UND Men’s Hockey’s conflicting views on major penalties: Some thoughts

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Today, the NCHC suspended University of North Dakota Forward Grant Mismash for strolling through the creae of Denver’s Magnus Chrona and shocking him with an elbow. Chrona took the elbow to his chest and fell, smacking his head against the ice, and leaving the game after. Mismash was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct for charging him.

Was that deserved? Many people outside of the program may think so, but UND Men’s Hockey Head Coach Brad Berry begs to differ, saying ” we know every five-minute major goes through a review process… I got a call today that said he was suspended for the extra game. Our league does an outstanding job as far as officiating and the review process. They deemed it a one-game suspension. I guess I would say we here have a difference of opinion, but at the end of the day, the league makes the call and we deal with it and move forward. It is what it is”

Compare that Brad Berry bit of passive aggressive thought to what he said when Jimmy Schuldt of St. Cloud State nearly two years ago injured Grant Mismash through a knee on knee contact that official Todd Anderson thought, at the time, was a clean hit. Arguably both should have been reviewed, but Schuldt’s hit was not. Berry said, “i’m very, very, disappointed, …And again, I’m not going to get in any trouble here by making a comment, but that was a knee-on-knee that should have been reviewed. We have a protocol in place and it wasn’t reviewed and I’m very disappointed in that. It’s not the result of the game that I’m alluding to. It’s one of those things where you know where anything is 50/50 like that at that time in the game has got to get reviewed, and we have that in our protocol.”

Categorically speaking, the suspension Grant Mismash received today arguably was fair. You do not causally saunter through the blue paint and elbow a goaltender. That is a no in this sport at any level, and Mismash is paying for that. Magnus Chrona did not at all dive, and he looked concussed on the play and could miss time for a Pioneers team. The puck was no where near Chrona when the contact happened, and there was no reason for Mismash to skate in the blue paint, that close to him, during that instance in the game. We remember covering that night against St. Cloud State when Mismash got injured that collision. As noted, fans and Berry were incensed, and rightly so given the player they lost for the rest of the year. Chrona is at least at that level of importance for the Pioneers, if not more given his role as the starting netminder. The overhead view is pretty clear and shows the space Mismash had to try and adjust before going into Chrona.

What Grant Mismash did to him was the functional equivalent of a defensive lineman getting to Kurt Cousins and sacking him three seconds after he throws the football downfield. There is no functional reason for that, or for what Grant did. He is a good player in his own right and playing for an NHL contract with the Nashville Predators. That play certainly did not help his case, which was building in the positive direction given his scoring touch this season, but the stark disparity in Berry’s tone between today, and nearly two years ago is reflective of how some Fighting Hawks fans see this disparity. To Berry and them, we would concede that the Schuldt hit on Mismash was worthy of a review, which it should have had. With that said, we do not play sports in any condition that is theoretical, and UND fans were right to demand a review that they did not get two years ago.

Where we draw the line is the disparity. Advocating for transparency, and for your player to pay attention to where he is on the ice would have been the straight up way to adress the suspension today, if Mismash skates through he paint and doesn’t elbow Chrona, maybe Magnus moves up on him a bit like most goalies to give their defense a little more room, but no elbows to the chest plate occur, or potential concussions on that instance. You could even make the argument that given what he served in the game, and when the penalty happened, no suspension was warranted, but you understood the penalty. Berry was right to be incensed at the NCHC for their lack of transparency on the choice to not review the Schuldt hit on Mismash on the ice that evening, and is not correct in his response to Mismash’s suspension. Knee-on-knee contact and goaltender interference via charging through the blue paint with a puck no where near it both have no place in this sport.

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Alabama Huntsville leads the country on the power play: Here’s why

Photo Credit: LSSU Athletics

While it is true that the Chargers’ Hockey team has played in only eight games, it is also true that Alabama Huntsville’s power play, heading into another WCHA showdown against Northern Michigan, is statistically the best in the nation, clocking in at 29.6 percent. This team has been made over from top to bottom, and its biggest improvement to date is on the power play. For context, through eight games last year this team had a power play clip of 8.3 percent.

