Location: Von Braun Center, Huntsville, Alabama
Game Time (Central):
Friday, November 6 – 7:07 PM
Saturday, November 7 – 7:07 PM
UAH: 3-2-1 (WCHA: 2-1-1 T-3rd)
MTU: 3-3-0 (WCHA: 3-3-0 2nd)
Broadcast: WCHA.TV (PPV)
UAH’s season hovered around the disaster area at the end of the second period last weekend at Lake Superior State. The Chargers were down 4-2 and had just given up a hat trick to Lake Superior’s J.T. Henke. They were in danger of going winless in their first three games of conference play against arguably the least difficult opponents in the conference.
Then the magic happened. Two third period goals by freshman Kurt Gosselin and an overtime winner by Cody Marooney. The Chargers pulled off the comeback. The following night, UAH rode the wave and blew the Lakers out of the water, earning their first shutout since Cam Talbot was in goal in 2010.
Michigan Tech’s season, on the other hand, has been a bit of a sputter. The reigning WCHA runner-up has only faced in-state rivals Ferris State (four times) and Northern Michigan (two times) this season. They managed to only win half of the games against two opponents they finished 5-1-1 against last season. Like UAH, Michigan Tech had to rally to win in overtime against Ferris State last weekend, but they did not carry it over on Saturday, giving up a brief one-goal lead in the second period. Out of the three two-game series, the Huskies have split all of them. Perhaps most concerning for MTU is their inability to maintain a lead – in the three losses so far, the Huskies have held the lead in at least one point in every game.
To say that UAH has historically struggled against Michigan Tech is a bit of an understatement. The Chargers are 0-8 against the Huskies in a series that goes all the way back to February 2014. Twice in the past two seasons, Michigan Tech has scored over ten goals on UAH – a 10-4 victory on February 8, 2014, and an 11-1 drubbing on January 31st of this year. Those two games represent the two highest scoring games for the Huskies since 1992. However, this is the first time these two teams have seen each other since the WCHA playoffs which opened with a triple overtime thriller in which Carmine Guerriero saved 75 of 76 shots that came his way.
Michigan Tech is a far stronger team than their current record suggests and have mostly been hindered in the early going by the familiarity in playing the same opponent four times. A single UAH win in this series would likely mark the biggest win for the school since their move to the WCHA. Even a tie would be significant.
Alabama-Huntsville Key Players:
Kurt Gosselin, D, Freshman
Kurt Gosselin made his NCAA debut last Friday night. In the third period, with UAH down two goals, Gosselin managed to score his first NCAA goal. Five minutes later, he managed to score his second. On Saturday night, he tacked on a pair of assists. Four points in his first two NCAA games earned the freshman blue-liner WCHA Freshman of the Week honors. It also likely earned him a lot more playing time going forward.
Carmine Guerriero, G, Junior
Last season’s playoff star against Michigan Tech has had a rough go of it to start the year. Guerriero hasn’t quite found his stride yet, and the slump continued as he gave up 4 early goals to Lake Superior last week. Through five starts, Guerriero is a respectable 2-2-1, but his GAA and save percentage reflect the sort of season he’s had so far: 3.15 and .885. In the junior’s defense, he hasn’t really been tested much this season – his best performances last season were when he was facing well over 30 – sometimes over 40 – shots. Michigan Tech can probably provide him with a lot of work. If he’s going to be “last year’s” Guerriero, this is probably the weekend that player comes back. It’s still very early in the season.
Matt Larose, G, Junior
When Mike Corbett gave the nod to Matt Larose last Saturday, he was giving the nod to a goaltender who had a career record of 1-25-2, a career save percentage of .889 and a GAA of 4.53. His lone win had been in February 2014 against Bemidji – a game in which he stopped 39 of 40 shots. Like Guerriero, Larose joined UAH at probably the hardest time to come into the program – with the program saved from the wrecking ball, Larose had very little in front of him in terms of both scoring and defense. Last weekend, though, Matt Larose got both. In a brilliant 31 save performance, it was Matt Larose shutting down Lake Superior on Friday night, earning UAH’s first shutout in 171 games. More importantly, Larose likely cemented himself into at least a few more starts this season. Whether he is considered a backup or a “1b”, he definitely increased his stock.
