Ever since Mike Corbett took over the reigns as head coach of hockey at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, he’s brought a unique kind of candor and brutal honesty with not only his expectations from his team, but about the future success he plans to see with the program. While most in the media as well as other coaches in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) may not see the Chargers finishing higher than eight in the conference, there’s a feeling that this year’s team could finish as high as fourth or fifth. As it’s been said every year lately, the team and program have been through a lot in recent years, but with this being Corbett’s third year, and most of the team not evening knowing what it’s like to not belong to a conference, the attitude is changing from just moral victories on the ice to winning games in decisive fashion.
“I think the biggest thing we’re doing as a staff is that we believe we have the players to be able to put in everything I want,” said Corbett. “All the systems and everything. There isn’t a sense of ‘oh he’s not good enough.’ We’ve added more depth into our program, so there’s going to be a guy ready to go behind you if you’re not ready. In my first two years, we didn’t really have that. There’s going to be built in competition now, and I think that’s going to be the best for us.”
That built in competition is thanks to the recruiting effort over the past two seasons. Corbett is bringing in players that can help the program succeed.
“A lot of that has to do with what I’ve said since day one, we want kids who want to be a part of our program and what we’re doing,” said Corbett on recruiting. “I want the best player, sure every coach does, but I want the right guy. The key is that I think we have more of the right guys coming in to continue to solidify our foundation. It’s my second recruiting class since I’ve been here. To me, that’s ultimately what it comes down to, finding those right players.”
With the addition of Adam Wilcox to the squad, the Chargers will now have two players from the southeast. The other being Josh Kestner. Being the only NCAA Division I program in the entire region gives UAH an opportunity to recruit players in their own backyard.
“The southeast district is something that we really wanted to try and dive into knowing that we’re the closest school for all those kids in the southeast,” said Corbett. “There are good enough players. Some of them are going to go to junior hockey, a lot go out east to prep schools, so we have to get our hooks into a little earlier before these younger guys go to prep school and get exposed to eastern schools. We want to be able to do that and bring those kids in because they’re technically all in our backyard. We want to be able to expose them to our program and let them know how important it is to have their friends and family watch them play home games. And when they have that and are a good fit for your program, it’s an easy decision.”
In addition to Wilcox, there will be a multitude of new faces that Corbett expects to make an immediate impact on the squad.
“I think we have a few guys [that can make an instant impact],” said Corbett. “Jetlan Houcher is a kid from Alberta. He has a history of scoring goals. He played with Brennan Saulnier a few years ago. Jetlan is a bigger kid who scored 39 goals last year. He has 85-90 goals in his junior career, and he’s the guy we’re going to put in position to have an impact right from day one.
And then our d-corps. We want to do everything with our defenseman to be able to control games so we have the puck on our stick a little bit more. Kurt Gosselin and Cam Knight are two guys that we think are going to be big time additions to our d-corps to be able to give us a little more offense on the back line and just control the game.
Adam Wilcox is going to be a hardworking guy that is going to come in here and give us a little bit of muscle. You have Gorowsky and Dunn who are just two good hockey players. They’re guys who are going to come in and push everybody and we believe they will be in our lineup from day one. We have a little bit of everything; a little bit of size, grit and skill. We’ve added a lot of different ingredients to our recipe.”
When a team has a star goaltender in the making with Carmine Guerriero, the Chargers should be in every game they play this season. Add to solid goaltending a good mix of forwards that can finally score and solid blueliners, and this team will surprise man throughout the league this season. As it’s been for the past four seasons, the Chargers just continue to improve each year.
“We’re going guns blazing and going 0 to 60 in 2.2 seconds come October 1st and we’ll be ready to go,” exclaimed Corbett. “We open up with UCONN, a nice school that everybody knows with brand identity. Hopefully we have a great crowd and some energy in the building that opening weekend.”
Be sure to head down to Huntsville to catch the Chargers in action. They open the season against Connecticut October 9th and 10th at the Von Braun Center.
Photo Credit: UAH Hockey