UAH Hockey: Credit the Returners

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

The Chargers of Alabama Huntsville is preparing for their home opener against a Ferris State team that, like UAH, wants to win sooner rather than later. In order for this team to thrive, the returning players who toughed out so much to stay Chargers have to improve. Given the unique year this is, some returners are playing for ice time next season with their play this year. That is, due to the pandemic, the NCAA is allowing players with more academic work to not have this year count against their eligibility. Therefore, all players, especially the returners are competing for ice time now, and a roster spot next year to some degree. As Carmine Guerriero said when we talked to him, they have all bought into the new way these Chargers are playing, and it has showed.

Let’s look beyond the top line numbers and look at how some players have improved year-over-year.

Bauer Neudecker

The junior forward is already halfway towards his point output from last season, six, in an equal amount games played so far. He has been a part of the most team-oriented first line that these Chargers have had for a few years. As this st\eason has gone on, we have talked to the coaching staff and they, along with some of his own teammates say that his shot is the most deceptive on the team. The fact that he has two goals on 11 shots is also nice to see. When he put up seven goals he had 45 shots on net as a freshman. That is to say, he has room to grow and get better this season and if he could help his line get more zone time, then his shooting percentage will tick up a bit. If the Chargers’ top line can get some more sustained posession in the offensive zone, then he is set to the biggest beneficiary of the extra attempts.

Tyr Thompson

The other first-line junior has time playing on the first line with Neudecker and Bronte. Tyr himself has shown a massive improvement in efficiency and ability to produce more for this team in a bigger role. His ability to score and provide a spark for Bronte to use cannot be understated for its importance. Last year he scored six goals in 32 games, and is has two goals already in six games played This year, we have seen him all over the ice for Lance West’s team, because the program values what he brings to the group and fits their culture. Tyr’s numbers, like Bauer’s should go up if that line can sustain more shifts in the offensive zone.

Lucas Bahn

The sophomore has done nothing but get better in his time on campus. Some of his work will not show up in a box score and that is quite alright. Of all six UAH defenders on any given night, he is arguably the most versatile. He also quarter-backs plays as needed as well. From last to this season, Bahn’s gotten better at making quality passes and has superb gap work against all teams he plays. In addition, he is already halfway to his point total from last season (4 in 31 games) in just six games played. The year Bahn had last season was not indicative of his full skill, and he is on pace to finish this year better in nearly every category as the leader of this power play.

Look for more on the returners throughout the year, but at first glance, those who have stayed are playing at levels higher than last year, and given the new direction the program is choosing, keeping up with the returners is a worthwhile thought.

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