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.

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The Colonials’ General: Nick Prkusic

(Photo Credit: Justin Berl-RMU Athletics)

Nick Prkusic is the captain of the Robert Morris Colonials. As a leader of this team, he is responsible for helping propel the Colonials to their first national ranking since the 2014-2015 campaign. The St. Albert, Alberta Native has done his part, contributing at or near a point-per-game pace. As first year Assistant Coach, Mike Corbett said of Prkusic, ” he’s got every club in the bag.”

This means that Nick can play anywhere in the lineup, and in any capacity needed. This is a great thing to have in a captain for a younger team. despite the team playing like veterans, they only have three seniors, of which Prkusic is one of them. Due to the pandemic, he has two options following the season, graduate and leave, or come back for one more year .

At the present moment, to his credit, Nick is only focused on this year, despite being a very worthy candidate for an NHL contract as an undrafted free agent. No NHL teams have talked to him as of yet, and given his pace and ability to mentor younger teammates, he would fit with any team in need of a fast skating, big, power forward who models his game after Sean Couturier which is all of them. Like the Flyers Center, Prkusic uses his big frame to help establish himself in the offensive end, and in his own end he is one of the more defensively responsible centers in the league. Prkusic is six feet, three inches tall, and that size, combined with his skillset helps him fit right in with the heavy and fast game these Colonials are.

Prkusic also is playing well so far for Corbett, and likes what he brings to the group. He describes Corbett as being a player’s coach who is always the steady hand on the bench. When the team scores a goal, Corbett is the one telling them to focus on the next shift. When the Colonials fall behind, Corbett is the one to rally the bench and bring folks together to get things don

This team, lead by Prkusic builds on traits that leaders always like to focus on as a means to an end. One of the biggest traits that meet that definition to Nick is honesty, which is one of many things that sold him on playing for Derek Schooley. The Colonials’ Head Coach was straight forward about his role coming from the Alberta Junior Hockey League to the Colonials and what he would need to do that would make him better. So far, Prkusic has hit every mark on his journey to help this team make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in almost the past decade.

One of the biggest areas of honesty for Prkusic is admitting what he is good at, along with areas he wants to improve. Over his time as a Colonial, Nick has only gotten stronger which has fueled other areas of his game. In addition, throughout his career, ever since he made the shift to a skater when he was 12, goal scoring has come naturally for him. Regarding an area to improve, his skating is the biggest thing he knows would help him get further up the ladder to the NHL. As he said, he wants to focus on edge work and acceleration. Prkusic has good straight-line speed once he accelerates, but needs to get there a bit faster. In addition, as a leader he has done a better job this year of staying out of the penalty box. Prkusic mentioned improving on that even more this year.

Away from the ice, this Edmonton Oilers fan lives a pretty calm life, with said calmness being a refuge during the pandemic we are all living through. Prkusic has done a lot for these Colonials, is a strong leader for them as showcased by the play of his line mate, freshman Randy Hernandez, who arguably is in the running for Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Year, combined with his own skills. Schooley and Corbett rely on having strong voices in the locker room. Prkusic is a leader for these Colonials, and although they have a lot still left to whether this season, he is the perfect field general to help them get there.

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: 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.

UAH Outplays Not Outscores Michigan Tech: Now What?

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Today, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville played a lot more complete of a game against the Huskies of Michigan Tech. Like in their last series finale against Lake Superior State, this team went down 2-0, this time on a power play and a long point shot goal. After that, these Chargers reminded us again that the past is not prologue for this group. They fought over the last part of the first period resulting in a Noah Finstrom goal from some hard work in front of the net. His first collegiate coal was the final marker of the game as the Huskies took the finale 2-1.

With that said, these Chargers are more than the box score. While we imagine Head Coach Lance West was not a fan of the result today, the effort he saw from this group definitely was. The second two periods were played pretty evenly for parts, and others had the Chargers controlling play. They did everything but score a goal in the last two periods and the total shot attempts for the night prove it. The Chargers out attempted the Huskies 52-46. With that said, 22 of those salvos were blocked, and 10 went wide. If one only noticed the top line stats, they would not grasp the magnitude of this result for Alabama Huntsville.

Effort, and What Comes Next

Every coach that we have talked to for this team has lead us to one word, effort. That is the singular word by which these Chargers look to rise up the table in the WCHA this year, and prove, once again, that they belong in the Division One Level of Men’s College Hockey. There were many effort plays by Alabama Huntsville today that will not show up in the box score for the amount of momentum and energy brought their way,.

