Better effort but same result: LSSU 4 UAH 1

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

While the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville did a lot of things right than last night. The end result had the same net effect. The Chargers lost 4-1 to Lake Superior State. After a Quinn Green deflection off a Dayne Finnson shot on the power play, the Lakers scored the last four goals of the game, and withstood a more concerted offensive effort from the Chargers to hang on to the victory. Ethan Langenegger made 20 saves in the win for Lake Superior State.

Now, lets look at what this means for the Chargers in three areas of focus on the game.

More consistent effort

On the evening, the effort of Alabama Huntsville was not the reason they lost. Their effort gave them several good chances on the evening, and forced the Lakers to defend waves of Chargers from time to time. This team put 20 shots on net, and seemed to listen to the coaching staff after their loss last night. This team made adjustments, and forced the Lakers to defend a lot more in this one, despite the final result. In addition, the Chargers did a lot better in drawing power plays tonight. One of the first ones they earned was because Brian Scoville kept his feet moving through the neutral zone and earned a power play, because a Laker had to interfere with him.

Game management

The Chargers have improved dramatically from last season, and each day get a little bit better. One of the last real bedrock things this team is still working to improve is its game managemnt abilities. They got out of the first period tied as Mitchell Oliver wired a seeing eye shot past a screened David Fessenden from the right point. The second period required some more of the ability to blunt the other team’s advance. Going down one is bad enough, but going down two goals in two minutes and 59 seconds is not at all within the concept of game management. From that point on, the Chargers had to be even more aggressive to catch the Lakers, and said aggressiveness cost them in the third. A Brandon Puricelli goal in the third to provide the final margin came when UAH was a result of the Chargers’ push forward. This team has now given up the lead and game after scoring first at least once in three of its past four series. As Associate Head Coach Karlis Zirnis said of the experience that the game brought ” these are the ups and downs that our players have, and we have to keep learning from the experience.”

Where do we go from here

This team’s improvement from last season is one of the most underrated aspects of the College Hockey landscape this season. The record is not indicative of the effort this team has shown, and their compete level. In several key metrics like penalty killing, power plays, and more, the Chargers are a better team this season. With that said, this is still a work in progress for a group that has shown its effort each and every game. The Chargers now have to get ready for two games this week against Bowling Green. The Falcons are one of the fastest teams in the country, capable of scoring goals in bunches. They have two capable goaltenders in Eric Dop and Zach Rose that can each carry them. Oh, and this is a team firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Should the Chargers take points from the Falcons, their ticket to the NCAA Tournament looks a little less impressive, and the Chargers can ensure playing one of them, Michigan Tech, or Lake Superior State in the first round. While those are all tough teams to play, none are as good as Minnesota State. This team still has a lot of potential to grow this year, and four more games to upset the NCAA Tournament picture. Let’s see what happens this week.

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What comes next: UAH-LSSU

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

In a few hours, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville will look to avenge a 2-1 loss to the Lakers of Lake Superior State. We chatted with Associate Head Coach Karlis Zirnis to discuss what to look for in the finale.

The Vitucci Line’s Sucess

Last night, the staff put Frank Vitucci on the second line to utilize the speed he brings in a more consistent ssense. In addtion, well, it worked well.

Zirnis praised the work of the Noah Finstrom, Connor Witherspoon, and Vitucci line against the Lakers before. Last night, they showed their ability to generate chances once more. Despite not scoring a goal, their line was in the middle of a lot of good looks, and had more moments of driving play for the Chargers. That line could be back together again tonight in the finale. Vitucci’s shot is one of the better ones on this team, and if he can get a few more looks tonight, that would be beneficial to the Chargers.

Playing a complete game

The Chargers’ best period last night was the second. Despite generating only four shots on net, they controlled possession for the most amount of time that they did all game. Their persistence in their own end lead to good zone time on offense. When this team sticks to that high level of the second period, good things, like the Bennett Stockdale goal, happen. When they stray away from it, good teams, like Lake Superior State, find a way to claw their way back and steal points from you.

As Zirnis said, ”  We need to embrace  that style we played in 2nd period. We seemed to get away from that… we have to keep teaching our players thru this process what makes them successful.”