Why is this team doing better on the power play this year?

Well, the top two lines of UAH, lead by Tyrone Bronte are most commonly featured on the power play for Lance West’s team.

With that and Bronte’s speed you get some different looks from this UAH team, some improvement was expected, but a 21 percent jump over an equal amount of games not many people around the country would have expected, outside of,well, the Chargers of course. a player who had no offers until June to play Division One Hockey is leading the positive effort for this team. His speed draws attention, and provides openings for whomever else is on the ice.

Bronte is the leading scorer for this Chargers side on the power play putting up all of his goals on it. More than that, his ability to direct traffic and set his teammates up on the power play cannot be understated. Last year, the Chargers did not have a person with the speed of Bronte, but there’s also more that goes into this power play worthy of menton.

First off, Lucas Bahn is one of the leaders in defense for this team. Three of his four points have come on the power play through making strong passes and leading a power play unit of his own. He is a cerebral player capable of making the needed pass at any time, and one that will continue to get better over the next few years. Do not forget about Dayne Finnson as well. All of his points have come with an extra skater on the ice. He possesses a rocket shot for this team, as fans saw when he won the game in overtime against Ferris State. He also uses that shot to create offense elsewhere.

In addition, this team all has a role in its power play sucess through its effort. As Karlis Zirnis notes on his penalty kill, the goal is to outwork the power play, and arguably the power play has the same basic role, all centered around effort. That is the biggest common variable around how this team has changed its narritive and redefined what it can be, effort.

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UND Hockey: What comes next?

Phtoto Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Tonight, the Fighting Hawks earned a victory over the Pioneers of Denver a mere 24 hours after losing to them 4-1. What does this mean for the team’s fortunes the rest of the year? Well these are three things we came away from the series noticing.

Penalties, so many penalties

These two games have shown us one thing despite the results. The Fighting Hawks are incredibly overaggressive as a team most times, and are subject to tougher officiating more than most. The team took multiple unneeded penalties throughout this weekend, and was able to squeak out a victory over the Pioneers because of how it killed the penalties it took. With that said, do keep in mind that the postseason will feature 15 other capable teams on the power play, and all will have a chance to potentially end UND’s season in some form or fashion.

Goalie concerns

Adam Scheel played superb in the series finale, and should every game he plays in resemble it, than UND will win a lot of games this year. With that said, you cannot throw out the season opener, or multiple other close ones that Scheel has had this year. The NCAA Tournament has teams that live for one thing, depositing rebounds in their opponent’s net. On Saturday, multiple reboundds off the equipment of Scheel ended up in the back of Scheel’s on looks Scheel should have swatted away better. Rebound control has been a consistent concern for him, and it is the thing that, in our eyes, limits his celling at the next level. Scheel will not win the Mike Richter Award, but in order to win the National Championship with UND, he needs to lmit second chances a bit better than the first game in this series showed he could do. Part of this can be acheived through UND simply playing Peter Thome a few more nights the rest of the way. Resting Scheel will help him in the postseason, and let him get more time to study video and be ready to lead this group in the postseason.

Turnovers are still too high

UND seems to have a consistent proclivity to make home-run passes and pay for them, or get dispossesed at their own blue line on nights that goaltending does not stand on its head. The Fighting Hawks are a team built to wear others out, and turned the puck over far too much against Denver for anyone’s liking. When they give the puck up, fast teams like Denver take advantage of this fact and score transition goals in bunches to provide a lot of the scoring against UND.

All of this is to say, UND is a really good team, but one with flaws that need to be looked at to prevent the NCHC’s number one representative from losing in the first round in the last three years that the tournament has been held.

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UND-Denver: Three things to watch

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Tonight, the Fighting Hawks take on the Pioneers in a battle of two teams going in different directions.

UND is fighting for the Penrose Cup to stay in Grand Forks against the Huskies of St. Cloud State, while Denver is fighting to get into consideration for an at large selection. In the NCHC Pod, when these teams played, skill was on top display as Carter Savoie and Riese Gaber seemed to do battle to provide the best highlights in the Pod.

