Matthew Jennings: Read what he brings to the Herd at UAH

Graphic Credit: Total Package Hockey

Photo Credit: Ohio State University Athletics

Matthew Jennings is a Buford Georgia native who spent the first three years of his college hockey career at Ohio State. Through overcoming injuries, the Georgian has gotten a chance to play the game he loves as part of a hockey family. His Dad Steve taught him about hockey, and he has always been encouraged by him. Steve taught him the value of hard work on and off the ice, and has been one of his coaches through the Total Package Hockey program. Jennings praised the honesty of his dad, and his ability to keep things on the level with him. That same honesty and ability to build relationships is something Jennings has taken into his hockey career.

Jennings is a consistent two way center who has a battle level that made his game ideal for what the Chargers Coaching staff is looking for. While he has battled injuries in his time at Ohio State, his resume with the Buckeyes and the Green Bay Gamblers speak to the type of player he is. He is a hard nosed, two way forward that prides himself on outworking the opponent at all times. In a way, parts of his game are similar to one of his friends, and the other Buford native to play hockey for the Chargers, Connor Wood who is good friends with Jennings. Of the school and the hockey program, according to Jennings, Wood told him ” nothing but positives.”

On what the coaching staff told him, he said that the staff said that there was ” nothing guaranteed”, and that he will have to earn every second of ice time. That does not at all phase Jennings, and he praised the staff at large personally, saying ” I like them both as people.” For the type of culture all three coaches have talked about building, adding a player with the mentality of Jennings, and one with solid two way potential, is an ideal add for a team looking for more depth at its center position.

With Jennings’ family now living two hours away from Huntsville, they will get to see him play in a lot of games. While his entire family is happy that Jennings is a lot closer to home, Jennings singled out the excitement of one of his family members. As he said ” my mom is pumped.”

When his hockey career comes to an end, Jennings wants to be a financial planner. He belives it combines the best of what he likes most, relationship building and numbers. As he said, “I Really like Math…. also you get to have personal connections with people.. its not all crunching numbers.”

As for his time asa Buckeye, Jennings is nothing but thankful for the relationships he has built with his former teammates. Multiple times when talking about the game and what he cherishes most about it, the ability to form lasting bonds with his team, no matter at what level of the game he has played it at, means the most to him. As a Charger, he now has the ability to forge new relationships, and provide another example to a young group working to improve on its past season, and learn from how they arrived at its conclusion.

Growing up, playing for the TPH program Jennings would get to come to the Von Braun Center at least once a season. He saw what Charger Hockey meant, and was part of the superb atmosphere that its fans bring to games every night. Now, he will be one of the players that those same youth hockey players in attendance get to look up to, playing closer to his family. While nothing is guaranteed for where the forward will play this season or how much, his path to rehab after his injury at Ohio State, combined with his tenacious effort on and off the ice to improve, it is clear that Jennings is ready to help lead the Herd to greater heights this season. On getting to come back and play as a Charger, after growing up getting his love for the game of college hockey at UAH games, Jennings aptly said ” Its kind of funny how the universe works.”

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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Opinion: Expand the NCAA Tournament to 20 teams

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Fans of the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey team will remember the old WCHA, the fanbase waxes poetically about it often then moving on to needle the attendance and postseason problems that the members of the current Big 10 Hockey Conference have (these problems have some grounding in truth are sometimes exaggerated). One thing in that Final Five is the chance for a team to win three games in three days to make the NCAA Tournament. If you won your first round series, and had either of the worst two remaining regular season records, you had to play an extra game to advance. Teams that were able to win those three games then got the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, regardless of their regular season success, or lack thereof. No one questioned the win of the five seed on the few times it did happen.

This past, pairwise free (it existed, but was not used as we know it due to a lack of significant interconference play) hockey and subjective selection proceedings have left fans of many eastern hockey teams, and a few western powerhouses like Denver, feeling left out.

Now, none of the teams left out did enough to make the 16 team tournament.

With that argument noted, what we are proposing is this.

