Mavs deny UAH upset bid in OT

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Feb 092018
 

C.J. Seuss scored 27 seconds into overtime as Minnesota State beat UAH 3-2 on Friday night at the Von Braun Center.

The fifth-ranked Mavericks (22-7-0 overall, 18-5-0 WCHA) had tied the game at 2-2 with 2:10 left in regulation to win their sixth straight game and deny the Chargers a major upset.

BOX SCORE | PHOTO GALLERY

UAH (10-19-2 overall, 9-14-2 WCHA) had quickly erased a 1-0 deficit with two goals on their first two shots of the third period, looking to end a 24-game winless streak against Minnesota State dating back to 2002.

The Chargers remain in sixth place in the WCHA with Alaska’s loss to Northern Michigan, who stayed one point ahead of Minnesota State atop the league standings.

 

The series finale is Saturday night at 7:07 p.m.

The Mavericks exercised their will with the puck early on, but could not find the net despite getting the first eight shots on Jordan Uhelski.

UAH did start to get in a groove late in the first, making MSU goaltender Connor LaCouvee get to work. The Chargers, thanks in part to a late power play, were able to pull even in shots, 10-10, at the end of the period.

The Mavericks dominated possession in the second period, outshooting the Chargers 17-2. They got help from four UAH penalties, including back-to-back calls against Tyler Poulsen and Brandon Parker that put MSU up two men with over a minute.

UAH survived that surge, thanks to Uhelski. Among his 16 saves in the period included an odd-man rush with Marc Michaelis out of the box after a Charger power play, a C.J. Seuss shorthanded chance on that same power play, and denying Brad McClure, Mcihaelis, and Seuss back-to-back-to-back in a matter of seconds.

However, Uhelski could not stop them all. With 4:22 left in the second, Uhelski saved a Dallas Gerads shot, but the rebound came right to a unabated, driving Parker Tuomie in the slot. Tumoie pounced and scored for a 1-0 Minnesota State lead.

UAH came out for the third period with two goals on two shots to quickly take the lead.

Kurt Gosselin scored his fifth goal of the season at the 1:14 mark, assisted by Jordan Larson (his first point of the season) and Hans Gorowsky (his seventh helper).

At 2:35, freshman Christian Rajic beat LaCouvee from the right circle for his ninth goal of the season. Madison Dunn and Josh Kestner with the assists.

UAH tried to survive the Maverick barrage as long as they could, but MSU tied the game with 2:10 left in regulation. Parker Tuomie found Marc Michaelis in the slot, and his deflection beat Uhelski high.

That set up Seuss and his 16th goal of the season on MSU’s first shot on goal in overtime, giving the Mavericks the sigh of relief. It was the first overtime game for MSU this season.

Uhelski finished with 39 saves, the fifth straight game he has made 30 or more. UAH was outshot 42-19.

Preview: UAH vs. #5 Minnesota State

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Feb 082018
 

Where: Propst Arena, Von Braun Center, Huntsville, Ala.
When: Friday, 7:07 p.m.; Saturday, 7:07 p.m.
Watch: WCHA.tv
Team stats: UAH | Minnesota State

Jordan Uhelski

Jordan Uhelski makes the save against NMU. (Photo by Todd Thompson / RiverCat Photography)

Charger update: UAH (10-18-2 overall, 9-13-2 WCHA) moved back into sixth place in the WCHA standings after a series split with No. 19 Northern Michigan at the VBC last weekend.

The Chargers lost the opener 4-3 on a late goal but rebounded to win the second game 4-2.

Josh Kestner scored three goals against NMU, two in Sunday’s win, to reach 20 for the season, becoming the first Charger in 13 years to do so. He leads the WCHA in goals scored.

Tyler Poulsen also had three goals against the Wildcats, along with an assist. Poulsen has a five-game point-scoring streak, totaling seven points in this stretch.

Jordan Uhelski made 31 saves on Saturday and 34 on Sunday. He has made 30-plus saves in four straight games. His .918 save percentage in conference play is second in the WCHA, and his .913 save percentage overall is first.

UAH can clinch a WCHA playoff spot with four points or if Lake Superior gives four points in the last four games.