For Denver, the Pioneers have all of the skill they have had in years past. The fact that Carter Savoie took as long as he did to get drafted (fourth round by Edmonton) is somewhat shocking given how he has played for this team. Players that played in the USHL with worse statistics for his same player profile were taken ahead of him. He is a rookie of the year candidate and has 13 points in 12 games so far. The forward group of this team has what they need to go far, the back end is reeling from the departure of Ian Mitchell. Magnus Chrona is still the main player in net, and for the Pioneers to turn things around, he has to be their best defender on some nights and take a few games they did not deserve.

With that intro out of the way, here are three things to watch in the series.

Where the penalties happen

With UND playing Denver, we expect plenty of penalties to happen. The Fighting Hawks have a proclivity for taking offensive zone penalties due to their over aggressive tendencies on the forecheck. For a team that controls possession as much as UND does, they should not have to do too much to maintain it, and offensive zone penalties, with the team they are facing tonight and tomorrow are an invitation for more goals scored by the Pioneers. Carter Savoie, Bobby Brink, and the rest of Denver does not need any more time and space, and the penalty kill numbers of UND, while great, will suffer if this trend continues. For the Pioneers, if you see a lot of penalties taken in their own end that is indicative of how well UND is holding the puck. The longer teams cycle on offense, the more defensive penalties are taken. The Fighting Hawks have turned drawing penalties on those long shifts into an art form, and deserve accolades for that.

Who Scores First

If the Fighting Hawks score first, good luck coming back. This statement applies to any team they will face this season. Brad Berry’s team is uniquely capable of holding possession against most teams in this game for stretches’ of time that go for perceived eternities. The teams with the best success against UND in the past few seasons are ones that eschew possession metrics when they play the Fighting Hawks. That is, they get into the zone fast, and score off the rush. They take what the defense gives them and capitalize on mistakes. If the Fighting Hawks have one potential weakness its the offensive nature of the defense corps. This team has offensive defenders on every pair capable of joining the rush. They also have a tendancy to go for stretch passes in a way that often comes back to harm them. If Denver scores first, they can force UND to make more of those mistakes via necessity. If not, their task becomes tougher.

Who wins the turnover battle

This fact will determine who wins the game more than shots on net. That is, how many turnovers each team gives up, and what is done with each of them ultimately impacts the final score more than saves made. By this, i reference the previous two categories. If Denver can catch the defenders of UND a bit off guard, and steal a pass or two through the neutral zone more than UND can, they will get a few more grade-a looks on Adam Scheel and likely bury a couple of them. If , on the other hand, Denver tries something remotely similar and gets away from being cohesive, than the veteran Fighting Hawks will take control of this one, and pretty early.

All of these facts, beyond the top line statistics will play a key role in determining how this series goes. If UND can get some points, they will remind the nation of their status in the NCHC. If Denver surprises some folks this weekend, they can show that the Pioneers belong back in the national conversation.

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The WCHA will get at least three teams into the NCAA Tournament: Here’s why

The WCHA, in its final season in its current form, and most likely its final season on the men’s side of things, is having themselves a superb year. Alabama Huntsville is playing the underdog role with 13 freshmen and dramatically improved results from returning players. Ferris State has a World Juniors Champion . Bowling Green is one of the most complete teams in the country with multiple stars on it. Lake Superior State has one of of the top goalies in the country in Mareks Mitens leading a veteran team. Also, Michigan Tech has one of the best goalies in the country, a really tough system to scheme against, and is in a good spot as well. Minnesota State still is in pole position for the McNaughton Cup with its sterling start to its WCHA season despite losing a lot of scoring up front.

All of the top six teams in this league are playing good enough hockey, that the “eye test” should actually benefit this league this year without normal factors of consideration being used. In its final year, the WCHA may have more influence over the final field than realized.

Why write about this?

Well, the WCHA is being looked on by some as an after thought. Every year, like Atlantic Hockey, it seems like the leagues is talked about as an afterthought. Given that the ECAC only has four teams participating this year, and both independents do not look to be candidates for an at large bids, the other five conferences will get to compete for some extra at-large spots.

