UAH Hockey: Credit the Returners-Part Two

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

The Chargers of Alabama Huntsville have done quite a lot in this pandemic-marred season so far. Part of that is how well the 13 freshmen have integrated into this group. Another part of that is the exponential growth of those who came back. This is the second part of our series documenting the sucess of the retuners. If you did not get a chance to look at the last bit of info on some of the returners, there will be a link at the bottom of this article to go back and check that out. Since writing the first piece, we have seen Bauer Neudecker continue to thrive on Tyrone Bronte’s line and showcase the sneaky shot that David Fessenden and others know about. In addition, his linemate Lucas Bahn has pitched in in some key moments, especially on the power play. He leads a power play ranked fourth in the nation coming into the weekend.

As we said before, and as is still relevant now,” in order for this team to thrive, the returning players who toughed out so much to stay Chargers have to improve. Given the unique year this is, some returners are playing for ice time next season with their play this year. That is, due to the pandemic, the NCAA is allowing players with more academic work to not have this year count against their eligibility. Therefore, all players, especially the returners are competing for ice time now, and a roster spot next year to some degree. As Carmine Guerriero said when we talked to him, they have all bought into the new way these Chargers are playing, and it has showed.”

Let’s look beyond the top line numbers and look at how some more players have improved year-over-year.

Dayne Finnson

The junior defender put home the most thrilling goal of the season so far, and one of the most thrilling at the Von Braun Center of any scored in this program’s Division One existence. His improvement goes beyond that. For starters, he already has more goals in 8 games this year, than in his previous 64 games over his first two seasons played (two this year, one in the previous two seasons). In addition, he has both of those goals on the power play. When you look at reasons why this power play is fourth in the country, the blue line’s contribution is a big part of that. For Finnson he is also two points from equalizing his points output last year (has five in eight games this season, and had seven in 32 games last year). We knew Finnson could defend well before this year, but him adding as much offense as he has done to this point is a welcome addition to the diversity of point contributions the Chargers need.

Drew Lennon

The junior defender, with one three point game against Ferris State, exceeded his career pont total in his first  two seasons in one game as his three points were a big factor in the thriller. Beyond that, he plays a cerebral game, similar to Bahn. He has shown an ability to find the opening when setting up the offense, as shown on the nice pass he made to Quinn Green earning him the secondary assist on Ben Allen’s equalizer against Ferris State with 2.3 seconds left.  Throughout the year, look for how Lennon compliments the assertive game he plays on the scoresheet. He has the potential to stretch defenses like he did against Ferris State. Given the speed the Chargers have up front, Lennon’s keen eye on offense becomes even more critical, as he showed against Ferris State.

Ben Allen

The third line center for the Chargers scored the equalizer against the Bulldogs last Friday, his ability this year stretches far beyond that. He plays on a line with Peyton Francis and Connor Wood. All three of them provide superb speed and energy that helps extend what these Chargers can do. On that goal, he got the primary assist from Quinn Green, a speedy freshman who spent last weekend on the first line with Tyrone Bronte and Neudecker. That shows his ability to move around when needed, and the staff likes the speed he plays with. From watching him play last year against North Dakota, his ability to defend was apparent to those watching then. This year, he has gotten noticeably faster and provided West with more options for every situation Having a few players that start in the bottom six of your forward corps that can move up in key moments is part of building a better program. Allen has two points this year already, and is on track to far exceed the 16 games played last year if he keeps playing his role as he is.

All of the returners have provided a needed element to this team, and we will have updates on all of them including ones not discussed in this upcoming article. All of them, even ones not mentioned in the first or second article have improved their games and provided the leadership this team needs.

Link to first article on the returners.

https://seamoresports.com/2021/01/06/uah-hockey-credit-the-returners/

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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AIC Third Period Comeback Comes up Short in 5-3 Loss to Army: Now What

Photo Credit: Kelly Shea- AIC Athletics

Today, the Yellow Jackets of AIC started strong. One of the top goal scorers in the nation, Tobias Fladeby put his side ahead 1-0 against the Black Knights of Army West Point. Soon after that, the lead would disappear and despute a furious comeback attempt, would come up short as the Yellow Jackets suffered their first Atlantic Hockey loss of the season, ceding first place in the conference in terms of point percentage to Robert Morris.

With the basics out of the way, let’s look at some of the good that came out of this game, and potential adjustments to watch for from Head Coach Eric Lang as we highly suspect that he will work to improve his team’s effort shorthanded. Army was able to find open spaces on those goals, often catching the penalty kill out of position, and making Stefano Durante’s life a lot harder in net, despite facing 21 shots in total.