Players to watch:
Josh Kestner (Sr., F, 20 goals-6 assists-26 points in 30 games played)
Tyler Poulsen (Jr., F, 9-14-23 in 28 GP)
Christian Rajic (Fr., F, 8-6-14 in 28 GP)
Kurt Gosselin (Jr., D, 4-10-14 in 30 GP)
Jordan Uhelski (Sr., G, 2.81 goals against average, .913 save percentage in 25 starts)

About the Mavericks: Minnesota State (21-7-0 overall, 17-5-0 WCHA) swept Alaska Anchorage at home last week to reach the 20-win plateau for the sixth straight season. MSU moved up to fifth in both the USCHO and USA Today polls.

The Mavericks, with home ice in the first round already locked down, sit in second place in the WCHA standings, one point behind Northern Michigan. MSU has two games in hand, however.

MSU hosted UAH back on Dec. 15-16, with the Mavericks handily dispatching the Chargers 5-1 and 3-0. C.J. Seuss scored four goals as the Mavericks outshot UAH 73-31 in the series.

The Mavericks sport five of the WCHA’s top eight scorers in conference play. Seuss leads the club in goals, Zeb Knutson leads in assists, and Jake Jaremko is likely running away with this season’s WCHA Rookie of the Year award. They lead an offense that is tops in the league by over a goal per game ahead of second-place Bowling Green and Northern Michigan.

Connor LaCouvee leads the league in overall goals against average and is just behind Uhelski in save percentage. Junior Jason Pawloski has made 11 starts between the pipes with a 2.56 goals against and two shutouts.

Defenseman Daniel Brickley is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He was hurt last Saturday against Alaska Anchorage.

Players to watch:
Zeb Knutson (Sr., F, 13-20-33 in 28 GP)
C.J. Seuss (Sr., F, 15-17-32 in 28 GP, Winnipeg Jets prospect)
Jake Jaremko (Fr., F, 10-19-29 in 29 GP)
Daniel Brickley (Jr., D, 7-19-26 in 28 GP)
Connor LaCouvee (Sr., G, 1.81 GAA, .913 SV%, 3 SHO in 17 starts)

UAH Tale of the tape
(per game averages)
Minnesota State
10-18-2 Overall record 21-7-0
9-13-2 WCHA record 17-5-0
2.62 (7th) Goals/game 4.18 (1st)
3.00 (T-6th) Goals allowed/game 2.23 (T-1st)
15.9 (3rd) Penalty minutes 15.6 (5th)
17.5% (6th) Power play 28.6% (1st)
81.7% (6th) Penalty kill 84.9% (1st)
WCHA rank in parentheses, conference games only

 

Series notes: Minnesota State leads the overall series 31-19-7. The Mavericks are 20-0-4 in the last 24 meetings against the Chargers, who last won on Jan. 4, 2002. UAH still maintains a 13-12-3 advantage in Huntsville.

Promotions: On Friday, the first 500 fans get a free UAH Hockey trading card set courtesy of Colonial Printing.

On Saturday, the first 500 fans get a free UAH Hockey team photo courtesy of SportsMED Orthopedics.

Free general admission is available to all home games, courtesy of Huntsville International Airport.

This week in the WCHA: All times are Central. Games featuring WCHA teams at home can be seen on WCHA.tv.

Friday, Feb. 9
#5 Minnesota State at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at Michigan Tech, 6:07 p.m.
Alaska at #20 Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State at Alaska Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 10
#5 Minnesota State at UAH, 7:07 p.m.
Bemidji State at Michigan Tech, 4:07 p.m.
Alaska at #20 Northern Michigan, 6:07 p.m.
Lake Superior State at Alaska Anchorage, 10:07 p.m.

Hoof Beats: Magic numbers

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Feb 062018
 
Josh Kestner

Josh Kestner gets a shot off against NMU. (Photo by Todd Thompson / RiverCat Photography)

Sunday’s 4-2 win over Northern Michigan was a critical step toward the Chargers going back to the WCHA playoffs for the first time since 2015.

The victory vaulted UAH back into sixth place with 30 points and four games to go. They are one point ahead of seventh-place Alaska and two points ahead of eighth-place Ferris State. The top eight go to the playoffs.

UAH is nine points clear of ninth-place Lake Superior State, which stayed alive with an unexpected sweep at Bemidji State last weekend. Lake Superior also has four games to play.

