UAH Hockey: Read beyond the shots on net conceded

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography )

Last week, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville got outshot 42-18 and won the series finale against Ferris State 2-0. While the difference is obviously concerning, there were some positives out of that game to take into the next weekend against Northern Michigan at the Von Braun Center.

First off, we will stipulate that no team wants to give up that many shots in the game. ever. Teams usually give up that difference in a big defeat.

What went right on Saturday?

Well, as we know, Karlis Zirnis runs the penalty kill in his role as an Associate Head Coach for the Chargers. In addition, he works with the team through breaking down video for them, with advice. While they conceded no power play goals on the weekend, the coaching staff, Karlis, and most fans at the Von Braun Center, did scout the Bulldogs well enough to know that netminder David Fessenden faced too many grade-a looks on Friday night. Through adjustments made through the staff’s continuous video work, UAH’s penalty killers actually did even better on Saturday given the tough circumstances they faced.

The team took penalties nearly back-to-back at least once, and had to adjust. Fessenden did see more shots on Saturday, but more than a few of them from Ferris State were not grade-a looks. The Bulldogs, to win, had to score more long looks against a compact team with speed. They were unable to do so. On both nights, UAH did a good enough job boxing out, for the most part, and working together cohesively to get the puck going away from their own end.

A simple shots on net count did not do that series justice, and does not showcase where this team is. While they are still getting outshot on most nights, the differences are a bit less, and the team’s ability to clear second and third looks has dramatically increased their ability to have sucess in the long run.

Take a look at the Chargers’ next scheduled opponent, Northern Michigan. Despite losing 5-1 to a strong Bowling Green team, they had one more shot attempt than the Falcons did. In addition, they forced Eric Dop to make 35 saves off 52 shot attempts. If you saw shots on net first, you could get a misleading thought on the game.

The same is true for these Chargers, credit the staff, lead by Zirnis, for working to adjust where shots on net where being allowed more than the amount. This staff knows what David Fessenden brings for them in net, and is crafting a system to match. To compare this correctly we could look to football. What the Chargers are doing in making this system is like what a team does to build an offense around their quarterback. Of course the underlying numbers need to be better, but they do not tell the whole story. What these Chargers do with this reality ultimately will.

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