To complete a game, simplify things

As we have noted, this team plays well for each other, and does things by committee throughout the year. That includes goal scoring and shot taking. While that can be good in a lot of facets of the game, when you need shots to the net, it can harm you. Many times last night, the Chargers had zone tiime and pressure, and chose the extra pass over shooting for a rebound. That results in not having anything to show for your hard work. The Chargers are getting better at doing the right things throughout the season. The next step in that is consistently translating zone time to shots on net.

As Zirnis said, “we have to keep simplifying our game at times and shoot the puck. We have to be little bit more selfish and shoot the puck.”

The next challenge for this team is showing what they have learned is this afternoon against the Lakers at 4:07 PM Central time. The Chargers have found ways to improve as the year goes on. What will we see today?

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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UAH 1 LSSU 2 : Beyond the box score

Photo Credit: LSSU Athletics

Alabama Huntsville did nearly everything right in defending a potent Lake Superior State offense. They killed penalties, they blocked shooting lanes, and even were leading for most of the game after a Bennett Stockdale toe drag goal in the second period. With that being said, the ending was not what any Charger or fan of UAH Hockey wanted. Here are three things on this game, the good, the not ideal, and what to be hopeful about heading into the finale tomorrow afternoon.

The good

David Fessenden is one of the best goaltenders in the country. He moves with an economy of motion, and is able to stop most looks on the first try when he sees them. He was able to see most looks tonight. Despite packing the shooting lanes, and crowding the net front, Fessenden still was able to make save after save, and keep the Chargers in the game, despite his team generating either three or four shots on Mareks Mitens each period.

This team was also consistently able to limit grade a looks for most of the evening. Despite getting outshot 28-10, this team boxed out on the Lakers’ zone time and prevented most rebound looks. The system of Head Coach Lance West has shown results, not all shown out by a box score yet, but results that will show up in the long run.

To the team, Huntsville had some periods of sustained offense, two or three in the secon period, one of which produced the goal, and a few more. In the third, they had some zone time, but could not put enough pucks on Mitens for any of it to cause much harm to Lake Superior State. Credit the Lakers for their work in limiting chances.

One thing that stood out was the elevation of Frank Vitucci to the second line for the Chargers. The Yardley, Pennsylvania native has displayed speed all year, and his shot is one of the better ones on this team. In addition, this staff is all about rewarding players who practice the right way, and do the right things with more ice time. Frank is one player that certainly is vying for more ice time as he wants to grow his role throughout the season.

The not ideal

While penalties from this team need to subside, they are not the reason that the Chargers lost this one in heartbreaking fashion. The simple fact that the upper limit of shots on net for this team was four is more indicative of the evening. While this team’s defense is growing, and producing some looks on offense for them, which Stockdale took advantage of tonight, it needs to generate more chances off sustained pressure, and force their opponents to defend for 30-60 seconds per shift compared to 10-15 that the Lakers had to do, for most of the game. Yes, the team needs to take less not-needed penalties, but that is not why they lost tonight.

The hopeful

This game of college hockey, and sport in general has in and of itself, its own myopic bias. How my team did in the last game is its best indicator of how it will do. Alabama Huntsville Hockey is beyond that. A team composed of 14 freshmen was able to skate end to end with the number 20 ranked team in the country. In addition, this team scored first once again. UAH can put teams on their heels and make them react and adjust. Consistently, when was that last time UAH fans could say that about this group. The results are not there for them yet, but this team and staff are firm believers in one philosophy. They know that to make your own luck, you have to put yourself in a competitive spot. They did that tonight for most of the game, and have scored first at least once in the past few series after coming back off their pandemic pause.

If you want a longer term trend to watch, how often they are scoring first is one for you. Also remember, that this is all happening with 13 players that did not think they would be on the Huntsville campus until June or later. While everyone wants the results to come, this staff is building a new foundation on a better process. Games like the one tonight give everyone with this program a reminder, that the hill back to where this program, and school want to go takes time, has good moments, and bad, and your response to them, is what matters more.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Bennett Stockdale: More on his path to UAH and development as a Charger

(Photo Credit: UAH Athletics)

Freshman Alabama Huntsville Hockey forward Bennett Stockdale grew up Ottawa and has been around hockey almost all of his life. As he said ” Growing up in Ottawa my whole family were huge Senators fans and had season tickets so I’d go to most of the home games with my family, I became pretty obsessed with them and hockey by the time I was three.” The Stockdales are a hockey playing family as his sister, Kathryn is playing for the University of Connecticut Women’s Hockey Team in her freshman season as well.