(How big was Lake Superior winning that series? If Bemidji State had swept, UAH would have clinched a spot already and the eight-team playoff field would have been determined save for seeding.)

UAH’s magic number to clinch a WCHA playoff spot is four points. This means if UAH earns four points, Lake Superior State gives four points, or any combination thereof totals four points, the Chargers will be in the WCHA playoffs.

The Chargers host fifth-ranked Minnesota State this weekend, while Lake Superior State goes to last-place Alaska Anchorage. Both teams are off next week. UAH hosts Bowling Green and Lake Superior State is at Ferris State in the final week of the regular season (Feb. 23-24).

Where UAH finally lands as anyone’s guess. The Chargers could finish as high as fourth — which would mean playing at home in the quarterfinals — but UAH would need a lot of help to catch and surpass both Michigan Tech and Bemidji State (which has two games in hand).

Most Goals in a Season
UAH Modern D-I era*
1 Bruce Mulherin (2004-05) 24
2 Jared Ross (2004-05) 22
3 Nathan Bowen (1999-00) 21
3 Jared Ross (2002-03) 21
5 Josh Kestner (2017-18) 20
* Since the 1999-2000 season

20: Josh Kestner scored his 19th and 20th goals of the season on Sunday, becoming the first Charger to score 20 or more since Bruce Mulherin and Jared Ross did it in the 2004-05 season.

Kestner has a chance to break the UAH modern Division I era record for goals in a season, which is 24 set by Mulherin in 2004-05. He could also break the modern D-I era record for goals by a senior, which is 22 set by Ross, also in 2004-05.

Kestner also has scored 40 goals in his UAH career, the sixth Charger in the modern Division I era to do so. (The record is 73 by Jared Ross from 2001-05.)

4.0: Ted Rotenberger and John Teets represented the hockey team among the 64 student-athletes honored for earning a 4.0 GPA in the fall or spring semester in 2017.

The athletes were recognized Monday at Spragins Hall during halftime of the Charger men’s basketball game.

300: Sunday’s victory was the 300th varsity win at the Von Braun Center. Since the first varsity season of 1985-86, UAH is 300-178-36 at home.

Blue Line Club luncheon: There will be a Blue Line Club luncheon this Friday at noon in the Varsity Room at Spragins Hall. Several UAH seniors and coach Mike Corbett will discuss this weekend’s series against Minnesota State. Bojangles’ will be catering.

Chargers earn big 10th win over No. 19 NMU

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Feb 042018
 
Tyler Poulsen

Tyler Poulsen scores his second-period goal. (Photo by Todd Thompson/RiverCat Photography)

The Chargers got a huge win Sunday in their battle for a WCHA playoff spot, beating No. 19 Northern Michigan 4-2 at the Von Braun Center to earn a series split.

The Chargers (10-18-2 overall, 9-13-2 WCHA) got their first double-digit win season since the 2009-10 campaign, and moved back into sixth place in the WCHA standings with four games to go. UAH is five points behind fifth-place Michigan Tech, one point up on Alaska, and two up on Ferris State.

BOX SCORE | PHOTO GALLERY

“When you play the top teams in the league, the best players have to be your best players,” UAH head coach Mike Corbett said. “And our best players were our best players, starting with Uhelski to Gosselin and Knight to Kestner and Poulsen. And Hans Gorowksy was his normal self.”

Goaltender Jordan Uhelski fought off a fierce NMU attack, stopping 34 of 36 Wildcat shots on goal.

 

“I feel tired, but ecstatic for the team and the guys,” Uhelski said. “I thought that was one of the best games we played all season, from the drop of the puck, to when we were up by two and they get one, to really be resilient and make sure we get that next one.”

“He played fantastic,” Corbett said of Uhelski. “And we need that in order to beat the top teams in the league.”

The Chargers got huge contributions from their top offensive players, Josh Kestner and Tyler Poulsen, who each got two goals.

“Our coach always said this is playoff time, even though it’s not necessarily the playoffs,” Kestner said. “We like to treat these last remaining games as playoffs. After last night’s loss, we moved to eighth, and after tonight’s win, we moved to sixth, so that’s a huge push going into the Mankato series next weekend.”