The best example of that effort came from Connor Wood in the second period. After Connor Merkley took a defensive zone penalty for tripping, Wood and Tyrone Bronte lead the penalty kill onto the ice. Bronte won the faceoff and was able to get the puck out of the zone. Next, Connor Wood raced down to the offensive zone and nearly won the puck on a shorthanded chance. His pace forced Eric Gotz of the Huskies to either play him straight up, or take a penalty to prevent a shorthanded chances. Wood earned some four-on-four time for his team instead of facing a power play that had already put one home on them today

Of course UAH fans want their team to win games, as fans of teams in every sport do, all of the time. With that said, these Chargers are building something greater, designed to start a new chapter for this program with happier endings than it has had over the past decade. With that said, remember that with this being a pandemic year, meaning that everyone has the option to have an extra year of eligibility, combined with the culture of this team, what you saw on the ice from this team is a launching pad to something greater in the future. Every day West and his staff preach zero excuses, and care about development. That fact has already paid off in multiple on-ice areas for these Chargers. More importantly, the culture of the team has already taken shape. That is, their mentality. Not many nights over last season did the Chargers get behind and have the belief that they could come back. The new culture, and the buy in of the returners, combined with a recruiting class full of people passed over by most other Division One schools, has already changed that.

As to their next opponent, finally, the Chargers are set to head home to the Von Braun Center and face the Bulldogs of Ferris State next weekend. Despite losing both games, the Bulldogs are more than capable of playing with these Chargers, and are getting back their World Juniors netminder in Logan Stein this week. That should reinforce the defense for them a bit. The Bulldogs are looking to prove their doubters wrong, and we picked them near the bottom of the conference to start the season. They outshot the Falcons of Bowling Green on Friday night despite losing to them 6-1. How Stein plays upon his return coupled with the improvement of a young team that was sitting home during the postseason, like these Chargers, will determine the fate of the Bulldogs.

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 Loses 4-0 in WCHA Opener: The Good, and Improvements Needed

(Photo Credit: LSSU Athletics)

The Chargers of Alabama Huntsville came out today against the Huskies of Michigan Tech, and played a game that had a few good things about it, but left some questions that this team still needs to answer. David Fessenden played well in net for the Chargers, especially in the first period, surviving 9 Huskies’ salvos in the first frame. In the second, Michigan Tech put themselves ahead for good, outshooting UAH 17-5 and scoring three of their goals. The Huskies tacked on an insurance marker in the third to round things out.

The Good

The first period was a defensive effort by this team the way Lance West and Karlis Zirnis would like. The buy in from every Charger was there, and of the nine shots Fessenden faced, really only two or three were high danger chances that Fessenden was able to stop. In addition to this bit of good, we continued to see the speed of this team. Systemically, that is the biggest difference for these Chargers every night. Fundamentally having this team speed kept this game closer longer than it should have been. Despite only having 34 shot attempts, these Chargers showed their system and its ability to stretch out games.

What to improve on

Like fouling at the end of the game in basketball to extend it with hopes of your opponent missing a foul shot, one has to use the time and space given by your trap system to put home some goals. These Chargers, tonight, did not do that. They were outdone in shot attempts by a margin of 26. That will not win you many games in any league on any night. On Michigan Tech’s first goal, they had a sustained shift of more than a minute of zone time leading to the goal by Brian Halonen. The Huskies wore down the Chargers, and he got a tap-home goal Fessenden had no chance to stop. Between condensing the box a little bit to increase the blocked shots, and finding ways to get quicker exits, the coaches are probably looking to tweak how they execute their systems to stand up to these Huskies tomorrow afternoon.

In addition to this simple fact, the Chargers need to not try for stretch passes nearly as much as they did. When they got a stretch through, it was not on the tape of the receiver most times, and it did not go anywhere. These Huskies live to make your life tough when trying to attack them, and this game brought no exception to that rule.

Finally, on offense, this team has to string together shifts from time to time. We cannot recall many instances in this game where the Chargers changed on the fly while holding possession in the Michigan Tech end. Blake Pietila is a superb goaltender all on his own for the Huskies, and is even better because of the system he has in front of him. The more these Huskies score before their opponent can catch up, the harder things get. To get Michigan Tech out of sorts, you have to score first. We saw flashes of the speed we are starting to get used to, but need to see more of it in the finale.

Regardless of the result tomorrow, this team needs to show the get-back it has had in the first four games of the season. Even if they come home from Houghton with no WCHA points, they need to string together some more positives before Ferris State comes to town in a series that could determine who plays either the toughest team in the WCHA, or who makes the postseason tournament if it needs to be shortened due to COVID-19 concerns.

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.

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.