What went well

Well, Tobias Fladeby is slowly playing himself onto a lot of team’s radars as an Undrafted Free Agent candidate. His ability to find space in all times on the ice, combind with playmakers like Ellijah Barriga (injured, did not play today) setting him up is superb to watch. In addition, Fladeby’s speed is consistent, and he uses it to find those hard-to-defend areas that he puts home a lot of his goals from.

Then of course we come to Eric Otto. The cancer survivor put home his first goal of the his career today on some nice work by Eric Lang’s fourth line to make it a one goal game at the time. His goal, along with the consistent play of Lang’s fourth line featuring Aaron Grounds was probably the biggest bright spot of the night for this team.

What to watch for

Lang is a master in getting his team’s schedule as quickly refilled as possible after postponments this year. He has done so this week, as the Yellow Jackets face a Long Island team that they have recently beaten that plays a similar system to Army’s. How AIC can eliminate some of the grade-a looks they gave up on their penalty kills today will go a long way to determing the result.

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.

The Home of the Underdog: We have only just begun

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Tonight, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville take the ice for their first home game of the 2020-2021 season. We have spent over a year covering these Chargers, and have, from our post in Fargo, used our time and talent to promote the superb effort brought about to save this program, and their efforts to move forward to a new conference home. Today, we still cover the Chargers as an independent outlet for two reasons. First, this team is full of unheralded players, many of whom did not have a division one offer before this past June. Second, not many media outlets with a bigger distribution take the time to cover stories relating to the Chargers, so we have been and will continue to do so.

The Chargers are a big part of what we cover, but as you have seen, we are covering more teams in college hockey than in the past.

Why?

Well, as you see from our last article when we wrote about independent journalism, not many folks were on hand to cover AIC, nor really focused on them before their win over St. Cloud State. That is where we come in.

We endeavor to cover as many college-hockey, and college hockey adjacent stories (alums in pro leagues, recruits, and more) as can two people with full time jobs and an active two year old son can do while putting out the best quality of work we can do.

What does this mean?

Well, it means that we will be checking in with as many teams as we can in college hockey this year to chat with players and coaches to do two things. First, as always, we will write independent stories about them, as we always have. Second, this research this year, and beyond will help us contribute to something new and unique. We plan on writing up a guide on (approximately) the top 100 college undrafted free agents, spread out over a period of two months. Each player on our list will have their article written and published as soon as we can for when their season ends.

Why would we do this?

Well, this is an extension of our work, reporting on underdogs and their successes. We, of course will have more stories on as many players and teams as we can, and release information on some candiates to sign contracts professionally in North America as each team’s season ends. This way, fans of the game we all love can read about where not just the players most likely to land on an NHL roster the following year will go, but where players like Aaron Dell (had we been writing when he left UND) will go to. Our list will be complied based on interviews with players and coaches regarding their strengths and ability to play professionally at any level. Any ranking will be done based on potential to ascend to the NHL within five years of leaving.

What about your other sports that you have covered?

Well, we still may write about them from time to time, odds are, if a good college sports game from two teams is on, we may be watching it, and if its near us, we could go to it. When Mississippi Valley State came to face UND, they had not a single writer there to cover them, so we stepped up to let the Delta Devils tell their side of the story. For all of the underdogs in college sports, we hope to be able to tell as many stories as possible, as our time allows us to do.

How can you help?

There are four ways to support us, first off, read our work and leave us honest feedback. When a team we cover does not do well, we will so state this truth, and we aim to be independent. Feedback on our work is always welcome. Also, if you like our work, do not hesitate to share it. Any time our work is amongst a wider audience, our views skyrocket, and it gives us more ideas to cover different topics on different teams.

Third, if you are so inclined donate at the link: click here, as funding helps us upgrade our equipment, and allows us to pursue more stories and grow our network. More importantly, a donation makes you a part of the Seamore Sports Family. If you own a business or want to sponsor us send us a direct message on twitter, or email us at seamoresport@gmail.com. We will work with you to negotiate a rate and a target audience for stories and photos that you may want sponsored, and provide any metrics you need to justify your decision. We have had our best month since starting this site because we have written different stories almost every day about things across the college hockey landscape, and do not plan to stop.

