How to win a game in 90 seconds: Force defeat Stampede 4-3

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Coming into tonight’s USHL skirmish between the Fargo Force, and Sioux Falls Stampede, both teams had something to prove. The Force setout to lay claim to their fourth win in six games and grow their Western Conference lead, while the Stampede were aiming to get back to .500 on the season.

While Fargo had the last laugh tonight, things took awhile to get there.

After a first period where the Force controlled everything but the score, generating 14 shots on opposing netminder Trent Burnham to a mere five on Force netminder Brennan Boynton, it looked like the Force would take control of things in the second period. They did not, as Sioux Falls forward Michael Citara would get going towards a hat trick as he would score the next three goals after Jeremy Davidson opened things up on the power play.

The Providence commit looked to be the story of the evening as he was the star of the show. His line dominated play for every time they were on the ice, and in addition to that, the rest of the Stampede looked to bottle the Force’s quick strike offense up.

The plan almost worked

Then, St. Cloud State commit, Mason Salquist, got things rolling with a snipe 13:41 into the the third. Next, a mere 48 seconds later, Kyle Smolen pounced on a loose puck in the Sioux Falls end and fired one home to make it a tie game. Scheels Arena, with its socially distant crowd was rocking.

Owen Gallatin would then provide the game winning goal 15:12 into the final frame. He took a feed from Michael Suda and put the game back into the lead for the Force, and provided the final 4-3 margin.

This game showed a lot about both teams. For Fargo, it showed their continued resilience and ability to battle back through the face of adversity. The Force were really the better team for a five miute stretch to end the game, and in the heavy shot first period. Sioux Falls showed how their veteran side can grind down opponents and what they can do to start up after a slow beginning.

They also showed how they are vulnerable with turnovers and over reactionary play at times leading to bad results. It is only the sixth game of the season for these teams, and the playoffs are a long way away. Both have a lot to like, yet both team’s coaches will scratch their heads at points of this game. Bookmark this rivalry for later as both of these teams will play each other many more times this season.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, and underdogs everywhere, including in junior hockey, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the amateur sports landscape please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

UAH Hockey: 17 Million Reasons to be Happy-Players Take Notice

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

This week, major news regarding the future of Alabama Huntsville’s only Division One offering, Men’s Hockey was announced. It involved getting a fund for this program of 17 million over the next decade to give this team a sound institutional commitment to not only funding the program, but funding it at a level that will allow the Chargers to fight at the highest echelons of the Division One level. That means 1.7 million dollars per year is the base level of support this team will have, a marked increase from previous seasons.

Why does this matter?

Well, for years this program has had to make due with less. Now, with the advisory group formed, lead by alums Sheldon Wolitski and Taso Sofikitis, things are changing. They helped marshal the initial investment needed to get this team on the ice for this year, and are now working to get them a long-term conference home. The two conferences most realistic for UAH to apply to join are Atlantic Hockey, and the CCHA. Both of these conferences require that foundation of institutional backing, which the board has helped secure. The next step for the board and team is to get a new home beyond this year.

Now, what does this donation mean to some of the players on the roster?

Well, as one would expect, quite a lot, but we will let two skaters tell their tales. Keep in mind, these players could have left during the period where the aforementioned alums and those in the hockey world were raising money to reinstate it, but they did not. The Chargers drop the puck one week from today against Robert Morris.

First, we bring you the thoughts of Peyton Francis, a sophomore center who plays a fast, two way game, and hopes to add a lot more to the scoring ledger in his second season in the Rocket City. We reached out to these players and both responded on the day of this momentous announcement, November 11.

Peyton says:

“The news today is phenomenal. It is awesome to know that people are as committed to us and the UAH program as we are to the team and university. It is great to know that we have so much support in growing the game of hockey in south. We have been working hard to lead the program in a new direction and the fact that the staff, alumni and hockey community is working along with us adds that much more fuel to our fire. The team is extremely excited for the season to get started and we look forward to paving the way for the upcoming generation of UAH hockey!”

Next is one of the juniors tasked to help lead this team, Tyr Thompson. He is a pass-first, defense oriented forward that, like Peyton, wants to see his production grow. Tyr plays a truculent game and routinely outworks players on many situations per each event.