In future years, when the next cycle of regionals are awarded, standardize the starting dates, and expand the tournament by four teams.

On Friday, you have opening round games between the four and five seed in each regional with the winner earning the right to face one of the four best teams in the country.

On Saturday, you have the first round staggered across the country (for maximum TV ratings of course) play out and make an already great day even better. Instead of six games (two finals, four first round games) we would have eight games take place on one day, and then play the championships on Sunday.

Why?

Well we have a few reasons.

First, for this game to grow, and get more programs in it, expanding the tournament by four teams makes attaining it slightly more reasonable, without having to dilute the value of the regular season. If the tournament expands, more fans and schools can get involved in the greatest part of this game, its postseason.

Second, after hearing arguments about top seeds getting rested enough or not, we would like to note the value of the top seed playing a team that had played the previous day. The coaching staff gets to watch that team play in person, and that team could very well be tired, and in theory should give the top seed an easier path to the regional final.

Third, it adds value to the full season for everyone. Now, teams play to move up or down in the pairwise (all of this is being written for a normal non pandemic-marred season), but the reality is, the top 12 or 13 teams are usually safe every year, while the last two or three worry about conference tournament champions stealing their spot.

This eliminates some of that concern.

If teams 1-13 are locks, the proposal ensures that teams 14-16 all will make it. It would require five teams outside of the top 20 to win their conference championship to hurt the top 16, and ensure that the bottom eight teams would all have to play in the first game. This provides more meaning to what teams 10-12 are doing as the season ends, and ensures every game has more of an impact. If you are playing to get an opening round bye, that adds stakes to your late season play.

Use 2012-2013 as an example, when Niagara finished at the number 10 spot in the pairwise, and Canisius won their postseason tournament, that meant Atlantic Hockey would earn two bids to the tournament. What it also meant was that a 19 win Western Michigan team would miss the tournament. In this system, the only team that would have missed the tournament is number 20 ranked Brown. Atlantic Hockey would have had three teams representing it, and three more programs would have had the chance to compete for a national championship.

We understand that this change would have to wait until the next round of regionals are awarded, and there needs to be buy-ins from coaches, hosts, athletics departments and more all around the country.

Our argument comes down to this.

If this sport is to add more programs over time, something we all want to see, expanding the tournament by four teams now is a way to encourage more schools to potentially join. In addition, for all of those teams just wishing they could have made the tournament this year, this would have let them in. In the future, it will also allow Atlantic Hockey to get at least two deserving representatives into the tournament without harming another team’s chances. Finally, it ensures that the top seeds in each region get to play an opponent who could be tired. If the game is to grow, its tournament needs to do so 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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UAH Hockey 20-21: A foundational season

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

13 freshmen, and no certainty in net. That is what the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville faced when they went into their opener against Robert Morris. They of course had to deal with this because of their program being cut and then reinstated soon after over the summer. A new staff with Lance West at the helm, working with Carmine Guerriero and Karlis Zirnis had their work cut out for them just to get a team to that point of the opener, let alone through a tough WCHA schedule.

This staff did just that. The work started out in the summer, where Zirnis and West spent a lot of time watching video and finding 12 freshmen to come to campus and compete as a part of a program looking to start over. One of those players they found is their first line center, Tyrone Bronte. He had no division one offers in June, and had to earn a spot on the top line for the Chargers with his speed and hockey sense. His story of being discovered late and getting a lot of time is not uncommon for anyone in this group this year.

Bronte’s main linemate, Bauer Neudecker improved his game dramatically from the previous season. His shot, combined with his sense and leadership on the team are some reasons why he is the captain of the Chargers. What stands out about Bauer’s leadership is how he has bought into the process, a common trait on this group, and worked to help others get better. He talked to us about trying to take the extra year of eligibility to be a fifth year captain after next season. Like so many in this group, Bauer wants to be a Charger, and wants this group to keep developing. With Neudecker, Bronte jumped onto the scene and proved that he belongs. On the back end, Lucas Bahn’s leadership stood out for similar reasons. He chose to come to Huntsville and stay through the reinstatement of the program.

