UAH-Northern Michigan: Three things to watch for

Photo Credit: LSSU Athletics

Northern Michigan is one of the most improved teams in the country in the last few weeks. The return of Andre Ghantous has immediately did what Grant Potulny hoped, up their offensive output. In addition, it seems like new addition of  Rico DiMatteo has helped with their goaltending, and that Ghantous and Joseph Nardi are leading this team forward. Here are three things the Chargers need to do in order to stymie one of the hottest offenses in the country.

Manage the game

This was a theme of the Minnesota State and Michigan Tech series. Both nights, at points, UAH played well and hung in with two really good teams. At select other points, they could not do anything with the puck and were working in their own zone for minutes on end, which leads to penalties, and goals in your net quite frequently.

When this team is playing at its best, their physical defense makes superb quick and simple breakout passes to the fast group of forwards they have, who then race in and score before the opposition has time to set up. This is how Quinn Green’s goal on Thuursday night against the Mavericks was so good to see. Everything to get Green the puck is what needs to happen consistently for the next two days for this group to have a chance.

Capitaize on your chances

Since their rise up the WCHA standings, one thing seems to remain constant. The Wildcats have not scored less than three goals in their past six games, winning all but one of them. They have also not conceded less than two goals more than once, and in only a third of those six games have they given up two or less goals. That is to say, a team that relies on speed and offense has to be worn down a bit through the neutral zone and be made to defend. The Chargers do not have to overwhelm their opposition with taking time and space. They do need to work with the speed in their team to find ways to sbe more efficient on the evening. This concept of efficiency is one that they have worked to improve on since the year started, and one that will be at the heart of what to watch for going forward.

Score first

This is one of the better areas for UAH recently, as they have been able to get the first goal in four of their last six games. The speed of this team, on the Olympic ice sheet, will give them a lot more room to generate offense. The skill of players like Tyrone Bronte will be on a bigger stage with the extra ice for him to use. In addition to scoring first, UAH’s ability to get different players involved this year in that effort cannot be understated for its importance.

Overall, the Wildcats present a unique challenge of speed and quick strike plays along with a resurgent group. While it is not likely that Northern Michigan will have an at-large bid to play for, this weekend provides them with a chance to get closer to securing a top three spot, and to go further in the postseason. How UAH responds after four losses at home will be in large part to how well they can stay within their system, and make the Wildcats have to play catch up.

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