Photo Credit-Kelsey Lee Violet Turtle Photography
Despite a heroic penalty kill by the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville in the third period of the finale against Michigan Tech killing a full 1:33 of five-on-three time, it was not enough as the Huskies seemed to take over the game soon after that. They dominated the pace of play for most of the remainder of the finale to earn the series sweep, scoring three unanswered goals in the third to provide the final margin. Credit Logan Pietila in net who faced some more opposition than Mark Sinclair but was equal to the task. Credit Bennett Stockdale for banking a puck off a defender and in to tie the game at one in the second period as well. It was his first goal in college hockey, and came alongside the best forward duo this weekend for Alabama Huntsville, Tyrone Bronte and Bauer Neudecker.
With all of this said, regarding the loss, do keep this in mind for Alabama Huntsville. This was a non-conference series, and it arguably serves as a valuable lesson for them. If you continue to take penalties against physical teams, and slip for even a five minute span, your results will often be bad.
What does it all mean?
Well, these Chargers take on perennial title contender, Minnesota State Thursday and Friday. While every single pundit and outlet will expect an easy sweep, and given the past and records of both teams, its understandable, this weekend showed UAH how they can compete with the top tier of this league, and how not to compete. The Mavericks are fast, and not as physically imposing as the Huskies, but far faster, and more able to generate offense with less zone time.
First off, the Chargers had not played a game in about a month due to the Covid-19 issues around their team. They played both games with a top-pair freshman named Josh Martin who had not seen a game of any sorts in 335 days before last night. He was one of the more consistent Chargers on the weekend, and his physical play was nice to see as an addition to this team. This staff cares first and foremost about effort, and it showed through tonight. There will be plenty of adjustments to make before Thursday, but they come into this week in a much better place after tonight than they did after last night.
He will finally have a full week of practices with his full team as of practice this upcoming week with the Chargers before they face the Mavericks on Thursday and Friday. The biggest challenge will be facing Hobey Baker candidate Dryden McKay in net. To beat him, you have to earn rebounds and second chance looks, and the Chargers only put home two of those limited chances all weekend. How they start against the Mavericks will be crucial.
For Alabama Huntsville, they needed this weekend to adjust after recovering from Covid-19 that was widespread across the team. Dealing with adversity tonight, they still played their hearts out, and competed more than in the opener. The effort was there all night, the results will come. No one but the team in the locker room thinks they should win against the Mavericks, but this staff and team have shown that time and time again they look to delete the past and move forward. What better time then now to reprise that.
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