On the ice, his game has improved as he finished the year with six points (two goals, four assists). More importantly, he has played more minutes this year than any other Charger defender. His quiet leadership and ability to work with the new staff has lead to a lot of his success, and his effort, again this effort is common among this group, will help him and the program. We will spend a lot of time this offseason talking to more in this group about this year, but Bronte, Neudecker, and Bahn up front are three players that stand out to us among this group.

In net, the Chargers did not really know what they had with David Fessenden. Now they do. Fessenden is a top flight goaltender in college hockey who had many a high-save night for the Chargers. While the record does not show it, his statistics do. Night after night, the Chargers faced in excess of 35 shots per game, and Fessenden still saved 91 percent of them. While this team has things to work on going forward, finding a starting goaltender is not one of them. Ensuring he does not need to make 70 or more saves over a series is. We hope to publish more about his development from year one to this year, and on what he is working on for year three.

Before their season finale against Lake Superior State, Guerriero said of how they want the team to play ” I just want to see a passionate group tomorrow. I want to see a team who stays true to and plays HERD hockey. Our identity has made us successful this year. When we get away from that, we hurt ourselves. At the end of the day, I want to see guys playing hard and with pride.” This team did that all year, they worked together to play HERD hockey. Their collective physicality and effort throughout the year which produced some good results, and showed the staff how they can take this group to the next level.

He also said ,”Play with passion, play with pride, and play for each other. At the end of the day, we have to be selfless and willing to do anything it takes to win.” Those two sentences describe all of this program’s efforts this season. They worked to get better each day, and build the foundation for this program. Regardless of the future, which we have written about and covered, and will continue to look for more on, what this team did to be competitive in their games, sweep Ferris State at home, and show the world that a team that finished the year with 14 freshmen, many of whom had no division one offers, and some, like Bronte, who took on big roles, all leading the way with guidance of senior leaders Connor Wood, and Connor Merkley, both of whom set the example and showed the grit and physicality needed to compete at this level. While both may not be back next year, as this group moves forward, the example those two have set will resonate in Huntsville for years to come.

We will have more on this season, and stories about Chargers Hockey in the summer and beyond. This program needed a fresh start this season, and they got one. Beyond the box score, this team proved that it is on the course, as of now, of heading in the right direction.

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.

UAH Hockey: One game season time-some thoughts

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Think back in this game for a minute. On a five-on-three power play, against a very good Lake Superior State team, trailing 2-0, Lucas Bahn walked in and got around Yuki Miura and beat Mareks Mitens (LSSU netminder) clean. The game, for a brief moment was 2-1, but the Chargers looked ready to make a comeback. Then six seconds later, Pete Veillette got a turnover shorthanded and had all day to beat David Fessenden to regain the two goal lead for the Lakers who would go on to win 6-1 on the night. Now the Chargers will play in nothing but one game seasons the rest of the way. Should they win tomorrow, they get another one game season on Sunday, and so on. Here are some takeaways from tonight’s game.

Lucas Bahn is a leader on this team

It is hard to believe he is only a sophomore on this group. He plays like a senior pretty much every night. His power play goal was the highlight of the night for the Chargers, and the defender he deked, Yuki Miura, is one of the best penalty-killing forwards in the WCHA. His goal stands as the only marker that has beaten Mareks Mitens clean from the Chargers all season. As Head Coach Lance West said of his play ” Lucas has been great all year. He is our anchor back there and quietly goes about his job with a workman like attitude. I love the kid and how he approaches working.” Associate Head Coach Karlis Zirnis added ” Lucas has been playing great hockey for us. He is a very smart player and we depend on him a lot on both ends of the ice.”

Hit the net more

If we told you that despite the score, the Chargers actually played about as well as they did against Bemidji State in terms of finding chances, well, the metrics provide us some back up. They got 30 shot attempts, but in similar percentages to last weekend, their opponent only had to face 13 of them. The Lakers only had 50 shot attempts, but six of them found their way into the UAH net. The Chargers, once again, generated plenty of chances, but need to figure out other ways to hit the net. When your opponent only has five blocked shots on 30 attempts, and you only put 13 on net, well the math equates to many shots missing. Some were closer than others, but that is probably the most quantifiable aspect of tonight that the staff and players would like to correct tomorrow.

