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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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.

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.

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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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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UAH wins an overtime thriller 5-4: Now What?

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Tonight, the Von Braun Center was rocking from start to finsh, as the Chargers of Alabama Huntsville were able to come back to tie the game with 2.4 seconds left on a Ben Allen put back on a rebound from a Quinn Green shot to send the game into overtime. In the extra stanza, Dayne Finnson rocketed home a top corner snipe to send the socially distanced crowd home happy, and put a stamp on one of the most intense games of this pandemic-altered season.

After all of that, there is plenty to consider, and while UAH did win, we think the staff will have some things they would like to chat with the team about before the finale. Remember that, tonight, in terms of time of possesion and shot attempts from dangerous areas, the Chargers not only did better, but found a way to answer adversity. This fact will serve them well as the season marches forward.

The Good

Well, the speed of the Chargers was on full display tonight. Tyrone Bronte was an absolute rocket on the ice, and he was not the only Charger that was able to get in behind a very physical Ferris State team that capitalized on chances they had. Bronte himself picked up a power play goal on a nice setup from Lucas Bahn. Bronte was able to get in between a big Ferris State penalty kill and tip the puck past Logan Stein, who showed why he was a goalie for Team USA at the World Junior Championship this year. Stein finished with 40 saves on the evening, including many grade-a looks. In terms of how hard the Chargers made a goalie work, this was their best outing of the year.

In addition, we were heartened to see Drew Lennon get his first goal as a junior for this team. He, like many in his class, could have gone elsewhere but he choose to come back and buy in to this new staff’s program, and had a key goal and two assists. Along with scoring his first goal as a Charger, he exceeded both of his previous individual seasons’ point totals in one game tonight with three.

To us, multiple people stood out, but Bronte, Lennon, and Dayne Finnson all stood out tonight. His winner was one of the most effective shots on net the Chargers have had all year on a tough angle against a superb goalie. He deserves all the credit in the world for his effort. Also, on the heels of a good weekend against Michigan Tech we will highlight the effort and speed of Quinn Green, on the equalizer by Ben Allen, it was Green’s speed and pass that sprung Allen for the look that provided the equalizer.

What to watch for

While the Chargers had the better time on attack, possession, and shots on net, we still want to point out a few areas we feel confident in saying that after the euphoria of today abates, that the coaches may adress with this group. First off, two penalties happened away from the play or not during its run that gave Ferris State more time on the extra man, and some five-on-three time. We are pretty positive neither Connor Witherspoon or Connor Wood meant to end up in the box for their faceoff delay, and roughing penalties, but it happened. Luckily the penalty kill of Karlis Zirnis killed off both looks there, but the point will probably be driven home some more in some way tomorrow.

Finally, for how important the system is to this team, it got away from it at points. Other than the first look which was a seeing-eye marker from Antonio Venuto, nearly every other goal from Ferris State came on a defensive zone breakdown that gave the Bulldogs more time and space in front of the net.

With all of this said, the page turns to tomorrow night, and the Chargers must be ready for a determined opponent that wants its first win. Ferris State, especially Stein will be ready, how will these Chargers react to playing after a win? Tomorrow will be the first chance they have to answer that question.

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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Sean Henry-Helping Provide a Sounding Board for UAH with the Advisory Board

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

“UAH is the shining light of southern collegiate hockey.” This fact combined with a desire to be actively involved in some way is what drove President of the Nashville Predators, Sean Henry, who noted the aforementioned quote to participate in the Advisory Board founded as the program brought back this Spring.

In addition, as to its impact on the whole campus Henry sees the following given the unique status of hockey as the only sport at the Division one level on campus. For Hockey to thrive in the long run at Huntsville the program itself needs consistent national exposure, and maximizable revenue opportunities. Coming up with and providing ideas to implement those revenue options is one of Henry’s biggest contributions to the board.

In addition, he and others are being helpful to the Athletic Department in being a sounding board.

That is, he does not participate in meetings, but serves as a very influential consultant able to open doors for the Athletic Department. The board itself has become a lifeline for the Athletic Department, while Henry serves as a very important sounding board for areas in his expertise. He likes providing as much help as possible to everyone in his organization, and has taken that approach to helping this board. When the Athletics Department has some questions, he guides them not to what is the “right” answer, but one that is doable given the conditions the Chargers have. Henry is also an advocate for the school adding more positions across the department to benefit every sport, and therefore hockey, by extension. This year is a building block for the Chargers in many ways, chief among them being ideas that generate revenue.

One other area of note, once UAH has a better idea of their conference affiliation, in the name of building exposure, Henry is working with the program to provide ideas for marquee games, and tournaments to bring the best in college hockey to Nashville, of course the Chargers would be an integral part to this endeavor. Henry is of the mind that more hockey for everyone is good, saying its good for everyone involved given that, “the more hockey you see the more you love it, the more you love it the more you come.”

With all of that said, it is clear to Henry that UAH is going in the right direction, and of its larger impact on the Athletic Department and School, he said that as hockey gets more exposure it will benefit athletics as a whole and “a great Athletics Department can make a good college even better.”

With his decades of experience in professional sports, with the Pistons, Lightning, and now Predators, Henry has fun and revenue generation pretty well figured out for Smashville. He brings that same energy to this board. The board at the end of the day is designed to help this Athletic Department climb to the top of the mountain of Division One College Hockey, not teleport to it.

Throughout this interview Henry noted the renewed relationship with the Huntsville Havoc that the Athletic Department is working to foster this season. As both teams share the arena, they have the ability to work together to defray expenses while maximizing revenue for all.

Henry knows this year will be one of growth for UAH, saying that “growth naturally happens” over time as the team looks to build the next chapter of the program from here.

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

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

The Home of the Underdog: We have only just begun

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

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

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

Why?

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

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

What does this mean?

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

Why would we do this?

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

What about your other sports that you have covered?

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

How can you help?

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

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

UAH Hockey: Credit the Returners

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

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

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

Bauer Neudecker

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

Tyr Thompson

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

Lucas Bahn

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

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

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UAH Outplays Not Outscores Michigan Tech: Now What?

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

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

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

Effort, and What Comes Next

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

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

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

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

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

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