UAH Hockey: One game season time-some thoughts

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

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

Lucas Bahn is a leader on this team

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

Hit the net more

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

Delete the past

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

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Lucas Bahn: Thankful and growing

Photo credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Alabama Huntsville defender, and Hendersonville, Tennessee native Lucas Bahn, and first line center Tyrone Bronte both have something in common about how they found the game of hockey. Despite living on opposite sides of the world growing up, both started off playing roller hockey. Bahn played at a rink about ten minutes from his childhood home, and grew up playing the game supported by an incredibly supportive family. Originally, Bahn was set to head to the University of New Hampshire, but he ended up coming to Alabama Huntsville.

Former Alabama Huntsville Head Coach Mike Corbett, who brought Bahn to Huntsville did a superb job of summing up what Lucas and his family bring to Alabama Huntsville.

“His mom and dad were supporters from day one, they are A1 people, Lucas wanted to be a part of our program, Lucas had the opportunity to be a part of another program and he didn’t want to.”

Further expanding on his comments about Lucas’ family, Corbett said that, “his parents are rockstars.”

To his family Lucas is thankful for all of them, saying “my family means everything to me, they’ve helped me in more ways than they could ever know.”

Lucas can do everything well for this team, and is their most consistent defender. Other than score a goal this season, Bahn has been a part of most of the key minutes that the Chargers have had in each game.

Lucas explained why he chose to stay at UAH after the reinstatement of the program this summer, saying “I decided to stay because I really enjoyed my first year.. and its close to home for me. I knew Westy (Head Coach Lance West) was coming back. I thought I would have a good opportunity to play a lot “

As his current Associate Head Coach Karlis Zirnis says of what Bahn brings, and his coachability that it is, “very easy to coach Lucas. Lucas is a very dynamic skater and uses his agility to his advantage. Lucas is a very smart player and takes coaching very well. Also Lucas is very good teammate with helping out anyway he can.” Bahn credits Zirnis for helping him become a better two way defender. This year, Bahn is making more cerebral plays on the defensive end, and is a part of why the Chargers have improved in playing team defense.

His stats and improvement from his first year to now show that. He already has more assists this year than last year, in 14 less games. In addition, a lot of what he brings is beyond the box score. His mentorship has helped players like Josh Martin integrate into the group faster, as the two have played well together, and both have a natural chemistry with one another on the ice. When Lucas plays with Dayne Finnson, he is the primary setup man for that pair, as Finnson’s slap shot is one of the harder ones on the team. On the power play, Lucas is the quarterback, and is a big reason behind the improvement in UAH’s power play from last year to this season.

Every game, Bahn typically wins multiple battles on effort alone, and several more due to his high hockey intelligence. Bahn is an incredibly cerebral player, and is often the reason why a goal is saved or created when he is on the ice. His mentorship of the freshmen that this team has is already paying off, with players like Josh Corrow seeing a more consistent amount of minutes as the year has progressed. As this program looks to build up from the foundation of this season, Bahn will have a role in adding to the foundation he is building this year. If offered the chance when his time comes, he would consider staying an extra year to use the extra year of eligibility offered to all winter sport student-athletes due to the pandemic-marred season that is happening. When you look at the growth of the program from game one against Robert Morris to where they are now in terms of playing more consistent each night, Bahn’s influence is a big part of that development.

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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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.

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Alabama Huntsville and Atlantic Hockey: Four Reasons This Match Makes Sense

The Chargers of Alabama Huntsville have already shown massive on and off ice improvement from years past to start the season. Today, they lost a 3-2 tough game against the Lakers of Lake Superior State that included the Chargers playing from behind while showing speed and dominance for the middle third of the game. Now, this team is on its way to Ferris State to play the Bulldogs to close out the 2019 portion of their schedule.

This article is about the long run, and some simple commentary on the future of the Chargers barring a change of heart from the CCHA. Based on what we know, the other conference that they have been working on trying to get to is the Atlantic Hockey Association which make some sense for the Chargers going forward.

Here are some reasons why:

System Matters

Stylistically, after seeing AIC and Air Force knock off the number one seed in the last two Regionals, we have noted that Atlantic Hockey typically plays the type of game the Chargers are now playing. Watching a lot of it in that time confirms that as well. When AIC won their tournament game, they did not do so with flash, but grit and determination. The Yellow Jackets got key turnovers at the right times, and played a grinding game to win. This Charger team, with its speed infusion over the summer, combined with its defense corps stocked with skill and physicallity reminds us a bit of that AIC team.

Location Matters

When the Chargers ventured north to play Robert Morris, they traveled roughly about three hours less by bus to play the Colonials than they did to play the Lakers. That is six hours round trip of savings for the school, and it allows the Chargers to play split schedules which are a hallmark of Atlantic Hockey (play two teams in two days per weekend). For their opponents, Huntsville is anywhere from a 10-15 hour drive but it would be a quick flight to Nashville and a drive, or given the times we live in, the longest bus trip most of them would need to make.

Attendance Matters

Last year, on an average attendance basis, the Chargers did better than eight of their potential future conference mates despite winning only two games. Hockey demand in Huntsville is real, as evidenced by the fact that ,well, the Chargers still are an active program. The town and those that love what Charger Hockey means stepped up and mobilized in an unprecedented way to help this team, and during the first season with no venue capacity restrictions, we think the Chargers will be near the top of the league.

The Advisory Board

The Advisory Board has been the biggest Revelation to this program, and we are glad that the board and school now have 17 million dollars over the next decade guaranteed to help this program compete at the level it needs to win. In addition, the public show of support from the school in comitting to back this program in its goals to get into a new conference means a lot for Atlantic Hockey given the growing institutional support for each of its schools.

Going forward, this board is the biggest difference for Huntsville and any conference they end up joining. Not only do you get a school that works hand-in-glove with NASA, and one with a strong tradition of excellence they are trying to bring back, you get the board. Because of the board, you get a group of advocates working to better market a team which should in turn help the conference out. Given that the President of the Nashville Predators is a part of this board, it is not at all outlandish to see an Atlantic Hockey Showcase at Bridgestone Arena, or a yearly holiday tournament that the Chargers host. This board is on the front lines of hockey in the southeast, representing the only Division One Team there, and has every incentive to grow Atlantic Hockey along with UAH Hockey.

The Chargers still have work to do to get into a conference, a much needed part of their plan to get back to the mountaintop of this game, and we think based on location, style, attendance, and the board that Atlantic Hockey makes the most sense. Feel free to follow us on Twitter @SeamoreSports and tweet some other reasons Atlantic Hockey makes sense as the new home for Charger Hockey.

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 Charger 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.