAH in the four games this season.

Joining Kero on the All-WCHA First Team is goaltender Jamie Phillips. The junior and Winnipeg Jets prospect is second in the league in goals against average (1.76) and top the WCHA in save percentage (.935).

Two junior forwards, Alex Petan and Malcolm Gould, made the All-WCHA Second Team. Petan has 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists), followed by Gould’s 31 (14, 17).

New Jersey Devils draftee Blake Pietila is close behind with 13 goals and 15 assists for 28 points, putting him on the All-WCHA Third Team. Sophomore defenseman Shane Hanna also made the Third Team.

Around the WCHA: Here are the other three WCHA quarterfinal series this weekend. The winners of the best-of-3 series will go to the WCHA Final Five at the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on March 20-21. All times are Central and all games can be seen online on WCHA TV.

No. 8 Lake Superior State at No. 1 Minnesota State
Game 1: Friday, 7:07 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, 7:07 p.m.
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, 7:07 p.m.

No. 6 Northern Michigan at No. 3 Bowling Green
Game 1: Friday, 6:07 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, 6:07 p.m.
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, 6:07 p.m.

No. 5 Ferris State at No. 4 Bemidji State
Game 1: Friday, 7:37 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, 7:07 p.m.
Game 3 (if necessary), 5:07 p.m.