UAH Hockey: Credit the Returners

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

The Chargers of Alabama Huntsville is preparing for their home opener against a Ferris State team that, like UAH, wants to win sooner rather than later. In order for this team to thrive, the returning players who toughed out so much to stay Chargers have to improve. Given the unique year this is, some returners are playing for ice time next season with their play this year. That is, due to the pandemic, the NCAA is allowing players with more academic work to not have this year count against their eligibility. Therefore, all players, especially the returners are competing for ice time now, and a roster spot next year to some degree. As Carmine Guerriero said when we talked to him, they have all bought into the new way these Chargers are playing, and it has showed.

Let’s look beyond the top line numbers and look at how some players have improved year-over-year.

Bauer Neudecker

The junior forward is already halfway towards his point output from last season, six, in an equal amount games played so far. He has been a part of the most team-oriented first line that these Chargers have had for a few years. As this st\eason has gone on, we have talked to the coaching staff and they, along with some of his own teammates say that his shot is the most deceptive on the team. The fact that he has two goals on 11 shots is also nice to see. When he put up seven goals he had 45 shots on net as a freshman. That is to say, he has room to grow and get better this season and if he could help his line get more zone time, then his shooting percentage will tick up a bit. If the Chargers’ top line can get some more sustained posession in the offensive zone, then he is set to the biggest beneficiary of the extra attempts.

Tyr Thompson

The other first-line junior has time playing on the first line with Neudecker and Bronte. Tyr himself has shown a massive improvement in efficiency and ability to produce more for this team in a bigger role. His ability to score and provide a spark for Bronte to use cannot be understated for its importance. Last year he scored six goals in 32 games, and is has two goals already in six games played This year, we have seen him all over the ice for Lance West’s team, because the program values what he brings to the group and fits their culture. Tyr’s numbers, like Bauer’s should go up if that line can sustain more shifts in the offensive zone.

Lucas Bahn

The sophomore has done nothing but get better in his time on campus. Some of his work will not show up in a box score and that is quite alright. Of all six UAH defenders on any given night, he is arguably the most versatile. He also quarter-backs plays as needed as well. From last to this season, Bahn’s gotten better at making quality passes and has superb gap work against all teams he plays. In addition, he is already halfway to his point total from last season (4 in 31 games) in just six games played. The year Bahn had last season was not indicative of his full skill, and he is on pace to finish this year better in nearly every category as the leader of this power play.

Look for more on the returners throughout the year, but at first glance, those who have stayed are playing at levels higher than last year, and given the new direction the program is choosing, keeping up with the returners is a worthwhile thought.

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.

“Doing the Right Thing Every Day”- RMU Head Coach Derek Schooley on the Success of the Colonials

(Photo Credit: Justin Berl-RMU Athletics)

Derek Schooley has been the only head coach for the Colonials of Robert Morris. He built the program so it could begin playing in the 2004-2005 season and has been their leader every single day. While you may not know some of the names of his team this year, they are playing on a pace that will open a lot of people’s eyes very quickly outside of Atlantic Hockey this season. Through 11 games, the Colonials are 8-3, with a stretch of nine games in 19 days awaiting them.

To deal with this, Schooley has had to do a few things. First, on October 1 he officially announced the hiring of former Alabama Huntsville Coach Mike Corbett. It was a natural fit for both of them, given the relationship they have had through Air Force Academy Coach Frank Serratore. Both men have coached under Serratore’s leadership and both carry a player first mentality they honed under his tutelage. Schooley left to build the Colonials from the ground up, and Corbett stepped in to fill that role.

As Schooley said on hiring Corbett, “As soon as I had an opening.. I reached out to him immediately.” Both men respect the experience each other has behind the bench, and Schooley was also quick to point out the decade of success as an assistant that Mike Corbett enjoyed at Air Force. When it comes to building a team and being around the right group of people, both are on the same page. In the always changing world of college hockey, to have someone that you have known for two decades work with you is a bit rare.

Back to this group, Schooley is leading a team with only three seniors but one that plays a very veteran style. The Colonials are one of the biggest teams in the country, and they use that size to their advantage, especially on the rare non conference trip. This team took top-10 Bowling Green into the third period up 1-0 and ended up barely losing 2-1 after a tough third period against one of the best teams in the country. The staff is happy with where this group is heading. The Colonials play a physical brand of hockey, but also have more than enough skill to make them a hard team to play against.

The captain of his group, Nick Prkusic, is respected by Schooley and the staff. Prkusic came in a natural goal scorer, and over his time with the Colonials has added some playmaking prowess to his game, along with always being a strong defender in his own end. Through his talent, he has over a point per game so far (nine assists and three goals in 11 games played).

