Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
Over the season, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville have built a new collective culture with a roster of 14 freshmen, and dedicated returners looking to come back and start a new chapter in the history of this program. As West said of his team’s growth each day they are ” getting more confident.” This group has to face the Lakers of Lake Superior State this weekend on the road to open the first round of the WCHA playoffs. West warns of calling any team in the postseason a “good matchup” and said of the Lakers ,”they’re the number two team in our league this year and finished ahead of a lot of really good hockey teams.”
As a team, their sweep at the hands of Bemidji State gave West and his group a final chance to see what they need to work on in the postseason against a veteran opponent. The Lakers play a similarly strong defensive game with one of the best goaltenders in the country, Mareks Mitens, backstopping them. In their own end, West noted that “we have to be better in our zone defending our zone and their motion.” The Lakers do a lot with their defenders on offense and are good at getting teams out of sort with the amount of motion they bring.
While the Chargers had more than a few opportunities this weekend, they could not score. West and the staff understand that and think the process is still paramount in its importance. For him, the focus is on not scoring in games but the constant focus is on on “continuing to have the right habits in practice.” As this team continues to build its new future this year and beyond, the staff believes goals and success will come from that.
In net, West praised the year David Fessenden has had for the Chargers. Fessenden’s ability to compete for this group means, according to West that ” “It gives your team a mentality that when he’s in there we know we have a chance.” His skill in stopping multiple shots in succession and keeping rebounds to non danger areas are two reasons why the net is his to lose in the postseason.
Finnaly, for this group development is at the forefront given that it has 14 freshmen. Part of the reason goal scoring is where the Chargers have it at is due to the consistently shifting line charts. Out of necessity to see what they have, most Chaargers have not played with their line mates for more than a few games. Despite the season, West noted that he could spend a long time talking about how all of his freshmen have grown their games. They all have grown, and players like Tyrone Bronte, Brian Scoville, Quinn Green, Conor Witherspoon, among so many skilled players in this freshman group have all stood out for what they bring to the Chargers.
Despite the tough task ahead of this group, West is still hopeful for the weekend. The puck drops on game one this Friday at 6:07 PM. If the Chargers can limit their mistakes, and streamline their game towards the net, anything is possible against a very good Lake Superior State team.
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