Tyr said

“The very generous financial commitment by our alumni and the following commitment by the university is exciting news. Knowing we have people supporting us behind the scenes is going to make me and my teammates put our best foot forward every day. We want this team to be elite for years to come and now we have the framework in place to do that. Being the only Division I team in the southeast we’ve been given a great opportunity to keep growing the greatest game in the world in a non-traditional market. Now it’s up to the guys in the locker room to build on the ice and I can’t wait to tackle this challenge head on.”

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape, please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

UAH-Robert Morris: A Battle of the unknown

(Photo Credit-Kelsey Lee Violet Turtle Photography)

This season in men’s college hockey will be like no other. Schedules have changed, travel limited, and most teams will be playing only teams in their conference. The opener for the Chargers has them playing a rare true non conference game against the Colonials of Robert Morris. This team competes in the always competitive Atlantic Hockey Association. Like the Chargers, the Colonials have a big group of new players coming in, with nine new additions to their roster. The Chargers, with new Head Coach Lance West, have 13 additions to their roster.

Reading through bios of players West helped recruit in the short time of tumult after the program was saved for this season, there seems to be a theme to the 12 skaters West brought to Huntsville. They are all team first, mostly two way players that will annoy the stuffing out of other teams. Watching some of them, like Yardley Pennsylvania native Frank Vittuci play in the OJHL for the Wellington Dukes, it is more evident that West is looking to this group to be the new tradition for the Chargers. The team has been in talks with Atlantic Hockey about joining after this season, and has a history of hardworking programs combined with unique and elite academics in key areas that make them a worthy candidate to join this conference next year. “Frank was an early target as he is a natural goal scorer,” SUNY Geneseo said on its Twitter account yesterday. “His breakaway speed and hockey IQ make him an instant threat.”Reading through bios of players West helped recruit in the short time of tumult after the program was saved for this season, there seems to be a theme to the 12 skaters West brought to Huntsville. They are all team first, mostly two way players that will annoy the stuffing out of other teams. Watching some of them, like Yardley Pennsylvania native Frank Vittuci play in the OJHL for the Wellington Dukes, it is more evident that West is looking to this group to be the new tradition for the Chargers. The team has been in talks with Atlantic Hockey about joining after this season, and has a history of hardworking programs combined with unique and elite academics in key areas that make them a worthy candidate to join this conference next year.

Back to Vittuci for a minute, he put up 108 points in 105 games with his Dukes and was not given a chance at the Division One Level until West brought him on this summer. The Division Three school that he had comitted to before a Division One look was given, SUNY Geneseo said ““Frank was an early target as he is a natural goal scorer…His breakaway speed and hockey IQ make him an instant threat.”

West has a roster of high character and high talent players that no one seems to have given much of a chance elsewhere at this level to play. Going back to the first series, which will happen on November 20, and 21st, what should you be looking to see from this team?

Well, West seems to want to replace the departed players with similarly tough players that can put up numbers with speed. The Chargers’ roster reads similarly to a school like Lake Superior State. Strong goaltending with David Fessenden, combined with a big bruising defense lead by newcomers like Ayodele Adeniye all go to how this team will play. If West sees what former bench boss, and current Colonials Assistant, Mike Corbett does, that the gap for most college hockey players between Division Three and one, this could be an interesting season for the Chargers. One of their biggest issues last year was staying out of the box, something that this team has to improve on, along with limiting quality shots. While UND beat this team 5-2 both nights last year, a lot of players from that team that provided the grit are still here. UAH was never blown out by a team that could have won a national championship because its structure guides how it plays.

Finally, when you watch this team play, remember, things will change, especially early on this season. 13 newcomers will come in and out of the lineup, and West knows what wining at UAH looks like from his time as a player here, and knows what needs to happen to secure a future for this team, in a town full of devoted fans to its success.

NOTE: We will be writing about UAH Hockey this year as part of the teams we cover, if you are a business or individual and want to help sponsor what we do and get new impressions around Chargers Hockey, click our paypal link here and send us a message about potential sponsorships.