Virtual Misfits in Real Life: How Mitch’s Misfits Cheer During the Pandemic

(Photo Credit: Evan Fuerst)

There are many student sections in college hockey with superb traditions, and dedicated to their teams. All are suffering a lack of in person viewing of the teams they cheer for due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. However, not all student sections are created equal. Mitch’s Misfits, a student run group that follows the Huskies of Michigan Tech is the most disciplined, organized, and concerted with their efforts to cheer for their Huskies.

To give you a brief example of how dedicated this group is, they follow the Huskies all over the country wherever they can. Last year they traveled to the Ralph Engelstad Arena and watched their team play a close game against the Fighting Hawks. Not only did they attend the Ralph, they were the loudest group of fans from start to finish all night long. Their cheers from the upper deck were heard everywhere in tbe building.

In addition to this, there group not only is an official one on campus, but they work to bring more fans from one of the better, more unheralded engineering schools in the country to the game every single night. They provide a model of what it means to be a fan of the entire game of college hockey, while working to get more people in the stands next to you, not just going to the game. Students travel with this group for multi-day excursions when the Huskies play far away. Not many student groups do that with some institutional support.

With all of this background said, we turn back to the current reality the Misfits face, they cannot show up in their own rink and cheer so loud that folks in North Dakota could hear them on some nights. They have had to adapt to the ever changing rules and regulations of this pandemic, and still have some positive thoughts about their hockey team’s opponent this weekend, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville.

Evan Fuerst and Shane Cruthers are two leaders of the Misfits, and quotes below are from both of them.

First, on this weekend’s series against a team many thought would not still be active this year, they said

” I think UAH’s effort to save their program is amazing. It shows that hockey communities can come out of anywhere. The outpouring of fans, former players and college hockey fans alike was amazing to see. We think it shows that college hockey can mean more to a community than just a fun thing to watch. ” The featured picture showcasing the Misfits in this article is from one of their trips to the Von Braun Center. Hopefully, at some point soon, they can make another one there.

Back to the Misfits, given that the vast majority of classes at Michigan Tech are online, they have had to do other things to maintain the wonderful community they have built. For instance ” We were attempting to do a social at our house early in the semester full of socially distanced games. That was later cancelled because of increased covid guidelines which prohibited that plan. We have also hosted watch parties online for our fans to interact with one another while still staying safe.”

With that said, the group still has things to watch for on the ice, that would serve as a quick heads up to fans of the Chargers and other WCHA opponents.

As they said, “Carson Bantle has been one of my favorite players to watch in the first few games of the season. He has shown to be a key offensive contributor and is also very physical on the ice. A lot of us think he will blossom into a key contributor all over the ice, and it shows with Arizona’s draft choice of him.”

Finally, while the group hopes to be able to travel at some point in the year, due to ever changing regulations amidst a global pandemic, they know that may not happen this year. With that said they do hope things improve enough to hold ” a group watch party if that is allowed by the school, as we normally do for the teams road games. We would like to set up some pond hockey games with all those from the organization to get out and enjoy the winter season.”

The Misfits, like all of us, are dealing with this pandemic and new regulations as best they can do. Also like us, they hope that soon, Houghton and every other city with a college hockey team in it, can welcome back fans at capacity. Until then, the Misfits are doing what they can to bring together Huskies over Michigan Tech Hockey in the safest way possible.

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Atlantic Hockey-Take Heed, the Colonials Are Coming

Back in November, when the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville took on the Colonials of Robert Morris, a lot of parallels in terms of physicality and grit showed through in that opening series. While the Chargers frustrated Robert Morris a bit with their speed, the Colonials played sound defensively and drew a litany of infractions from a young team.

Why?

The Colonials seem to be able to score with consistency this year. In addition, given their location they have played some tough non conference opponents this year, first among them being the Falcons of Bowling Green. In a game that they had no business being in, they lead the top ten Falcons late into the third period.

As Colonials’ Head Coach Derek Schooley said of that affair, “I loved our game for 55 minutes, but unfortunately 55 isn’t 60.  We got away from what was working for us for five minutes, and a very skilled team made us pay. I thought we won the battle at 5-on-5, but they won it on special teams and that ended up being the difference. I’m proud of the way we played for the most part, and there’s some real positives to take away from it for us, but we needed to close that game out. It’s about playing smart and playing a mature game and at times we got away from that.”

With that small detail, let’s move back to this team in Atlantic Hockey. For anyone to challenge the back-to-back defending champions in AIC, they need to play a similar game relying on good goaltending, quick scoring in bunches, and consistent defense. These Colonials have all of that as their 4-1 conference record shows.