In addition, defensively, the WCHA is a league built on being able to play close games, like those which are commonplace in postseason hockey. Six teams are within the top 22 of fewest goals allowed, and all of those teams, arguably are fighting for a postseason spot in the league. Given the non-use of the pairwise, all of these teams still have some claim to being under consideration, as long as they finish at .500 or better of course. That style plays better in the postseason when games are typically tight checking, low scoring affairs throughout.

Not many leagues play consistently defensive hockey as well as the WCHA has. Given its top goaltenders, and opportunistic offense, they, like Atlantic Hockey, will have more teams representing them in the NCAA Tournament this year, and deservedly so.

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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/

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UAH Hockey: Read beyond the shots on net conceded

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography )

Last week, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville got outshot 42-18 and won the series finale against Ferris State 2-0. While the difference is obviously concerning, there were some positives out of that game to take into the next weekend against Northern Michigan at the Von Braun Center.

First off, we will stipulate that no team wants to give up that many shots in the game. ever. Teams usually give up that difference in a big defeat.

What went right on Saturday?

Well, as we know, Karlis Zirnis runs the penalty kill in his role as an Associate Head Coach for the Chargers. In addition, he works with the team through breaking down video for them, with advice. While they conceded no power play goals on the weekend, the coaching staff, Karlis, and most fans at the Von Braun Center, did scout the Bulldogs well enough to know that netminder David Fessenden faced too many grade-a looks on Friday night. Through adjustments made through the staff’s continuous video work, UAH’s penalty killers actually did even better on Saturday given the tough circumstances they faced.

The team took penalties nearly back-to-back at least once, and had to adjust. Fessenden did see more shots on Saturday, but more than a few of them from Ferris State were not grade-a looks. The Bulldogs, to win, had to score more long looks against a compact team with speed. They were unable to do so. On both nights, UAH did a good enough job boxing out, for the most part, and working together cohesively to get the puck going away from their own end.

A simple shots on net count did not do that series justice, and does not showcase where this team is. While they are still getting outshot on most nights, the differences are a bit less, and the team’s ability to clear second and third looks has dramatically increased their ability to have sucess in the long run.

Take a look at the Chargers’ next scheduled opponent, Northern Michigan. Despite losing 5-1 to a strong Bowling Green team, they had one more shot attempt than the Falcons did. In addition, they forced Eric Dop to make 35 saves off 52 shot attempts. If you saw shots on net first, you could get a misleading thought on the game.

The same is true for these Chargers, credit the staff, lead by Zirnis, for working to adjust where shots on net where being allowed more than the amount. This staff knows what David Fessenden brings for them in net, and is crafting a system to match. To compare this correctly we could look to football. What the Chargers are doing in making this system is like what a team does to build an offense around their quarterback. Of course the underlying numbers need to be better, but they do not tell the whole story. What these Chargers do with this reality ultimately will.

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UND Men’s Hockey: Three minor concerns after Colorado College Sweep

The Fighting Hawks of North Dakota are a bit faster than they were last year with players like Riese Gaber coming in right away and scoring goals in bunches. They are a little bigger, with Jasper Weatherby playing the role of shutdown center, and strong in net with Peter Thome and Adam Scheel backing things up quite well for the most part.

With all of that said, the Tigers of Colorado College added to the opus of how to skate with UND, before UND’s next series, it is a good time to look at some nagging areas of concern this team has to have. Yes, they are one of the best in the country, but every team has some flaws to it, and these are flaws not to bar UND from the NCAA Tournament which they will surely make, but flaws that will prevent them from winning many games in it. These are all things we have been watching for and will continue to note.