NMU, which stayed one point ahead of Minnesota State atop the league standings, fell to 18-11-3 overall and 16-6-2 in the WCHA.

The Chargers wanted to be faster after Saturday night’s 4-3 loss, and they were at the start.

Poulsen put UAH on the board first at the 2:05 mark, a snapper during a 2-on-1 break. Max McHugh got the assist.

“Getting the first goal is always an objective of our team,” Poulsen said. “I just put one off the glass, their D pinched and he bounced off the wall and it just came to me and we had a 2-on-1. He took the pass, and I took the shot, then it went in and the boys got hyped right away.”

Northern Michigan tied the game up with 6:43 remaining in the first. Philip Beaulieu fired from inside the blue line, just getting under the crossbar.

The Wildcats had several chances to take the lead in the second period with four power plays. Seven of NMU’s 15 shots in the period were with the man advantage.

Seven of those shots were also by NMU’s and the WCHA’s leading scorer, Troy Loggins, who was denied twice by Uhelski on breakaways.

“When someone gets a breakaway and you’re the goalie, you know that it’s a one-on-one,” Uhelski said. “It’s you versus him. Just with the support from the team that I get on a daily basis, I try to do a little extra and focus a little harder to make that save. If they score, that’s a difference maker. You make the save, that’s a difference maker.

“It’s just trying having your team’s back like they have had mine all year.”

The Chargers only got three shots on goal, but also had the only goal to retake the lead. On the power play, Kestner blasted a one-timer from the left circle for his 19th goal of the season at the 11:31 mark.

“It’s just my one-timer side,” the right-winger Kestner said. “Usually the left-handed guys are on the other side, too. I’ve a lot of good D partners that feed me a pass right in the slot, and I just let it go and hope it goes in.”

That D partner this time was Brandon Parker, who tallied his sixth assist of the year, and Poulsen got his team-leading 14th assist.

Poulsen got his second goal of the game and ninth of the season on a breakaway with 9:47 left in the 3rd, giving UAH a 3-1 lead.

“I saw the puck in the middle and the D was trying to beat me to it,” Poulsen said. “I just poke checked it past him and was off to the races after that. I ended up breaking free, making a good move, and he bit.”

NMU would not go quietly in the third period. Robbie Payne knocked in a rebound on the power play to cut UAH’s lead to 3-2 with 5:27 left.

The Wildcats pulled goaltender Atte Tolvanen (11 saves) late for an extra attacker, and UAH got a power play after a Denver Pierce boarding penalty with 41 seconds left.

From there, after a couple of close calls with NMU having the extra attacker, Kestner was able to get a breakaway and score on the empty net for his 20th goal of the season with 3.7 seconds left to seal the victory.

“Not even close,” Kestner responded when asked if he imagined getting 20 goals at this point of the season. “I go day to day, game to game.”

Kestner is the first Charger to get 20 goals since the 2004-05 season when Bruce Mulherin had 24, which is also UAH’s modern Division I record, and Jared Ross scored 22.

“It was a good game,” Corbett said. “We didn’t chase the scoreboard tonight. We were ahead of the scoreboard most of the time, and it was nice for us to be able to play that way.

“We executed better. Our boys play hard. When the puck’s moving and we’re more efficient, we’re playing faster. It’s moving the puck and getting the puck up the ice. We moved the puck a heck of a lot better and forced them to chase us a little bit.”

UAH hosts Minnesota State, which was ranked No. 7 in the country in last week’s poll and is fighting for the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular-season champion, next Friday and Saturday nights at Propst Arena. The Chargers will be looking to carry the result of this series as they fight to clinch a playoff spot for the first time in three years.

“This is a huge confidence booster,” Kestner said. “It’s one of those things where if we had gotten swept, we wouldn’t have been too motivated, too prepared for the upcoming weekend, but we’re ready to go. We don’t want to embarrass our fans on our home ice.”

“We’re looking forward to them coming in,” Uhelski said. “Although this was a great win, we’re not satisfied until we have an ‘x’ next to our name and we have a playoff spot.”

“We got to keep working on our fundamentals and keep everything simple,” Poulsen said. “The more we complicate things, the more we turn pucks over and get in trouble. They’re a good team coming in, so we’re looking to get one against them.”