Delete the past

Every game from now on for this group is a chance to play another one. Tonight was the last time this team can lose and have another game to play. The effort from the group was there. The focus is now all on tomorrow, and trying to extend the series. As Zirnis said of tomorrow about his group, ” come out and compete and believe that you can play against anybody.” Game two happens tomorrow at 4:07 PM (central time).

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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What to watch for: UAH-LSSU

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Based on our conversation with Alabama Huntsville Hockey Head Coach Lance West, here are some things to watch this weekend as the Chargers look to compete against a very offensively skilled Laker Superior State team.

Cut the motion down

One of the biggest concepts in the Lakers’ game that West took the time to bring up was the motion at the point the Lakers play with. They do this with skilled forwards, combined with defenders like Will Riedell and Mitchell Oliver among others. The Lakers use this motion to counter teams that play through the middle so well and gum it up like Bemidji State often does. How the Chargers can break that down will go a long way in determining a winner for this series. For this to go well, look at some of the breakaways caused by the Chargers’ defense on poor lateral passes from Bemidji State, when this team is active in its own end and can shorten the zone time of its opponent, they can earn chances going the other way.

Score first

Easier said than done of course, especially against one of the best goaltenders in the country, Mareks Mitens. When the Chargers score first, they have been able to play to their system better. When this team scored first against Bowling Green on their Senior Day, for a little bit they were able to push the pace and takes some more opportunities for themselves. The Lakers have one of the better offenses in the WCHA, and know how to close down games in their own end when they score first, if West’s group can push the pace early on, they may have more of a chance if they can get the Lakers out of sorts.

Simple is best

Against Bemidji State, we saw something in person that we have seen via Flo Hockey all year, this team, at times is trying too hard not to score, but to make an extra pass when it is not always needed. The effort in this group is great, and more consistent than the group we saw last January at Ralph Engelstad Arena. That is not what this is about, but rather concentrating efforts of the group to get to the net a little simpler. As Peyton Francis has condensed his game to channel his speed more towards the net, compared to going east-west, this team is well served to do the same. This team has not beaten Mitens cleanly on any of the goals he has conceded against the Chargers all year. They need rebounds and weird bounces to go their way, and focusing on the initial shot compared to making an extra pass is one way to take on this Lake Superior State team.

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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Charging to the postseason: Lance West on UAH preparing to face Lake Superior State

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.

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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BSU 4 UAH 0: Recap and three thoughts

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Other than the pace of scoring, for the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville, today’s regular season finale against Bemidji State looked eerily similar to the series opening loss yesterday.

That is, the Chargers had multiple chances to take the lead or tie things up, but could not solve Bemidji State goaltender Zach Driscoll who put another shutout on the board on his Senior Day game. Defensively, for the first two periods, the Chargers were able to limit the looks of the Beavers to the periphery, and clear the danger areas for most of the first 40 minutes.

Their issue, as was the case last night, came down to dealing with long shifts and getting tired out. Bemidji State has worn out teams all year to score a lot of goals, and today in the first two periods was no different.

The moment that put the game away for the Beavers came in the third period. Peyton Francis came down into the offensive zone midway through and hit both posts with his shot. At the other end, Alex Adams potted an unassisted goal to make it 3-0. Upon review, his goal stood as Francis’ shot never crossed the red line according to any available view. 27 seconds later, Adams scored against Derek Krall again to make it a 4-0 game. Despite multiple chances from the Chargers to round out the game, they could not solve Driscoll, who finished with 13 saves for the game.

What have we learned going into the postseason

This Chargers group did a lot of things right this weekend, when you look beyond the box score against a defensively strong Bemidji State team that will serve this group well next weekend against Laker Superior State, and beyond. They also did some things this weekend that will be hot topics of discusson with UAH Head Coach Lance West and his staff this weekend.