The undisciplined penalties

This team has one of the best penalty kills in the country, yet relies on it far too much to win games. Routinely some of the penalties this team takes are not due to positioning, or preventing scoring chances, but often meager stick infractions in their offensive zone or the neutral zone. This penalty kill will not keep up its pace all year, and as Ben Copeland showed last night, eventually power plays will convert against you. For this team to win in the NCAA Tournament, a feet not done since 2016, it has to eliminate at least half of the penalties it is taking

The home run passes

UND has talented defenders, some of the best in this game. Every pair has an Ottwa Senators prospect on it, and every pair from time to time tries to make home-run passes through the neutral zone for breakways, and they often become turnovers the other way. Teams will not beat UND grinding them in their own zone, it rarely happens any more and that is a testament to the strong recruiting of its leader, Brad Berry. Teams often have sucess against UND because they have gotten good at being opportunistic, and diagonal home run passes through the neutral zone that set up easy turnovers and a rush the other way will not bring home anything other than disapointment.

Goalie usage

We have always appreciated both Peter Thome and Adam Scheel’s games. To win this season, both of them have to play some games, and we are concerned that Scheel will be overused. If teams with lesser tandems can deploy their goalies more evenly, this one can as well. It is not the tradition of UND to use this, but given the quickly rescheduled games, and the potential for three or four games in some weeks, using the tandem you have will prevent the postseason starter from getting too tired.

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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“He cares so much”, learn how RMU’s Mike Corbett developed his coaching philosophy from one of the game’s great coaches.

(Photo Credit: Justin Berl/RMU Athletics(

Mike Corbett is one of the most honest people we have ever interviewed in the game of college hockey. The former Alabama Huntsville Head Coach was up front about his record, and has no hard feelings towards anyone with how his time leading the program ended. He was Derek Schooley’s first choice for the assistant coach role when it opened, and the two worked together to make it a reality. Corbett had other options, but it was evident that the Robert Morris role made the most sense for him now, and it has paid dividends for the team because the Colonials are in first place in the Atlantic Hockey Conference, nationally ranked, and in position for an at large selection in the NCAA Tournament this spring.

Corbett shared with us a philosophy that guides how he operates, and one that is refreshing to hear on this and the rest of his interactions in life. He simply notes that “business is one thing, and friendship is another.” This philosophy has allowed Corbett to have a long career as a very successful assistant coach for the Air Force Academy, and got him back behind the bench with Robert Morris after leaving his Head Coach role with Alabama Huntsville.

That loyalty to players that Corbett has comes from a source many college hockey fans would know. Frank Serratore, the head coach at Air Force gave Corbett a chance to play for him when he was at Denver. As Corbett said, Frank took a chance on letting him play with the Pioneers as Corbett came to college as a 20 year old with a young son, and of that opportunity he said, “I could never repay him enough.”   

That was not at all the end of Corbett and Serratore’s time together, as a few years later, Corbett would end up working with Frank at the Air Force Academy for the next decade as an assistant. To this day, through the ups and downs of Corbett’s coaching career, and his life, he notes that Frank always has time to chat with him, and Corbett was effusive of the impact Frank has had on his life.

One of many things Frank did helped Corbett feel more confident as an assistant, and gave Mike a guide for his own choices later on as a coach. That is, Serratore let Corbett do a lot of things in the coaching world that assistants do not typically get the chance to do. In his time at the Air Force Academy, Frank has always been effusive of the honor of being the coach of Cadet-Athletes, and his leadership style empowers them, and all who work with him to have success. Corbett calls Serratore the “ultimate motivator”, and notes the value Frank’s honesty has had on him later on in any of his following roles. When Corbett needs advice, as he did when looking for his next role in the coaching world this summer he looked at two people of his vast network of friends and mentors for advice.

To sum all of the help Corbett has gotten up from Serratore in one quote is tough to do, but he came close by saying that, ” Frank is so great because he cares so much.” It is clear to us that Corbett cares a lot as well.

Back to his time at Robert Morris, Corbett is embracing his role as an assistant and fitting in with the Colonials quite well. He notes the success of a lot of the team, including Nick Prkusic, Randy Hernandez, and others as reasons for this team’s new residence as a nationally ranked side. On the bench for Robert Morris, Mike handles a lot of things, including running the penalty kill. Arguably the most important thing he does for this team during games is providing levity and a level head to it. That is, when the Colonials score, Corbett will be the one yelling something about playing the next shift hard and keeping the pressure up. When the Colonials are scored upon he is the one imploring his team to keep pushing for the next goal and so on.