He has been around the game all his life, and almost had his dream of playing Division One Hockey not become a reality before Lance West reached out to him in June. During the pitch, as Stockdale said on what the pitch from the team was, ” Coach West was really excited about the players that would be coming back and the culture in the locker room. With the program returning he also talked about the security and support of the program.” The consistent pitch proved resonant with many on this team, as 12 freshmen over the summer heard versions of it, and became members of Charger Hockey in part because of it.

In his time at Alabama Huntsville, Bennett has shown flashes of the leader he became for the Johnstown Tomahawks of the North American Hockey League. He is, at his best, a power forward with speed, and an eye for scoring goals, all while being responsible in his own end. In his time with the Tomahawks, he played extensively against Tyrone Bronte before joining forces this year. In the top six, Stockdale is a force on the left side, and brings his power and finesse to each game. On playing against Bronte he said, ” playing against him was always fun but Its been great to play with him. He’s a really hard worker and makes it pretty easy to play with him. Playing on the same team as him has definitely allowed me to see that even more.” That hard work is very much part Stockdale’s game as well.

Another thing in Stockdale’s play that stands out is his physical play, and high hockey intelligence, which plays well with the scoring threats on either top six line he is on. That is part of his work to model his game after Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point. That same physical play also comes from playing within the structure of West’s system, another improvement to his game he noted that the coaches were a big part of, in getting him to the Division One Level.

The development has shown, and the staff has given him more time in the top six recently. For as nervous as Bennett was in not having an offer until June, he has not shown it. He has added some physical play on whatever line he is on, and knows how to drive the offense forward positively. Stockdale and the Chargers are getting ready to take on Lake Superior State tomorrow night, and Saturday night as well.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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NMU 8 UAH 2: Beyond the box score

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

The Chargers of Alabama Huntsville put more shots on net tonight than they did last night. Many more of their opponent’s shots, Northern Michigan University, found the back of the net to make the 8-2 final, forcing UAH to settle for a split. Bauer Neudecker and Quinn Green’s tallies came in the second and third periods, respectively. Both came after the Chargers were six goals down, each time. The potent offense of Northern Michigan came alive, and credit the Wildcats for putting a complete game out there after the Chargers did more to earn their luck yesterday. For the Chargers, they have no time to rest, which given the composition of this roster with 14 freshmen and a staff dedicated to continuous training and evaluation, that is probably best. Below are three things from tonight that stood out to us, including some positives for the team going forward, looking beyond the box score today.

The shots on goal, or even shot attempts are not useful when describing the success of this team in this series

Look at these two game numbers for the Chargers, last night, they finished with only 34 attempts (NMU had 76), with three of them being goals. Tonight, they finished with 40 attempted shots (NMU only had 64). In a traditional sense, most metrics suggest that the Chargers should have lost last night and tonight. They lost tonight for a lot of the same reasons they lost to Minnesota State, playing a speedy team on the road for the second of four games this weekend. That is, they got beat in transition on many of the goals conceded before their offense could get going. Last night, they did a better job at clogging grade-a looks in transition and forcing a block or shot wide before a second or third look by the Wildcats. While shots on net and attempts matter, they do not tell the story of this series as much as transition goals and speed by both teams do.

The effort of this team was there all night, even as the game got out of hand

First, the goal from Bauer Neudecker to open the scoring ledger for the Chargers was indicative of this first line. Tyrone Bronte found him and Neudecker’s clean release found its way into the back of the net. Quinn Green would use his speed in the third period to create enough space to pot a goal of his own. Everyone on the first line had a point tonight, and played with the speed and grit UAH fans are getting used to seeing from them this year. Neudecker played like the captain tonight, given that he tried to get the team back into things with his goal, and his efforts pushed the Chargers forward. It did not make a major difference in the final score, but Head Coach Lance West and his staff did have a big bright spot in the first line, and seem to have found a consistent one, given the effort and chemistry of everyone on the line.

On defense, we were impressed with the consistency of Lucas Bahn, and his effort as well. One sequence in the third period stood out to us as an illistrstive example. With about 10 minutes left in the game, he pursued a NMU forward through the neutral zone and denied him a grade-a look. This is well after the Wildcats took the lead, and during a time in the game where we have seen players in this situation on other teams not exude the same effort Lucas did. He does not have a goal, yet, for this group, but has one of its biggest reservoirs of effort and consistency in the face of playin in many adverse results. Bahn also leads a power play unit for this team, and does anything else West and the staff ask him. In terms of modeling the new direction of Charger Hockey, he is definitely the type of player this staff wants to bring more of to campus in future years.

