UAH Hockey: Credit the Returners-Part Two

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

The Chargers of Alabama Huntsville have done quite a lot in this pandemic-marred season so far. Part of that is how well the 13 freshmen have integrated into this group. Another part of that is the exponential growth of those who came back. This is the second part of our series documenting the sucess of the retuners. If you did not get a chance to look at the last bit of info on some of the returners, there will be a link at the bottom of this article to go back and check that out. Since writing the first piece, we have seen Bauer Neudecker continue to thrive on Tyrone Bronte’s line and showcase the sneaky shot that David Fessenden and others know about. In addition, his linemate Lucas Bahn has pitched in in some key moments, especially on the power play. He leads a power play ranked fourth in the nation coming into the weekend.

As we said before, and as is still relevant now,” 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 more players have improved year-over-year.

Dayne Finnson

The junior defender put home the most thrilling goal of the season so far, and one of the most thrilling at the Von Braun Center of any scored in this program’s Division One existence. His improvement goes beyond that. For starters, he already has more goals in 8 games this year, than in his previous 64 games over his first two seasons played (two this year, one in the previous two seasons). In addition, he has both of those goals on the power play. When you look at reasons why this power play is fourth in the country, the blue line’s contribution is a big part of that. For Finnson he is also two points from equalizing his points output last year (has five in eight games this season, and had seven in 32 games last year). We knew Finnson could defend well before this year, but him adding as much offense as he has done to this point is a welcome addition to the diversity of point contributions the Chargers need.

Drew Lennon

The junior defender, with one three point game against Ferris State, exceeded his career pont total in his first  two seasons in one game as his three points were a big factor in the thriller. Beyond that, he plays a cerebral game, similar to Bahn. He has shown an ability to find the opening when setting up the offense, as shown on the nice pass he made to Quinn Green earning him the secondary assist on Ben Allen’s equalizer against Ferris State with 2.3 seconds left.  Throughout the year, look for how Lennon compliments the assertive game he plays on the scoresheet. He has the potential to stretch defenses like he did against Ferris State. Given the speed the Chargers have up front, Lennon’s keen eye on offense becomes even more critical, as he showed against Ferris State.

Ben Allen

The third line center for the Chargers scored the equalizer against the Bulldogs last Friday, his ability this year stretches far beyond that. He plays on a line with Peyton Francis and Connor Wood. All three of them provide superb speed and energy that helps extend what these Chargers can do. On that goal, he got the primary assist from Quinn Green, a speedy freshman who spent last weekend on the first line with Tyrone Bronte and Neudecker. That shows his ability to move around when needed, and the staff likes the speed he plays with. From watching him play last year against North Dakota, his ability to defend was apparent to those watching then. This year, he has gotten noticeably faster and provided West with more options for every situation Having a few players that start in the bottom six of your forward corps that can move up in key moments is part of building a better program. Allen has two points this year already, and is on track to far exceed the 16 games played last year if he keeps playing his role as he is.

All of the returners have provided a needed element to this team, and we will have updates on all of them including ones not discussed in this upcoming article. All of them, even ones not mentioned in the first or second article have improved their games and provided the leadership this team needs.

Link to first article on the returners.

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