Location: Von Braun Center, Huntsville, Alabama
Game Time (Central):
Friday, December 4 – 7:07 PM
Saturday, December 5 – 7:07 PM
UAH: 3-8-1 (WCHA: 2-7-1 10th)
NMU: 4-5-5 (WCHA: 3-4-3 5th)
Broadcast: WCHA.TV (PPV)
With six straight losses, UAH looks to right the ship this weekend at home with a WCHA series against Northern Michigan.
After sweeping Lake Superior on Thanksgiving weekend to start the season 3-2-1, the Chargers went 0-6-0 in November, being swept by Michigan Tech, Bowling Green, and Bemidji State. With an offense that put up five goals three times in the first six games, UAH just managed ten goals in six November games.
Northern Michigan has been relatively middle of the pack so far this season with wins against Lake Superior, Bemidji State, and Alaska despite having any series sweeps. In addition, the Wildcats tied preseason WCHA favorite Minnesota State in a pair of games. The Wildcats have shown an ability to hang with every team they have played so far this season.
Allowing 2.36 goals per game, Northern Michigan currently ranks third in the WCHA while UAH ranks last with 3.17. The Chargers actually rank second in the conference in scoring with 2.67 goals per game, but are being outscored by a half goal per game. UAH continues to struggle with the extra man, with a power play percentage of just .135, while the penalty kill isn’t much better at .792.
Perhaps the most hopeful thing for UAH this weekend is how they performed the last time they played the Wildcats – sweeping them in a pair of games at home in Huntsville. In a series that dates back to January 24, 2003, the Chargers have a 2-8-2 record all time against the Wildcats, with a 2-3-1 record at the Von Braun Center. Those two wins against Northern Michigan, again, came last season in a sweep at the Von Braun Center.
Alabama-Huntsville Key Players:
Chad Brears, F, Senior
Chad Brears has been quietly consistent this season. One of only four seniors, Brears is on pace to have the best season of his collegiate career. He missed a couple of games in the compacted week last week, but came back into the lineup to score the lone UAH goal in the Black Friday game against Bemidji – and it was a beauty. In 10 games, Brears has 9 points (4 – 5).
Carmine Guerriero, G, Junior
Once again, last weekend Guerriero and Matt Larose split the goaltending duties against Bemidji State. In Guerriero’s appearance in the second game, he was outstanding for the first fifty minutes or so before two late goals put the Chargers down 3-1 in a game they would ultimately lose 4-1. Guerriero’s record on the season has fallen to 2-5-1 with a 2.99 GAA and a .891 save percentage. For a goaltender who was near the top of the heap in the WCHA last season, those numbers each rank him 12th among the 14 eligible WCHA goaltenders. The good news for Guerriero is that he was the goaltender in UAH’s sweep of the Wildcats at the Von Braun Center last season. With three starts last year against NMU, Guerriero finished 2-0-1, only giving up four goals in the three games.
Matt Larose, G, Junior
Matt Larose continues to get starts in the Chargers’ rotation and continues to perform well, but – like his team – he was yet to find a win since he shut out Lake Superior State on Halloween. Larose has only played four games this season, with a 1-3 record. However, his .918 save percentage and 2.48 GAA rank seventh and sixth in the WCHA respectively – firmly in the middle of the pack. Larose only faced Northern Michigan once last season, losing 4-1 in a game in which he saved 37 of 41 shots. Based on the way the past few series have gone, he should be the Friday night starter.
Max McHugh, F, Sophomore
For UAH, Max McHugh is pretty much a key to the team’s success every week. Last season against Northern Michigan, he only managed a pair of assists. This year, the sophomore forward’s 11 points (3 – 8) tie him for the team scoring lead with Brennan Saulnier and keep him on nearly a point per game pace on the season.
Northern Michigan Key Players:
Cohen Adair, F, Senior
One thing Northern Michigan has excelled at so far this season is a Barry Trotz-like “scoring by committee”. With 6 points (3 – 3), Cohen Adair ranks seventh on the Wildcats in scoring, but is only two back of the teams’ leading scorer Darren Nowick. All of Adair’s points this season have come in NMU’s last seven games. Most importantly, all of his goals have been huge – his first goal of the season was the game-winner against Bemidji. His second goal of the season was the game-tying goal in the first tie against Minnesota State. His third goal – in NMU’s last contest – sent the game to overtime against Bowling Green. For Adair – a 2013 invitee to the Chicago Blackhawks development camp – it’s been quite an offensive improvement on his past three seasons in which he scored a combined 21 points while being hampered by injuries.
Atte Tolvanen, G, Freshman
In perhaps the best evidence in the WCHA of a goaltender not receiving any support up front, Tolvanen has played in 14 games and won just 3 of them, racking up a 3-5-5 record so far in his freshman season. Tolvanen comes into the Von Braun Center with a .930 save percentage and a 2.25 GAA. His save percentage ranks second among all goaltenders in the WCHA and second among freshmen in the NCAA. His GAA ranks both fourth in the WCHA and fourth amount NCAA freshmen. The Finnish freshman has faced the second most shots (446) in the NCAA so far thiss season. At the same time, he leads the country in saves (415). He has basically been peppered so far in his freshman season and has excelled despite it.