What comes next

Well, the Chargers now get a brisk 24 or so hours off to travel over to Sault Ste. Marie to face the Lakers of Lake Superior State this weekend. They have earned a tie with them in a December non-conference series, and will be up against one of the best and most underrated goalies in the country in Mareks Mitens. Karlis Zirnis was a part of the Latvian coaching staff in the 2017 World Juniors Tournament that Mitens played in. Karlis knows how hard working Mitens is, and respects how tough it is for his team to score on him. In addition, the Lakers are lead up front by Aston Calder, who is continuing to show the league, and the country how good of an offensive threat he is, with 18 points (9 goals, 9 assists) in 17 games played so far. For the Chargers to have success, his line must be kept in check, and UAH will have to earn a rebound goal to score on Mitens. He does not give up many clean looks at this level, and is, in our opinion, ready to compete for an NHL roster spot in the fall.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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Play the right way-behind UAH 3-1 win, and more

Photo Credit-Kelsey Lee Violet Turtle Photography

This afternoon, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville went on the road to play the Wildcats of Northern Michigan. Coming into this one, UAH was facing a team that scored at least three goals in its past six games. Today, they faced a team that peppered David Fessenden with 36 shots. He stopped 35 of them, and often times made plays look easy due to using his big size, and his positioning, which was perfect for most of the game. Derek Krall made the last save, but Fessenden looks to be ok, and could be in the net starting tomorrow night. Head Coach Lance West wanted his team to play the right way and focus on the game, and they did both of those things pretty well.

Let’s go to the Chargers, and what they did well. First off, Tyrone Bronte’s line is a problem to defend. Fessenden said that Bauer Neudecker has the most deceptive shot on the team and he used it today to put home what would be an important insurance goal. He took a perfect pass from Connor Wood, and went far side and in to make it 3-0. As for Bronte, well, he opened up the scoring going down three-fourths of the ice and roofing a backhand before anyone could catch hm. Tyrone Bronte’s acceleration today was something to watch and behold, and it makes us question even more how he did not have any Division One offer until June. Oh, and his line also has an incredibly fast Quinn Green on it who has grown into a prominent top-end winger for this team as well.

The game today came down to who played the right way most often. While Northern Michigan won the shots on net by a large margin, they also allowed a higher percentage of attempts conceded on net unblocked. That is the Chargers put 16 shots on net, and put 10 wide, only having six attempts blocked. The Wildcats put 76 attempts towards the net, having 27 blocked with 10 wide, and two posts.

When it came to overall ability to compete for lose pucks tonight, the Chargers did a better job in the corners, winning puck battles and moving things towards offense in a much more efficient manner. Their transition game produced results on two of their goals, and the third from Josh Martin was a result of a battle in front of the net, and the shot finding a lane (it may have been deflected by Adrian Danchenko, but given that Martin went over 300 days without playing hockey, for now, it is Martin’s goal).

For the finale tomorrow night, the biggest thing UAH may want to adress is working to win a few more faceoffs, especially against the Joseph Nardi line. That group for the Wildcats can score quickly, and in bunches. Winning some more faceoffs can mute that to some degree. Tonight, the Chargers lost that battle 47-23. That has to improve tomorrow night. Look for there to be a few more tie-ups off the draw where the wings can step in and help win possession. Northern Michigan is plenty good enough without letting them win more faceoffs.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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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.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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For the NCAA Tournament consider Army: Here’s why

The Black Knights of Army West Point earned another victory last night with a 5-1 win against the Falcons of Bentley. This win gave them a sweep on the weekend, their sixth straight win, and tenth straight game of earning at least a point in Atlantic Hockey. In raw points earned, the Black Knights are third behind an AIC and Robert Morris team that both deserve at-large consideration.

Last night’s efforts, given the Selection Committee’s need to use some sort of “eye test”, in our minds moved Head Coach Brian Riley’s team into the at large category, if the season ended today. Riley was proud of his team both nights this weekend, but thought they actually played better in the Friday night overtime victory than last night in a 5-1 game that turned into a blowout pretty quickly. The Black Knights scored four unanswered goals to provide the final margin, featuring on the evening one from Hobey Baker candidate Colin Bilek, and two each from Brett Abdelnour and Thomas Farell.