Despite the maturity with which he plays the game, combined with his superb leadership skills, and his responsibility in his own end, Schooley has not gotten any calls or questions from the NHL about Prkusic, Given Schooley’s background and pedigree he knows future professionals in the game of hockey and to him, “Nick’s got the ability to play at the next level.”

On this team, and preparing them for the upcoming daunting schedule of 9 games in 19 days, the leadership group of the Colonials and staff have a plan. The season is divided into seven game segments. This segmented approach by Schooley allows his players to keep focused on the here and now. Given the pandemic we are living through, games are not always certain until players get on the ice.

In order to help this season be played, Atlantic Hockey, the Colonials’ Conference, has utilized a divisional alignment to cut down on travel. It leads to minimizing hotel stays and keeping pods of teams together to minimize scheduling calamities. Schooley has been nothing but thankful for the hard work Atlantic Hockey did to get teams back on the ice, and their diligence in dealing with postponements and trying their best to maintain competitive games.

In those games, Schooley has his players playing the way he wants them to. With their size and speed, they are beginning to find consistency in their lines, and the stellar play of rookie Noah West has given them three viable goaltenders that can step in on any given night.

All three goalies, West, Reid Cooper, and Dyllan Lubbesmeyer could see time as the next seven game segment for these Colonials after they finish this one takes place in 13 days. Due to cancellations and postponements, Robert Morris, now ranked 20th in the country, is effectively doing all they can to support their student-athletes playing a professional schedule in terms of games played.

Of how he works with his team looking to make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014, one thing from Schooley’s style is very much in line with the approach he and his staff have taken to managing things during this pandemic.

As Schooley says, “it’s about constantly making sure you’re doing the right thing everyday.” If his team keeps winning seven game segments playing a professional-like schedule then his Colonials will be well equipped to compete with AIC for Atlantic Hockey’s Regular and Postseason titles.

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.

AIC Bounces Back Against LIU: Now What?

(Photo Credit: Kelly Shea-AIC Athletics)

The Yellow Jackets of American International College (AIC) came out in their first effort of the new year and earned a well-deserved 2-1 victory over the Sharks of Long Island University (LIU). Chris Theodore and Aaron Grounds provided the AIC response to a Zack Bross shorthanded goal to earn the series opening victory.

This team played with the same effort it did in its series finale loss to Quinnipiac, except they had more to show for it. Stefano Durante was again stellar in net for this team making 19 saves on 20 shots for an evening where he was not facing much. LIU finished the night with a mere 32 shot attempts to 51 for the Yellow Jackets.

In practical terms that indicates the reality of this game. AIC controlled time and space for the vast majority of it, and if not for Garret Metcalf playing a nice game for the Sharks of LIU, combined with the Sharks blocking 12 of those looks, this score could have better reflected the outcome of the game.

A look at the Goal Scorers

Let’s focus some more on Aaron Grounds for a moment. The six feet, three inches tall Jamestown, North Dakota native seems to be a constant in Head Coach Eric Lang’s ever changing bottom six. His power and ability to be the most physical player on the ice is an ever-constant threat for these Yellow Jackets. On his goal, he was the beneficiary of a nice setup from Parker Revering.

He found Julius Janhonen through the neutral zone who saw Grounds. From there, Aaron walked in and picked the far corner against Metcalf. As Grounds told us, he wants to keep improving on his skating and finesse work and, today was a good indication that the extra dedication to his craft he is putting in is paying off. Eric Lang recruited Grounds for his physical game, and ability to chip in on offense, so far, he has been proven right on both counts.

The Yellow Jackets are themselves a very deep team especially at the forward position. On any given night, Lang has multiple quality forwards that would be in a lot of team’s lineups not playing, and Grounds has had to fight for time against all of them. At the pace he is going on, Grounds could find himself moving up the depth chart very soon if he keeps playing his game as he is.

In addition to Grounds, credit Chris Theodore for his consistency and improvement. He finds himself playing with Tobias Fladeby, one of the leading scorers in the country on Lang’s premier scoring line. Theodore is already two points away from equalizing his highest output at AIC which came in his freshman season with 10 points. That took him 34 games to put up those numbers, he has eight points in an equal amount of games already. As defenses look to match up with Fladeby, Theodore will get more scoring chances himself, and looks ready for that responsibility. The two have excellent chemistry playing together, and are part of one of the more unheralded scoring trios in the game with Elijah Barriga centering them.