Corbett focuses most of his time back on the ice, and loves working with Schooley and the staff at Robert Morris. This team is competing for a national at-large bid in the spring, along with having the pieces to be good for many years, as they only have three seniors, and some may come back due to the extra year of eligibility every student athlete is getting due to the pandemic.

Mike Corbett has learned a lot over his years as a coach, both leading and as an assistant, yet one thing is constant. He will forever have a spot in the wide world of hockey as long as he wants one, because, like his mentor Frank Serratore, Corbett cares so much about his players as whole people, and ones destined to get better both on and off the rink.

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David Fessenden helps UAH gallop to a 2-0 shutout and series sweep of FSU: Now What?

(Photo Credit: UAH Athletics)

When we first chatted with David Fessenden, starting netminder for the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville, he plainly said of what this team could do this year “we are going to prove some people wrong.”

Well, the artist of a 42 save shutout tonight, and his Chargers did just that, putting their stamp on a 2-0 victory over the Bulldogs of Ferris State. In this game, UAH earned their second win, equaling all of last year’s total, and bringing them level (2-2) in WCHA play.

Goal scoring came only in a 1 minute and 23 second stretch in the second period. First, a Tyr Thompson pass found Connor Merkley on a partial breakaway, and he was able to convert against FSU netminder Logan Stein to send the socially distantced crowd at the Von Braun Center into a frenzy. On that play, the Chargers earned a power play chance which they would go on to convert. Dayne Finnson found the stick of emerging star Tyrone Bronte to tip the puck past Stein to provide the final margin of victory.

With that being said, we will note the many good things from this night, and some things a team on track to play one of the most defensively consistent teams in the country in Bemidji State may want to deal with.

The Good

For a team working on finding a new conference home, this weekend served as a wonderful audition to their two potential future homes. The crowd was into both games, the game presentation looked improved thanks in part to the Advisoty Board’s advice , and every element that the Athletics Department could control, from our vantage point, looked well done.

Now to the team on the ice, Fessenden did a lot in this game, the first and third periods each required him to be perfect, and to his credit, he was. Whenever UAH took a penalty, Fessenden seemed to elevate his game even more, along with how he played pucks throughout. His ability to control rebouds took a step forward tonight, as did his defense group’s ability to clear them away. Remember, he was in net for this team going into the third period with a 1-0 lead over since ranked Robert Morris. So far, Fessenden is doing what he can to keep a solid grip on the net.

Looking at the goals, first off the one for Connor Merkley had to feel simply grand. He put home his first point on the season off a nice breakaway setup from Thompson. As to Bronte, he seems to be quietly building a case for WCHA Rookie of the Year with the consistency he is showing. He still has more work to do, but his speed and ability to drive play positively is something this team thrives on. Bronte’s ability to get in between defenders and create his own luck leaves us stupefied that he did not have a Division One offer until Head Coach Lance West gave him one.

What to watch for

These Chargers have, in past seasons, allowed too many shots to make it on net. Tonight Fessenden did have to make 42 saves, but that was off 72 Ferris State attempts. Shots on net suppression was ok relative to shot attempts given up. The Chargers only finished with 36 shot attempts. Unlike last night, Ferris State owned time and space tonight. Every period but the second featured a double-digit shots on net difference between the two teams. To adjust for this will be crucial, as the Beavers of Bemidji State are a more veteran and heavy team to compete with than Ferris State, and they are coming off of their biggest effort of the season with an overtime win against Bowling Green.

Last night, early penalties got the Chargers out of the flow of the game and tonight was no different. Giving up penalties in succession as UAH did is inviting trouble, and luckily their penalty kill survived the weekend unscathed.

Going forward, it is simple for this team, Fessenden has earned the right to be the starter. Tyrone Bronte’s first line is one of the faster in the WCHA, and has had far more grade-a looks than those not following this program would have guessed, and these Chargers are in the business of working to prove people wrong this year. Against Ferris State we saw what this team can do across a range of situations and emotions in-game.

How they build on it against Bemidji State will be the next test for them.

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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