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

Graphic Credit: Total Package Hockey

Photo Credit: Ohio State University Athletics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UAH Hockey 20-21: A foundational season

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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UAH Hockey: One game season time-some thoughts

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

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

Lucas Bahn is a leader on this team

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

Hit the net more

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

Delete the past

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

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Over the season, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville have built a new collective culture with a roster of 14 freshmen, and dedicated returners looking to come back and start a new chapter in the history of this program. As West said of his team’s growth each day they are ” getting more confident.” This group has to face the Lakers of Lake Superior State this weekend on the road to open the first round of the WCHA playoffs. West warns of calling any team in the postseason a “good matchup” and said of the Lakers ,”they’re the number two team in our league this year and finished ahead of a lot of really good hockey teams.”

As a team, their sweep at the hands of Bemidji State gave West and his group a final chance to see what they need to work on in the postseason against a veteran opponent. The Lakers play a similarly strong defensive game with one of the best goaltenders in the country, Mareks Mitens, backstopping them. In their own end, West noted that “we have to be better in our zone defending our zone and their motion.” The Lakers do a lot with their defenders on offense and are good at getting teams out of sort with the amount of motion they bring.

While the Chargers had more than a few opportunities this weekend, they could not score. West and the staff understand that and think the process is still paramount in its importance. For him, the focus is on not scoring in games but the constant focus is on on “continuing to have the right habits in practice.” As this team continues to build its new future this year and beyond, the staff believes goals and success will come from that.

In net, West praised the year David Fessenden has had for the Chargers. Fessenden’s ability to compete for this group means, according to West that ” “It gives your team a mentality that when he’s in there we know we have a chance.” His skill in stopping multiple shots in succession and keeping rebounds to non danger areas are two reasons why the net is his to lose in the postseason.

Finnaly, for this group development is at the forefront given that it has 14 freshmen. Part of the reason goal scoring is where the Chargers have it at is due to the consistently shifting line charts. Out of necessity to see what they have, most Chaargers have not played with their line mates for more than a few games. Despite the season, West noted that he could spend a long time talking about how all of his freshmen have grown their games. They all have grown, and players like Tyrone Bronte, Brian Scoville, Quinn Green, Conor Witherspoon, among so many skilled players in this freshman group have all stood out for what they bring to the Chargers.

Despite the tough task ahead of this group, West is still hopeful for the weekend. The puck drops on game one this Friday at 6:07 PM. If the Chargers can limit their mistakes, and streamline their game towards the net, anything is possible against a very good Lake Superior State team.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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BSU 4 UAH 0: Recap and three thoughts

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

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

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

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

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

What have we learned going into the postseason

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

Here’s some takeaways from today

Take the quick out/make the simple play

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

Speed will bring this program forward

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

Delete the past

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

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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PHOTOS: BSU 2-UAH 0

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

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

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

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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

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

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

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

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

Shot attempt generation

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

Development matters

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

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

Game Management

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

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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

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

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

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

Line Chart for the Chargers from today’s game

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

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

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

Here are some things that stood out on the night

Better (game) management

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

Evaluation season

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

UAH-Bemidji State: What to watch

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Karlis Zirnis has seen the heights of Alabama Huntsville Hockey, and this year, as Associate Head Coach, he has been a part of some of the needed work to get this program back to those heights. Coming into the regular season finale series against a Bemidji State team that is firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble, he knows the importance of these games to the Chargers. This team, despite being locked into the seventh seed in the WCHA has a lot to play for. First off, they are playing to earn some points heading into the postseason where they will be a heavy underdog. After playing one of their better games this season, in a 4-2 loss on Senior Day to the Falcons of Bowling Green, the focus this week is on details. Zirnis said, “For us its just worrying about what we can do,.. we’ve just got to work and make sure we are physical.”

In addition, he noted that a lot of players have shown a lot of improvement from the first practice to now and credited his development for the growth in the team. He praised the growth of rookies Tyrone Bronte up front, and his offensive skills. On defense, he noted the consistent physical play Brian Scoville has brought to the Chargers and how he has grown into his role as a defensive defender capable of playing key minutes. Scoville’s poise has grown throughout the season, and his positioning to lay the big checks he does has constantly developed as Brian has.