As for the Yellow Jackets, they travel to take on these same Sharks tomorrow night at 5:00 PM Central Time. On paper, the team of good humans played a one goal game today and won. In reality, the possession numbers and other metrics like the play of Theodore and Grounds showed a team continuing to improve, and always striving to get better.

With all of this in mind, part of the reason why the score was so close, was Long Island itself. The Sharks did not give AIC many rebound looks, and closed down the inside quite well, throughout the game. Lang’s teams do not often get outworked in the areas around the blue paint, but today they did. AIC has to be better physically tomorrow. The Yellow Jackets have to improve their ability to box out and get to the net a bit better, otherwise, the Sharks will find more chances around the net than Lang would like to allow.

As Lang said of AIC’s opponent, “They are extremely well coached, have high buy in, commitment to playing hard, and playing the right way. I anticipate tomorrow will be no different.”

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: Click Here

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

Carmine Guerriero: A Competitor in the Net and Mentor Behind the Bench

(Photo Credit: Charles Edgeworth IV.-UAH Athletics)

University of Alabama Huntsville Hockey Assistant Coach Carmine Guerriero has been a goalie most of his life. He played with a competitive fire to be the best he could growing up in the Montreal area. The Charger alumnae and assistant coach on this developing team became a goalie when he was in pee-wee hockey. When he was younger his dad, coach of his team put him in net because it was his turn to play the position, a few weeks into the year his dad played him for the rest of the year because no one else wanted to do it.

The following season Carmine in net made sense as his teammates wanted him in net, and from there he sought to get better and improve. The Quebec native that grew up watching Patrick Roy dazzle the world in net for his hometown team, and a few years later, Carmine would go on to dazzle college hockey.

In 2015, he set the single game Alabama Huntsville Hockey record for saving 76 shots on net over five periods of hockey in a postseason game against Michigan Tech. This single game record is one of the many highlights Guerriero had while playing goalie for the Chargers . The opposing netminder in that game, Jamie Phillips, is now the volunteer goalie coach for the Huskies, the opponent UAH is set to face this weekend.

After Carmine set multiple records at UAH, he played in the ECHL for a brief stint before finishing his time on the ice in the second tier French League. While Carmine earned a tryout chance with the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds for the next season, he decided to move on to his next venture, and one he had done as a summer job growing up, coaching. He credits Brent Brekke with St. Lawrence University for giving him a chance in the 2019-2020 campaign as the Saints’ Volunteer Goalie Coach.

He then joined Lance West’s staff this fall as he moved up the ranks to being a paid assistant coach. The NCAA does not allow for more than two paid assistants per team, and often times, goalie coaches have to find other work to allow them to be volunteers with the team they want to help, as Carmine did at St. Lawrence University.

Guerriero has the same desire to get better and preach accountability with his team behind the bench as a coach as he did on the ice as a goalie. When one of his goalies are out of position, he said that, “I don’t let them slack off.” That is, when they are not in position, Carmine coaches them and mentors them to get better, and in equal measure he is their biggest advocate and encourages them at all times, especially when they remedy position issues and play where they need to be. He appreciates the daily hard work of all of his goalies provide on a daily basis as they work to get better under his tutelage.

For the rest of the team, Carmine on the bench is a massive help. As a goalie he sees the game differently as he has an instinctive eye for plays developing. To put that more practically, he knows how to harness the growing speed of this Chargers’ forward group and works with them to get better shots on net. As a netminder he knows what is tough to defend against and he pushes his team in the offensive end to get more of those chances. For the defense corps which he has been a part of radically improving, he knows where defenders need to be that minimizes top-quality looks along with how they should block shots.

On this Charger team, he notes the buy in from all who have chosen to return and come to Huntsville saying that, ” everybody who didn’t want to be here, left.” Of course, Carmine was added to the staff well after the roster churn over the summer, but he appreciates the hard work and the little things this group here does. For example, he notices that the entire bench cheers in equal measure for practice shot blocks as they do in the game.

He followed that with saying, “we have a group that wants to be here.. they know what it takes to be successful.”

In addition to being thankful to be back on campus with this team, Carmine was effusive in his praise for Lance West and Karlis Zirnis, in equal measure to there thoughts of him. They both provide him valuable advice and help him get better as a coach every day, just as he mentors his goalies and everyone else on this team.

In addition to all of this, Carmine is the lead administrative liaison for the staff. He runs the UAH Hockey Twitter Account, and has done a superb job in program promotion along with helping ensure the numerous off-ice tasks that need completion each day get done.

