While it may be the off-season for all things hockey, we all know that hockey itself never ends. This applies to college hockey as much as anything else. During the season and especially the off-season, college hockey coaches are constantly searching for pieces to add to their program. The recruiting process is long and tedious, but something that must be done. This job is especially important for head coach Mike Corbett of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Recruiting for a Division I hockey team in northern Alabama is certainly unique. It’s going to take a certain type of player to help build the program back to where it was before it went through troubling times and was almost completely lost. Mike Corbett shared some details about the off-season while in town at the Elite Edge Hockey Showcase.
“We’re recruiting like mad,” said Corbett. “We’re leaving here and then going to Chicago, then to Sioux City for the USHL tryout camp. I’m going to Green Bay and Madison, too. We’re building the program. We’ve got all of our kids in school and just waiting on one of the foreign players to get in. We like what we did. We had a good spring with our players and we’re excited.”
The 2013-14 season was full of growing pains, but the players stayed positive throughout it as they knew it would be tough. They know they have the opportunity to be a part of something special and Corbett wanted to make sure they stayed focus over the summer.
“The players went home with some individual goals that we felt could change the atmosphere of the program,” said Corbett on continuing to build the program.
Part of changing that atmosphere is obviously winning more games, especially at home. Being in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) means that teams must do a great bit a traveling as teams are spread out from Alabama to Alaska and in between. Teams will usually exchange home series with their conference opponents each year. This means that the team UAH defeated last season, Bowling Green, will come in to Huntsville next season. There will definitely be some challenges on the schedule for the Chargers during the next season.
“We still have one in Alaska, probably one of the tougher ones in Fairbanks,” said Corbett on the schedule. “We’re going to Colorado twice, so there are some familiar teams for me. We’re going to UNO before Christmas and we like it. I think we’re going to be more prepared. The kids are going to understand what it’s going to take in the WCHA night in and night out. That’s the biggest thing we’re hoping for.”
One of the bright spots for UAH last season was the goaltending tandem of Matt Larose and Carmine Guerreiro. There were some nights where each goalie would face 40+ shots and yet still have a save percentage near .900. Both were freshmen last season and can continue to grow and improve their game.
“We want them to get stronger,” said Corbett. “They’re two freshmen, two young guys. We want them to get stronger coming in this season. Hopefully next year it won’t be one guy Friday, one guy Saturday. Somebody’s going to emerge. When somebody does, they both understand that it’s going to be respected and they’re going to give that guy a shot. Or it might be Friday-Saturday, similar to what it was. But the young guys have to get stronger and the old have have to get quicker.”
UAH kicks off the 2014-15 season on October 10th with a non-conference games against Colorado College. The Chargers will have their home opener on October 17th with Bowling Green coming to Huntsville.