Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
The Chargers of Alabama Huntsville are a team with 14 freshmen, and of them 13 were not planning on being Chargers before the program was brought back. We say this from time to time to provide perspective. Furthermore, this team, despite losing by one additional goal, played a better finale against Michigan Tech, and had some standouts in the process. In addition, the non conference game gave UAH a final chance to evaluate their roster before jumping back into WCHA play, and before playing a top 10 Minnesota State team this Thursday and Friday.
Associate Head Coach Karlis Zirnis described the weekend well in saying:
“We like our effort and the team works hard. It is a learning experience for our team that we keep up our effort for 60 minutes and keep our consistency and our execution for the whole game.”
After noting the improved effort from Friday, he went on to explain the numerous line changes, saying that:
“We have to make sure we evaluate all the players and the best way we can do that is giving them a opportunity in the game scenario.” Taking time to develop everyone requires that they all get to play to have some area of improvement to work from. The team is also recovering from a Covid-19 outbreak, and hung with Michigan Tech for most of this game, despite the final score line.
On the best forward duo this team has of Tyron Bronte and Bauer Neudecker, Zirnis said of their work together:
” Both of the have good vision and very good speed. Both of the players play hard in the hard areas of the ice and are not shy from physical play. Their goals come from going to those areas of the ice.”
One of the many freshmen who has impressed the staff is Bennett Stockdale. His speed and tenacity earned him a spot with Bronte and Neudecker. Saturday night he put home his first college goal off a Michigan Tech defender and into the back of the net. Of his work and improvement Zirnis said:
” Bennett did a great job jumping in and playing with those two guys. Bennett used his speed and did complement the line very well.”
In responding to these questions after the finale, Zirnis did note the overall improvement of the team from the series opener, saying, ” I thought we broke the puck out a lot better tonight and had some opportunities come out as unit of five out of our d-zone into the transition game.” Those good moments for Lance West’s team have to serve as a marker for this week.
The Mavericks of Minnesota State are coming off a sweep of their closest contender in this league, Bowling Green, and will want to burnish their WCHA lead. They have speed, and a lot more skill up front than Michigan Tech, and a top five netminder behind their skill named Dryden McKay. To have any chance against these Mavericks, UAH will want to look to the positives of Saturday, and continue to work towards those good moments.
The Chargers showed that they can and will compete with anyone this year as their efforts against Robert Morris in their opener, their tie against Lake Superior State, their sweep of Ferris State, and their win everywhere but on the scoreboard in the first finale against Michigan Tech have all indicated. This week presents another challenge, but one this staff will have them ready to take on.
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