Every day Guerriero also studies the game. Breaking down video is one of his favorite parts of coaching, and he is able to analyze events in a unique manner given his background. As Charger fans have seen, having a goalie as an assistant coach has benefits in all areas of the ice beyond just the net. The increase in goals per game is a testament to that fact. Regardless of what happens next, Guerriero is as grateful for being back in Huntsville as West, Zirnis, and fans of this team are that he has returned.

Look for his influence in how the Chargers adapt to things in the second half. When defenders get out of position look at their response in the next shift, when forwards fire a shot into the crest of a goalie with time and space, look at what they do in their next shift. When a goaltender for this team kicks a rebound to a high danger area, look at the next shot they face. While all three men have a say in what happens next, Carmine’s voice is a big part of that equation. Like the Chargers on the ice, his improvement behind the bench is consistent, and he wants to get better each day.

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: Click Here

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

UND in the NCHC Pod: Quick Thoughts on the Last Two Games

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

The Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey Team played two completely different games in their last two matchups in the NCHC pod. They lost a 5-3 affair against the St. Cloud State Huskies on Saturday afternoon, before coming back to earn a 6-3 victory over the Broncos of Western Michigan the next day. Both of these games were more lopsided than the score would indicate.

There were some things we noticed in these two games. We shall break them into the good, and the things to improve upon and watch going forward.

The Good

This team has scoring from all over the ice. Any forward on this team, and nearly every defender is capable of key contributions at any time. That makes line matching hard against a team with four lines that all have a place. In addition to this depth scoring, the development of this forward group is something quite fun to watch. Senior Jasper Weatherby has moved from a healthy scratch as a freshman to leader of one of the shutdown lines of this team, and one capable of playing in the top six on any night. In addition, Weatherby plays a game very similar to the last Fighting Hawk to wear number 14, Austin Poganski. He is physical, tough to play against, and plays an effective center on this team’s power play.

If we had one idea to switch things up on special teams from time to time, throwing Jasper on the first line of the power play to provide a better screen than Shane Pinto would be it. It goes back to line matching, and spreading the wealth around a bit. Pinto’s prowess against a second penalty kill unit is a very intriguing proposition, and forces teams to rely on their depth to take on , effectively the second first power play unit.

We cannot lead the good pass us by without touching on Riese Gaber. How this sensational goal scorer was not drafted stupefies us. He is a smaller player, but plays just as tough as Weatherby, and has a tough to detect release, capable of scoring really quickly. The competition for top rookie in the NCHC could be between him, and Carter Savoie of Denver, who possesses similar traits. When all is said and done, it is quite possible that Gaber as a Fighting Hawk for multiple seasons gets him a better pro trajectory than the one a former number 17 is on, Tyson Jost.

The things to watch for/things that have to get better

This team is one of the best in the country, with that said there are some trends that fast playing teams like the Huskies can take advantage of if they can force the issue. First off, the Fighting Hawks, for as good as they are, are not getting enough put back looks on net relative to their shot attempts. Teams have gotten better at boxing them out, and when you see a high shot block number, that confirms two things. First, the Hawks have possession a lot, which they often do, and that teams are minimizing the effect of that possession on score relative to shot attempts. This is how teams UND would likely face in the NCAA Tournament, especially early on, will play. For proof of how well this works, as the 2018-2019 Huskies for a reference on what happens when opportunistic teams gum up the neutral zone, and suppress grade a chances while letting you feast on grade b chances.

In addition, this team has two goaltenders that should get NHL contracts, in Adam Scheel and Peter Thome. With that being said, this team in front of them on a lot of goals given up has made their lives a lot tougher than needed to be. Other teams are making a lot of cross ice looks in the offensive zone, especially the Huskies. To beat the Fighting Hawks, teams are not focusing on holding the zone as much as they are finding quality looks. If teams find the back door play, they have taken that so far over trying to hold the zone against a team that is very tough to maintain pressure against for too long.

Going forward

Saying all of this, UND is missing two of its better defenders in Jake Sanderson and Tyler Kleven who are preparing for the World Juniors Tournament, and have been skating with two less forwards than normal. Some of the issues we have seen hopefully will abate when the two freshmen come back into the lineup, and the team can heal. Other things, like changing special teams up on occasion, and limiting the cross ice feeds in the zone are two minor details to keep an eye on as this Fighting Hawks team finishes in the Pod and beyond.