Here’s some takeaways from today

Take the quick out/make the simple play

Multiple times today the Chargers could not get a clear and a line change. Associate Head Coach Karlis Zirnis, among others, has driven home to this team the value of simplifying their game on defense. When you face a veteran team like Bemidji State who knows how to make you pay for your mistakes, and you make them.well the result is what we saw today. As this team matures, they will learn to take the simple out to get to their offense. In net, while Derek Krall had some nice saves today, the team gave up their second goal after he did not cover the puck and the Beavers hemmed the Chargers in. While he will get better at making that read, and had some highlights today, the ability to make the simple play or clear was not shown as a need by just the skaters for the Chargers today.

Speed will bring this program forward

Two players stood out this weekend for their speed, Tyrone Bronte and Peyton Francis. Both of them had some of the best looks the Chargers had all weekend, and Francis came millimeters from making things a one goal game before Bemidji State scored their two insurance markers to provide the final score. Speed is what will get this program to the next level, and these two have it in spades. Their effort today and this weekend was some of the best for the Chargers. Francis had many good looks today, and Bronte threw some of the best checks of the game for either team. His ability to get physical and add some checking to his game has grown leaps and bounds since he came to Huntsville

Delete the past

This team has one series to win, next week against a Lake Superior State team that they were about nine seconds away from earning at least two points against on the year, all on the road. The Lakers have a bit more offensive upside than Bemidji State, and one of the best goaltenders in the country in Mareks Mitens. They are also a bit more open in their game and present more opportunities to be countered than the Beavers do. If the Chargers can play the same way they did in the first and second period tonight, and make the simple play to get a few more clears, then against a team that is more open and more offense forward, they can make things interesting.

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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PHOTOS: BSU 2-UAH 0

Credit to all photos belongs to Kelsey Lee of Violet Turtle Photography

Check out Kelsey’s photos of Alabama Huntsville as they took on Bemidji State yesterday. The Chargers lost 2-0, but showed they could compete with a veteran Bemidji State side. The finale takes place today at 2:07 PM.

For more of Kelsey’s work from yesterday click the link below for her full gallery.

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.

UAH-BSU: Three things to watch from the Chargers in the regular season finale

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Well, today is the last chance for the Chargers to earn some points before the WCHA postseason kicks off for them Friday night on the road at Lake Superior State. They did some good things yesterday in defending against an always formidable Bemidji State side, losing 2-0. Despite the good from last night, the Chargers could not solve Zach Driscoll, and only made him face 16 shots on the evening. Here are three things to watch to get an idea of how this game could go for the Chargers. Keep in mind, while the result of game does not change the first round opponent for either team next weekend, it could be the difference for the Beavers in plaiing in the NCAA Tournament or not. They are squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and a loss to the Chargers would hurt them in the “eye test” portion of what the Selection committee is looking at 14 days from today when the NCAA Tournament field is unveiled. The last regular season, conference game for the Chargers against Bemidji State presents Lance West’s team with an opportunity to keep their rivals out of the NCAA Tournament.

Here are three things to watch from the Chargers in the finale today

Shot attempt generation

The Chargers, in the first and second period yesterday, had more offenive zone time than they have earned in ther past few games. They did not convert any of those chances into goals. To compound that, on the night, the team only had 29 shot attempts. Of those, only one of those shot attempts came on the power play, by Peyton Francis. It was blocked. This team has improved in their systems, and cohesion from last year to this year, and the next consistent harbinger of that improvement is in how they can convert on their offensive zone time. In addition, this team conceded 69 shot attempts on the night. While they blocked 22 of those looks, it goes to the efficiency of getting the system. When you have to block that many shots, consistently, eventually your team will tire out and be more susceptible to taking penalties and giving up goals on long shifts. Both Bemidji State goals came on long shifts and off a series of plays that made David Fessenden’s job tough.