Cody Marooney, F, Junior
Cody Marooney doesn’t appear on the score sheet often, but when he does, he makes it count. Until last weekend, Marooney had just 11 points (6 – 5) in 78 college games. Two of those goals last year came in the form of game winners, as Marooney earned Player of the Week honors last season after UAH’s home sweep of Alaska-Anchorage (his only other goal last season was a short hander against Lake Superior). Last weekend, Marooney rose to the occasion again, potting the game-winner in Friday’s overtime win and getting the opening goal (and eventual game-winner) in Saturday’s shutout. He also had an assist thrown in for good measure. For the second time this calendar year, Marooney was named the WCHA’s Player of the Week. If you’re keeping score at home, Marooney has 8 career goals, but half of them are game winners. UAH has won 12 games since Marooney came aboard and he’s had the game-winner in one-third of them.
Max McHugh, F, Sophomore
Max McHugh ends up on this list every week with reason. He simply oozes consistency. McHugh has scored at least a point in all six of UAH’s games this season, adding an assist in each of last week’s wins. He was expected to put the team on his shoulders this season and has done all that was expected of him and more so far.
Brennan Saulnier, F, Sophomore
Brennan Saulnier continued his surprising charge last Friday night, posting two more goals, giving him a total of 6 goals and 9 points through five games. With 1.20 goals per game, Saulnier leads the NCAA in goal-scoring pace. His 1.80 point per game pace puts him far-and-away the WCHA’s top scorer in terms of pace. Unfortunately, after scoring those two first period goals against Lake Superior, Saulnier has haunted with the sort of weekend he dealt with quite a bit last season. At the end of the first period, drawn into a confrontation with LSSU’s Eric Drapluk, Saulnier was given a minor for roughing and had a ten minute misconduct tacked onto it. To cap it off, Saulnier laid a hit late in the game which – while not penalized on the ice – earned him a suspension for Saturday. Regardless of how the weekend played out for him, the WCHA named Saulnier October’s Player of the Month. With the shutout drought ended, the hat trick drought is the only one that remains. UAH has not had a hat trick since February 1, 2008 – is Saulnier the prime candidate to get it?
Michigan Tech Key Players:
Malcolm Gould, F, Senior
Malcolm Gould has performed extremely well against Ferris State this season, scoring three goals and an assist against the Bulldogs. Unfortunately, Gould didn’t find the scoresheet at all versus Northern Michigan. As half of an extremely proficient one-two punch with Alex Petan, Gould hasn’t quite ramped up his performance yet. While he has just four points so far, Gould has been a veritable Chargers killer in the past two seasons. As a sophomore, Gould appeared in both of the games against UAH, assisting on the game-winner in the first, while scoring a pair of goals including the game-winner in the second. Last season, Gould had a goal and an assist in the second game in Huntsville, while adding another five points in the two game series at Michigan Tech. In seven career games versus UAH (he missed the last one) – Gould has scored ten points on the Chargers. Aside from perhaps Tyler Morley of Alaska and Brandon Hawkins of Bowling Green, there’s no player who puts as much hurt on the Chargers as Malcolm Gould.
Alex Petan, F, Senior
Outside of a three-point performance in the Huskies’ opener versus Ferris State, Michigan Tech’s leading returning scorer has been mostly absent on the scoresheet, adding just one assist over the last five games. When it comes to UAH, Petan is about as dangerous as they come if “they” are not named Malcolm Gould, racking up seven points against the Chargers last season and three game-winners. He’s off to a slow start, but considering he’s been either first or second on his team in scoring in all three seasons at Michigan Tech, it’s just a matter of time before Petan takes off.
Jamie Phillips, G, Senior
UAH has lost to Michigan Tech eight times – Jamie Phillips has been the goaltender of record in six of those contests. Last season, Phillips racked up an overall record of 28-9-2, but most importantly for the Chargers, he managed a 6-0 record against UAH, allowing just five goals in those six games. UAH has not scored in their last 204:56 versus Jamie Phillips. Ignoring the goaltender’s slow start to the season, he has shut out UAH three of the last four times the teams have met. The other game, UAH lost 11-1. Needless to say, Phillips – a Winnipeg Jets prospect – being on top of his game is probably the single most important key for the Huskies this weekend.