This Army team is deep, and has a pretty extensive comitee that Riley relies on for goal scoring. Everyone of his lines are capable of taking over the game at times, and all of them have their own strengths. The line lead by Colin Bilek always seems to be on the ice for big moments, and last night was no different.

The most unique thing about this team is their selflessness. Riley personified that through discussing Bilek, in noting that he is the leader of this team, and being recognized for his goals sure, but that Bilek also sacrifices himself for the team at every signle opportunity. Colin Bilek’s ability to transition from a shot block to a goal scoring chance on the same shift is one of the better ones in the country. He inspires the team up front to push forward, and has made the many goal scorers on this team better.

In net, Trevin Kozlowski is a consistent rock for this team. His ability to play a calm and consistent game, along with having a short memory on conceding less than ideal goals is just some of the reason why he is 9-3-1 on the year, and skyrocketing up the Mike Richter Award discussion, as he should be. Riley knows that his team is not in a poistion to fight for an at large bid without Kozlowski in net.

Let’s now look at why Army should be under consideration for an at-large spot. First, this team is complete, on its face, and in how it plays. They are disciplined, and able to compete with most teams in the country. In addition to this, they have been able to win many different types of games as of late, but seem to almost thrive more when the score is close, as the Tournament normally is. This team has shown it can beat the best opponents on its schedule, when it is all you can do in a year of virutally no non conference games. They are the last group to beat an AIC teamm one that should earn an at large bid, in regulation. They are able to play with everyone because of who Riley brings in and how he and his staff develop them. Like his protégé, Eric Lang, Riley has his teams play defense first, and be able to, when playing well, score in waves. Only three skaters of Riley’sgroup do not have at least a point, of those who have played at least one game.

Finally, given the dearth of teams playing in the ECAC, and the likelihood of Quinnipiac winning the tournament, we expect that conference to earn only one bid. If that holds, and the Big 10 earns two spots, there will be more spots to go around. Why not, during this season, given adverse conditions, give the extra spot to a team full of people who, if their trajectory holds will have earned the selection, and a group of people training to lead soldiers in adverse conditions all around the world. Brian Riley’s group has proven its ability to thrive under adverse conditions, what better place to showcase that then at the NCAA Tournament, for the first time in this storied program’s history?

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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Hobey Baker Award Underdogs: Part one

This year, as is normal , the national conversation for the proposed winner of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award is centering around the NCHC, and Big 10 for the most part. While some of that is well justified, given the success of players like Shane Pinto and Cole Caufield, the lack of a discussion around many deserving players in these two leagues is not, and we will seek to provide more of that discussion for deserving players. We will work to highlights 2-3 players in each article to begin to scratch the surface of the true depth that Atlantic Hockey, and the WCHA have in Hobey Baker conversation.

For today, we will look at three players, Colin Bilek, junior forward for the Black Knights of Army West Point, senior defenseman Brennan Kapcheck and senior forward for AIC Tobias Fladeby. While Fladeby was not nominated in part due to his returning from an after missing more than a few weeks of hockey due to injury, that does not change his importance to Eric Lang’s group. W e have no doubt that the pace he was on would have earned him further consideration if healthy, and given his senior status and leading role in getting some of Kapcheck’s statistics, he merits some time of coverage here. Both Kapcheck and Fladeby will earn professional contracts when they are ready to make the leap to the next level, and at the beginning of the year, Fladeby’s pace had him high on our early consideration list for this award.

Colin Bilek

Of the top ten goal scorers in the country, only three of them have goals at even strength, shorthanded, and on the power play. They are Shane Pinto of North Dakota, Johnny Evans of the University of Connetoicut, and Bilek. He is everywhere his head coach Brian Riley needs him to be. He also has the 12 goals on the seaon on just 57’s hotss. Given his ability to find the net in somewhat limited shots per game, Bilek has become a key contributor on an Army West Point team looking to snag an at-large bid this season. In addition, he only has 12 penalty minutes for the year, showing the disciplined game he plays. He is the biggest scoring threat for Riley’s team on the ice, and off the ice is a leader at West Point. Look for Bilek’s national accolades to match the success of Army West Point down the stretch. As Riley said of Bilek ” the big thing when i think about Bilek.. he is more than just a goal scorer.. I think you’re a real good player when you make others around you better.. and he does that… he has an energy level like nobody that I’ve ever seen.”