As Ed Trefzger, RIT play-by-play voice and USCHO writer said quite elequently, ” The addition of UConn transfer Jordan Timmons, a Pittsburgh native, has given Robert Morris a potent top line with juniors Timmons, Grant Hebert, and Justin Addamo. And they’re intimidating, with Addamo at 6′-6″, Hebert at 6′-3″. and Timmons at 6 feet even. That’s a pretty big forward line at any level and especially in Atlantic Hockey.”

This line did well against UAH, and has continued to improve as the year has gone on. For immediate offense, defense, and physicality, one can start with this line. Should they continue to score in bunches, the NHL could be the future home of many of these talented players. In addition, the depth of the Colonials does a superb job at allowing their stars, like their first line, to be themselves a bit easier by not forcing scoring looks.

In addition, following the Bowling Green tough effort, these Colonials knocked off a fast Niagara side 6-1. While the Colonials have a more well rounded team, Niagara plays a very fast game and likes to get on the board early and defend. Today, after freshman Noah West played a strong start to the game in net, the Colonials found their scoring touch in bunches in the second, and poured it on from there. After a tough loss to a nationally ranked team, they came back and dominated time and space against a team that can do a lot without either of those two things.

Why does Robert Morris matter?

Well, given the subjective nature of the tournament this year, and its selection, how they have played against Bowling Green gives credence to, under the right setup, Atlantic Hockey maybe earning two or more bids this season because of the dearth of teams (only four) playing in the ECAC, among other things. Also, this is a veteran team that has not seemed to waver all year or play beyond their skates at all. Schooley has all of them on the same page and ready to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.

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Previewing the Michigan Tech Series: A Quick Glance Beyond the Box Score

This weekend, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville head north to Houghton Michigan to take on the Huskies of Michigan Tech. Head Coach Joe Shawhan’s team is one similar to Tech teams past. They defend really well, make you go through them to win, and get great goaltending. Blake Pietila, is looking to earn the full time job, but former Charger Mark Sinclair hopes to earn some of the net back. So far, from watching both play, Pietila has been markedly better, but Sinclair has a veteran pedigree and the ability to keep his team in games despite long stretches of being outshot, as Chargers fans would be the first to let you know.

One wrinkle these Huskies do have is their addition of RPI center Tristian Ashbrook. He has not been on a campus this year to practice with anyone because his now former school has been all remote, and he has had to train elsewhere. Shawhan mentioned that his conditioning is good so far, and that Huskies fans could see him take on the Chargers this weekend.

What does he bring to Houghton?

Simply the thing that this program has been in perpetual need of, goal scoring ability. Ashbrook’s speed and desire to camp out in the dangerous areas are a true addition to a Huskies team already plenty skilled at puck possesion and gap control.

How players like Coyotes’ draft pick Carson Bantle match up against the speed of the Chargers is what we will be watching for this weekend. The Huskies, on paper, have the better pedigree, but also have never faced a vast portion of this team. Of the returners, all of them have taken some step to get better, head among them being Bauer Neudecker, The speedy winger has helped the first line of the Chargers drive play forward, and has already put home two goals in four games to start this campaign. In addition, the team play of this group makes them much harder to defend than last year’s iteration of these Chargers. How Shawhan deploys his lines against this team will be an indication of how good he thinks each line is to some degree. For instance, if Bantle’s line draws Bronte’s line, then it will be clear that Shawhan thinks Bantle and company can shutdown the speed of Bronte and his wingers to turn play the other way. Deployment is a good test to see how coaches view their team, not just line chart locations.

A good show of improvement at the individual level is Neudecker’s work. Last year in 31 games played did not find the back of the net. In addition, playing on the line centered by Tyrone Bronte has given him the benefit of not being the fastest player on the ice for the Chargers. The biggest issue that the two opponents of UAH have faced in defending this team is dealing with its speed. That is the one area that the Chargers have an advantage on paper against this Michigan Tech side.

With that said, the Huskies have scored in waves this year when they have found twine and, like the Chargers tend to score by committee. For offense this is a four line team that the Chargers will face with defenders who can stay at home and keep the play going. On defense, these Chargers, to some degree or another know Sinclair’s tendencies as the returners have all practiced with him. Regarding Pietila, he has been the main person for these Huskies so far. When he is dialed in behind this defense, most teams in college hockey, regardless of their station will have to up their game to score. Expect no different for these Chargers. Reflexes are his best skill, and these Chargers will have to find ways to continue their improvement in net-front presence goals to generate more rebound looks.

Finally, if these Huskies can knock off a strong Bemidji State team, and an even better Minnesota State Mankato squad, then they are not to be taken lightly. This is a big series for these Chargers to set the tone for their final season in this WCHA. How they will be remembered in this conference starts with what they do this weekend. Their final chance to rise above their station and shock some people over these next few months all begins in Houghton.

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