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: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell

Tyrone Bronte: Humble on a Rollercoaster

(Photo Credit: LSSU Athletics)

Alabama Huntsville Hockey center Tyrone Bronte is relatively unique to Men’s College Hockey. He hails from Melbourne, Australia and is one of the few players from down under to play at the Division One level.

With that said, his story of how he got to Huntsville given the unique circumstances of the program, combined with just coming to America this fall make it more exceptional. Through all that Fiona and Paul, his parents have sacrificed and gone through for Tyrone and his brother Declan to play ice hockey, Tyrone, like a lot of hockey players we know, is incredibly humble and happy to be where he is. in fact, he is so humble, he did not even realized he was named the Hockey Commissioner’s Association Rookie of the Month that he did not even know what the award was at first. It took some of his teammates saying congratulations twice for him to get that he was WCHA and National Rookie of the Month, which he first learned about on twitter. Bronte also takes that humility off the ice as well. When asked which of the eight Chargers that play Fortnite is the best, he deferred to his roommate, and NAHL teammate, Adrian Danchenko.

Tyrone’s upbringing around the game we go, ice hockey in Melbourne is not very common, and his parents worked hard to get him and Declan involved in many sports growing up. Around the time Tyrone was seven, he and his brother received roller skates on Christmas Eve, and his family went roller skating and got to a skate park the next day. He soon saw people playing roller hockey, was asked to join, and he did. He worked his way up over time, before making the natural jump to ice hockey. Bronte worked his way up in roller and ice hockey and kept being asked to play at the next level, including playing for his country.

He did play three games for the Omaha Lancers two seasons ago, but has spent most of his past two seasons in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights organization in the North American Hockey League where he met Danchenko. During that time he put up 116 points in 155 games and finished his junior career leading the Knights as their Captain.

Bronte’s story of how he got to Huntsville is all too uncommon. To start, he did not even have the Chargers on his radar when the program was cut before being reinstated. He started following the #SaveUAHhockey campaign “purely out of hoping my friend (Danchenko) had a place to play.” As more of the original class went elsewhere after the folding and reinstatement of the program, more spots opened up. Head Coach Lance West then proceeded to call Bronte at the beginning of June without ever seeing him play in person. He noted that the staff likes the speed he plays with, but that to earn a spot in the lineup that he would have to show his skills as a Charger. He was offered fairly quickly and both sides took a leap of faith. The first four games, where Bronte is playing as a point-per-game player shows how correct both sides were. His speed with the puck and ability to generate instant offense is essential to the long-term success of this group.

All of that effort was just to get Bronte an offer and a spot on a Division One Team. Fast forward to about the time where school was starting, and the Melbourne native was in Melbourne waiting to get an interview at the US Consulate to get an interview to come over. He was looking at starting in the winter due to the long wait time for his Visa interview at the Consulate because it was closed. However, special exemptions for athletes were allowed, and because of that Tyrone got his interview and was planning to leave the next week for the start of American University. A week later, he had not received his passport with his visa, and the day of his flight was at hand. His family and him went to a processing center where his passport was. He found it in the sprawling shipping complex with some help, and got on the plane to Huntsville that day.

Since coming to Huntsville, Tyrone has come to like the area quite a lot. He complimented the look of the entire city, especially the downtown area around the Von Braun Center, and campus. Bronte stressed throughout this interview how happy and fortunate he considers himself to be a member of the Herd, and how much his parents have done to get him here.

He noted that his parents have not gotten to see him play in person very much, and hopes to be able to play in the Australian Ice Hockey League this summer for his hometown Melbourne Ice. That is really the only place he can train over the summer at home, and the only way for him to get competitive games in. If he can get clarity as to an amateur status of the league from the NCAA he will suit up again for the Ice, pending review from the NCAA.

His brother Declan is a couple years younger than him and has 8 points in 12 games for the Connecticut Chiefs of the EHL. There is an outside chance the two could play together or against each other in a few years. As to that Tyron and Declan playing together, the best chance of that is with the Ice if allowed. Tyrone noted that his mom Fiona would probably not be able to stop herself from crying if the two could play together in front of them. As it is, both of his parents watch when they can on FloHockey, with Tyrone’s dad Paul offering some occasional feedback to him from the other side of the world. Bronte laughed mentioning this, because his parents have limited viewing of hockey. Both his parents and his brother are proud of Tyrone’s ability to maintain that humility on the rollercoaster of a year he has had.

Going forward relating to the Chargers’ projected finish in the WCHA Bronte simply had this to say, “we’re going to surprise some people.”