Development matters

If we had to put together a world cloud of what any of the coaches have said to us this year, about this team, it is development. Last night saw Peyton Francis in the top six, and he played well on the wing there, and on the power play. His speed, combined with the shot and speed of Tyrone Bronte and Bauer Neudecker on the power play was the most high-end speed line that the Chargers had last night. Francis has the speed and skill to earn a top six role on this team, and his work yesterday was nice to see to give the Chargers another option to play with Neudecker and Bronte full time next year.

On the back end, despite taking a delayed penalty that lead to an extra attacker goal, Ayodele Adeniye played well for the Chargers, not with his normal partner Brian Scoville, but with Dayne Finnson. The offensive upside of Finnson, combined with the defensive skill of Adeniye had a good night for the Chargers. Over this year, Adeniye has gotten better at stepping up into the play and generating some looks. On the defensive side, his ability to clear attackers in front of the goal has been a constant for the Chargers. Like Adeniye, Scoville had a decent night playing with Lucas Bahn except for taking two minor slashing penalties back to back in the first period. His defense and ability to stay at home gives Lucas more space to create the offense he is good at generating.

Game Management

When Bemidji State came out in the third period, they played the best of their three in the final stanza. They earned their only goal in that period on a delayed penalty. The issue for the Chargers in that period was shot generation. They only had four shots on net, compared to 12 from the Beavers. Despite not getting burned for many goals in a period, as a few teams have done to this group, their ability to generate offense or suppress the other team’s is another area this staff is working on constantly, answering back when your opponent does really well. They have a chance to hurt the tournament chances of their rival, get some momentum going into the postseason, and show how far they have come as a group one more time before the postseason starts in five days. The puck drops at 2:07 PM.

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.

Chargers show promise in 2-0 loss to Bemidji State and more

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Tonight, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville came in with 10 forwards, and six defenders ready to take on a Bemidji State team looking to polish its resume as an at large tournament team. The Chargers, after today’s result with Lake Superior State winning, know that another trip to Sault Ste. Marie is in their near future. This weekend is an opportunity for the coaching staff to see different things from this team, and figure out where they stand as a roster heading into the postseason. The finale provides one more chance for a group still developing to pu their best foot forward before the postseason starts next week.

Line Chart for the Chargers from today’s game

Given this, for the Chargers to have any chance, they had to get going early. They were not able to solve Bemidji State senior netminder Zach Driscoll all evening despite having some good chances early on. The one in the below picture was off a Tyrone Bronte partial breakaway where he nearly lifted a backhand over Driscoll to make the score 1-0.

Tyrone Bronte is denied a breakaway goal on the backhanded attempt, by Zach Driscoll of Bemidji State – Credit Kelsey Lee \Violet Turtle Photography

After this Bronte look, the Chargers had to chase the game a little bit more .Both goals came on the two best offensive zone shifts for Bemidji State. Aaron Miller put home a slot shot after the Beavers cycled the puck for a while. In the second, on delayed, penaltry Brendan Hartris was able to put home the final goal of the night to provide the final margin. In net, David Fessenden was stupendous once again with 31 saves in the effort.

Here are some things that stood out on the night

Better (game) management

This team has worked on gamae management all year. That is, staying level and fighting through the waves the other team gets of good momentum and maximizing your own. Tonight, the zone time on offense for the Chargers was a bit better on aggregate, and there’s still more room for growth Tonight is closer to the ideal for this team than some of its recent games. One stand out for this team in terms of consistency and effort is Connor Merkley. The senior forward centered the second line for Lance West’s group and provided a dose of needed physicality behind the net earlier in the game to kick start the offense. It was not unnoticed, and a good sign for this team down the stretch.

Evaluation season

If you look at the line chart you will see that on the back end, Brian Scoville and Ayo Adeniye played with different partners for the first time in a long while, The staff is still seeing what it has for the next year, and sometimes that will result in a new look for the series finale. Look for the forwards to move up and down in the line chart,among other things. Credit Bauer Neudecker and Tyrone Bronte for the fire both played with tonight. We would not expect those two to get broken up. The finale gives this group a great chance to put themselves forward as an underdog candidate, how this group responds is up to them.