Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Phography
Today, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville scored first again. Lucas Bahn walked down to the goal line and fired a puck off Bowling Green netminder Zach Rose and in to send the loud Von Braun Center crowd into a frenzy. Not long after that, Tim Theochardis scored on a turnover that left Bowling Green with a breakaway where David Fessenden had to defend against multiple shooters by himself.
After that goal, Alabama Huntsville found itself in a familiar spot. They had to answer back after having their opponent eqalize the score. They did just that as Drew Lennon put home a shorthanded tally to give the Chargers the lead that would last until the third period. Bowling Green scored two goals 54 second apart to go ahead for good, an added an empty net tally to secure the 4-2 win. Despite getting outshot, Alabama Huntsville played the Falcons much closer than they did in the opener, only getting outdone in shot attempts by 14 (50-36).
What have we learned about the Chargers today? Well, today’s effort was the best summation of what this team can do against top end talent when it plays together. Did they lose? Yes they did, on a beautiful goal from Sam Craggs, a turnover for the first goal and a power play conceded. Despite the result, there are some good things from today to remember that can serve as a guide for this group the rest of this season.
The seniors are still important
Connor Merkley, and Connor Wood both had big parts in today’s efforts for the Chargers. Merkley centered the second line, and went 12-10 on faceoffs. More than that, he provided some help on offense with the primary assist on Bahn’s goal. His physical presence in the top six is always welcome, and credit to Merkley for coming in after not playing for 23 days to put in the work he did on his line today. As for Connor Wood, well, his leadership and physicsal play lead to Alabama Huntsville getting extended power play time in the second period. Although they could not score on any of it, Wood’s determination to get to tough areas and his speed pose problems to all of his opponents. That same level of speed and truculence could land Wood a professional contract after his time at Alabama Huntsville is done. As Associate Head Coach Karlis Zirnis said of the seniors’ impact on the program ” They are people who care a lot about the program and giving everything they can to the program. They have been thru a lot and many ups and down and we are thankful for everything they done. ”
This staff sees the support it gets
Alabama Huntsville finished its home schedule second in the nation in perent capacity attendance behind only the University of North Dakota. As Zirnis notes ” I’m very thankful for the people come out and support us thru these hard times. It means a lot for our guys and our staff. We appreciate every person who has attended the game or supporting us via internet. I can promise you will we keep working hard to improve our hockey program and there are better days ahead of us.”
As Zirnis said ” We limited our mistakes in the game and played a lot more physical today. We had shoot first mentality and going hard to the net.” The game today was the most complete game that this group has played all year. They did everything they could to stay in the game, and limit mistakes. Bowling Green happened to bury one of them (the four-on-four goal) on rare turnover. Going forward, if this team can get one foundational building block from the Bowling Green series, how it played a team likely to make the NCAA tournament today would be one thing to take from the series moving forward.
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