For the weekend, Zirnis and the staff are focusing on developing their own game first. When it comes to facing the Beavers, look at how the Chargers can get entry into the neutral zone. Bemidji State is always one of the toughest teams to establish zone presence against, and this weekend projects to be no different. The Chargers have to play a more consistent game in terms of intention. That is, this ever developing group has to have a better sense of puck possession. Zirnis called out the positive effort of senior leader Connor Wood last weekend in leading that possession game.

Wood’s ability to hold the puck for long periods of time was the precursor to the Anton Malmstrom checking from behind major. Over long shifts, players take more penalties to compensate for their needed extra skating. That is how UAH needs to play to get a good result, focus on finding ways to possess the puck as long as possible, and realize what system the Beavers are in, then be able to defend against it, or strike against it while on offense.

This weekend, the Chargers are looking to win, of course. They are also looking to come into the WCHA playoffs on a consistent note of good hockey. They can take the Beavers closer to, or over to the wrong side of the tournament bubble if they pull off an unexpected positive result for themselves this weekend. If they can force some penalties through holding positive puck possession, and can keep things close, then the weekend could lead them into a better spot for the postseason than they are at right now.

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: Positives, and lessons learned on Senior Day

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Phography

Today, the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville scored first again. Lucas Bahn walked down to the goal line and fired a puck off Bowling Green netminder Zach Rose and in to send the loud Von Braun Center crowd into a frenzy. Not long after that, Tim Theochardis scored on a turnover that left Bowling Green with a breakaway where David Fessenden had to defend against multiple shooters by himself.

After that goal, Alabama Huntsville found itself in a familiar spot. They had to answer back after having their opponent eqalize the score. They did just that as Drew Lennon put home a shorthanded tally to give the Chargers the lead that would last until the third period. Bowling Green scored two goals 54 second apart to go ahead for good, an added an empty net tally to secure the 4-2 win. Despite getting outshot, Alabama Huntsville played the Falcons much closer than they did in the opener, only getting outdone in shot attempts by 14 (50-36).

What have we learned about the Chargers today? Well, today’s effort was the best summation of what this team can do against top end talent when it plays together. Did they lose? Yes they did, on a beautiful goal from Sam Craggs, a turnover for the first goal and a power play conceded. Despite the result, there are some good things from today to remember that can serve as a guide for this group the rest of this season.

The seniors are still important

Connor Merkley, and Connor Wood both had big parts in today’s efforts for the Chargers. Merkley centered the second line, and went 12-10 on faceoffs. More than that, he provided some help on offense with the primary assist on Bahn’s goal. His physical presence in the top six is always welcome, and credit to Merkley for coming in after not playing for 23 days to put in the work he did on his line today. As for Connor Wood, well, his leadership and physicsal play lead to Alabama Huntsville getting extended power play time in the second period. Although they could not score on any of it, Wood’s determination to get to tough areas and his speed pose problems to all of his opponents. That same level of speed and truculence could land Wood a professional contract after his time at Alabama Huntsville is done. As Associate Head Coach Karlis Zirnis said of the seniors’ impact on the program ” They are people who care a lot about the program and giving everything they can to the program. They have been thru a lot and many ups and down and we are thankful for everything they done. ”

This staff sees the support it gets

Alabama Huntsville finished its home schedule second in the nation in perent capacity attendance behind only the University of North Dakota. As Zirnis notes ” I’m very thankful for the people come out and support us thru these hard times. It means a lot for our guys and our staff. We appreciate every person who has attended the game or supporting us via internet. I can promise you will we keep working hard to improve our hockey program and there are better days ahead of us.”

Game management

As Zirnis said ” We limited our mistakes in the game and played a lot more physical today. We had shoot first mentality and going hard to the net.” The game today was the most complete game that this group has played all year. They did everything they could to stay in the game, and limit mistakes. Bowling Green happened to bury one of them (the four-on-four goal) on rare turnover. Going forward, if this team can get one foundational building block from the Bowling Green series, how it played a team likely to make the NCAA tournament today would be one thing to take from the series moving forward.

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