Brennan Kapcheck

We do not know everything about AIC Hockey, to find a person that comes a lot closer to that ideal you would have to talk to Seth Dussault, AIC Communications Coordinator and one of the many good humans that work with this hockey team. Despite that, we can suspect that Kapcheck is one of or the most NHL ready player to come through this program in any iteration. As Eric Lang noted, about half of the NHL has already talked to him about Kapcheck, and it is possible in the right situation that Brennan could crack an opening night roster next season. He is a smooth skating defender with one of the most underappreciated hockey games in the country. He is about as smooth of a skater as as Troy Stecher, and just as fast.

Kapcheck’s intelligence and ability to generate offense make him a key part of a group looking to earn an at large bid. He has 14 assists through 16 games and sports a plus 12. He will not score as many goals as some defenders under consideration, but AIC is not where it is without Brennan Kapcheck setting so many looks up, and playing the sound game on the back end that he does. If the folks making the decision on the top 10 list want an offensive defender that is able to setup a lot of his team, he would be our suggestion.

Tobias Fladeby*

The senior forward from Norway has been one of the biggest reasons why Eric Lang’s team is in a good spot for at large consideration. He plays with speed of a scoring forward, but is also able to track back quite well, and plays on a good line featuring Chris Theodore among others. In only 13 games played, he already has nine goals. If you have not seen him, his play has some elements of Caulfield’s to it. That is, he plays with consistent speed, and generates a strong attack for his team, and is relentless to play against. His consistency on the first line has made players like Kapcheck better, and given Kapcheck’s consideration for the award, combined with Fladeby’s hard work, some notation of his work here is needed, if AIC makes a run to the Frozen Four, we suspect Kapcheck and Fladeby will be big parts of it.

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UAH Hockey: Taking positives, things to build on, and moving forward to face Northern Michigan

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Tonight, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville lost to the Mavericks of Minnesota State 5-0. The score is something that of course, no player in the room is happy about. this staff has some work to do in order to get this team ready to face a Northern Michigan side that is getting back a lot of key players from injury and that defeated Bemidji State 5-1 tonight, including two shorthanded goals in that effort.

Associate Head Coach Karlis Zirnis took some time to provide thoughts on the evening.

On what UAH learned from the weekend series

“We saw a elite team come to our building and we had a taste what elite teams do and how hard we have to work and what strides we need to take to improve our game.” There were moments that had UAH competitive against this team, like scoring first last night, and being able to block a lot of shots on the penalty kill.

On adjustments for tonight and going forward
“We kept them under 40 shots and that was one of the goals tonight. We are teaching our players about discipline and keep working on making plays under pressure.” The shot suppression effort of this team was a little more complete tonight, and was its best in the third period.

Zirnis on the play of the top line, lead by Tyrone Bronte, keep this in mind going forward for this team.

” Bronte’s line did a good job making plays and had created very good scoring chances for us.”

Lessons learned from tonight, according to Zirnis.
“There is always learning lessons from the games you play. Unfortunately these lessons are hard but you still have to learn from them. On the positive side I spoke about the under 40 shots. We had some guys in the line up that we get to evaluate and see in action where their game is at and things they need to work on.”

The staff appriciated the compete level of the team, read more about what it meant from Zirnis here:
” We did never give up on the weekend. When things got hard we kept fighting We kept playing and tried to keep playing the game the right way. Proud of the group of not giving up and kept battling for each other.”

The next game for these Chargers comes Tuesday afternoon on the road at Northern Michigan. Read about Zirnis’ thoughts on what’s next for this team.
“Northern Michigan is playing good hockey right now and they are finding their groove. We have a great challenge in front of us but we are looking for the opportunity to play them and keep growing our game as a team.”

No one wants to lose in this sport, ever. With that said, these Chargers now have experience against a top contender for the national title under their belts. In addition, they are now set to face a team that they are contending with for postseason seeding. The better the Chargers can do in games against the Wildcats, and Lake Superior State, the higher their seed is, and the more they can add to their positive experiences on ice. For a team that is working to delete its past, to their credit, this weekend provides a solid base of encouragement and good moments to build a new future of UAH Hockey with.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.