(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)
Today, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville played a lot more complete of a game against the Huskies of Michigan Tech. Like in their last series finale against Lake Superior State, this team went down 2-0, this time on a power play and a long point shot goal. After that, these Chargers reminded us again that the past is not prologue for this group. They fought over the last part of the first period resulting in a Noah Finstrom goal from some hard work in front of the net. His first collegiate coal was the final marker of the game as the Huskies took the finale 2-1.
With that said, these Chargers are more than the box score. While we imagine Head Coach Lance West was not a fan of the result today, the effort he saw from this group definitely was. The second two periods were played pretty evenly for parts, and others had the Chargers controlling play. They did everything but score a goal in the last two periods and the total shot attempts for the night prove it. The Chargers out attempted the Huskies 52-46. With that said, 22 of those salvos were blocked, and 10 went wide. If one only noticed the top line stats, they would not grasp the magnitude of this result for Alabama Huntsville.
Effort, and What Comes Next
Every coach that we have talked to for this team has lead us to one word, effort. That is the singular word by which these Chargers look to rise up the table in the WCHA this year, and prove, once again, that they belong in the Division One Level of Men’s College Hockey. There were many effort plays by Alabama Huntsville today that will not show up in the box score for the amount of momentum and energy brought their way,.
The best example of that effort came from Connor Wood in the second period. After Connor Merkley took a defensive zone penalty for tripping, Wood and Tyrone Bronte lead the penalty kill onto the ice. Bronte won the faceoff and was able to get the puck out of the zone. Next, Connor Wood raced down to the offensive zone and nearly won the puck on a shorthanded chance. His pace forced Eric Gotz of the Huskies to either play him straight up, or take a penalty to prevent a shorthanded chances. Wood earned some four-on-four time for his team instead of facing a power play that had already put one home on them today
Of course UAH fans want their team to win games, as fans of teams in every sport do, all of the time. With that said, these Chargers are building something greater, designed to start a new chapter for this program with happier endings than it has had over the past decade. With that said, remember that with this being a pandemic year, meaning that everyone has the option to have an extra year of eligibility, combined with the culture of this team, what you saw on the ice from this team is a launching pad to something greater in the future. Every day West and his staff preach zero excuses, and care about development. That fact has already paid off in multiple on-ice areas for these Chargers. More importantly, the culture of the team has already taken shape. That is, their mentality. Not many nights over last season did the Chargers get behind and have the belief that they could come back. The new culture, and the buy in of the returners, combined with a recruiting class full of people passed over by most other Division One schools, has already changed that.
As to their next opponent, finally, the Chargers are set to head home to the Von Braun Center and face the Bulldogs of Ferris State next weekend. Despite losing both games, the Bulldogs are more than capable of playing with these Chargers, and are getting back their World Juniors netminder in Logan Stein this week. That should reinforce the defense for them a bit. The Bulldogs are looking to prove their doubters wrong, and we picked them near the bottom of the conference to start the season. They outshot the Falcons of Bowling Green on Friday night despite losing to them 6-1. How Stein plays upon his return coupled with the improvement of a young team that was sitting home during the postseason, like these Chargers, will determine the fate of the Bulldogs.
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