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: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell

UND Hockey: The good, and what to watch in the NCHC Pod next

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

The University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey team has played to a 3-1 record in the NCHC Pod in Omaha, designed to replicate the secure environment of the NHL bubbles while allowing student-athletes to work on academics as needed and able. So far, once entering the bubble, no team has had games canceled, although the schedule was adjusted to allow Colorado College more time to get to Omaha after their progam dealt with some positive COVID-19 cases recently.

Today, the Fighting Hawks battled the Denver Pioneers for the second time in the bubble and came up short. Carter Savoie put home his fifth marker of the season in just four games as he took a feed from Cole Guttman and beat UND netminder Adam Scheel clean on the glove side. The Fighting Hawks came back from a two goal deficit thanks to goals from Jordan Kawaguchi on the power play, and a rebound banged home by Collin Adams.

This game was similar in intensity to UND’s overtime winner against the Pioneers a few nights ago. In that game Kawaguchi found the back of the net in close during the extra frame. The Fighting Hawks also beat an upstart Miami of Ohio squad to open things up, and toyed with a depeleted Western Michigan side on Sunday without one of the best goalies in the conference, Brandon Bussi.

The great

The game today against the Pioneers combined with the other three shows us a reccuring theme of this team, they are annoying to play against and incredibly persistent. The Fiighting Hawks under Head Coach Brad Berry have been best when banging in rebounds and agitating for space in front of the net. Some goals will be of the more skilled variety, like freshman wunderkind defender Jake Sanderson’s snipe on the power play against the Pioneers in the UND win. On that play though, look at the front of the net. Jasper Weatherby screened Magnus Chrona and made that snipe easier to pull off. This team relies on net front presence and rebounds to win games. Also, on its back end, Sanderson and Tyler Kleven, both high end Senators prospects, look to have all the tools needed to suceed as Fighting Hawks before making their ways north with fellow Senators’ prospect Shane Pinto and Jacob Bernard-Docker to play with program alum Christian Wolanin. Both have shown speed, skill, and physicality in their three games in the pod. Unfortunayely for the Fighting Hawks, they are without them for the duration of the pod as both are trying to make the World Juniors Squad for Team USA.

In addition, this team has two goaltenders ready to play in the AHL now and earn NHL time soon after in Peter Thome and Adam Scheel. Both have their strengths and areas to improve. Scheel’s stick work and ability to not over expose himself on plays are key traits for anyone to have, and we think he will earn a pro deal when he leaves campus. Thome, a Blue Jackets’ prospect, has sterling rebound control and has improved at limiting exposure, he also gets side to side a bit faster than Scheel, but again both can play pro hockey now, and any difference between goalies with a small sample size would be not wise to over analyze.

Do not forget the returners to this team either. Jasper Weatherby is a first-line center at this level playing on the third line with second line power play time. On any other program’s roster outside of the top five schools in the country, Weatherby is one of the most talked about players. Here, the Sharks’ prospect swims under the radar as he continues his quiet physical game disrupting goalies’ vision and playing key minutes.

This team has had so many good things in its first four games, that we went with things that stood out to us. Leave some thoughts if you want to in the comments here, or on our twitter page. Follow us at SeamoreSports.

Things to keep an eye on

Again, we are four games into this season, and the Fighting Hawks have three wins to their name. Anything said herein are simply some things we have noticed that we will watch going forward that could merit concern if they become trends.

First off, in the loss today, two of Denver’s three goals came off power plays, and not even power plays resulting from denying goals, but from an after the whistle slash by Gabe Bast, and a five minute major for checking from behind from Brendan Budy. The Fighting Hawks project as one of the best teams in the country at full and even strength, giving players like Carter Savoie time and space on the power play can mitigate this team’s biggest strength without much effort.

Second, without Sanderson and Kleven, Josh Rieger and Cooper More will have to step into some big moments early. Rieger has experience at this level, but will eat up a lot more ice time, and More is a freshman still learning the next level. Both have looked good, and both will need to help fill the gap left by Sanderson and Kleven. With that said, the Fighting Hawks are one of the deepest teams in the country at every position and Rieger and Moore, like Weatherby would probably have bigger roles elsewhere right now, so we expect them to be more than capable of holding up their end.

This team next takes the ice Thursday evening against the last team to win a National Championship, the always tough to play Bulldogs of Minnesota Duluth. We will learn a lot about how this team deals with adversity coming off its first loss of the season, and what to expect going forward in the next few games of the Pod. This team has a lot of talent and potential, and yet still has a lot to prove moving forward.

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 UND Athletics, 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: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell