In the visiting locker room after last Friday night's 1-1 road tie against Alabama-Huntsville -- a game that marked the first point the Chargers have earned on home ice this season -- UAA coach Matt Thomas challenged his seniors to be better in the series finale the following night.
"He said, 'You've got to be the guys to get us going,' '' senior winger Jordan Kwas recalled. "He kinda called us out in front of the boys.''
Thomas didn't think senior center Matt Bailey or Kwas had played very well in the tie. They played hard, Thomas said, but they weren't sharp.
The next night, Bailey scored two first-period goals 15 seconds apart. Kwas added the other two goals in a 4-1 UAA victory. Both were plus-2.
Senior goaltender Chris Kamal, who had played well in the tie, backed it up with 19 saves. Winger Brett Cameron, a fourth-year Seawolf but technically a junior, furnished an assist and a plus-2 rating. And senior defenseman Quinn Sproule, who Thomas thought played well in the tie, was again solid.
Message sent by the coach. Message received by the seniors.
"You take it personally,'' Kwas said. "But at the same time, it's a matter of digging down and competing at the next level. It's kind of our job to have the young guys ready to go every game, not just the big games.''
Bigger games loom, starting with Friday night's Western Collegiate Hockey Association series opener against seventh-place Northern Michigan, which trails fourth-place UAA by four points but has four league games in hand on the Seawolves.
Thomas said he told his seniors in a meeting early in the season there would probably come a time during the season when he would call them out, and that moment came in the wake of the tie against Huntsville.
"It was a healthy thing -- 'You guys have to be better,' '' Thomas said. "What I liked was that, as a team, we played a dominating game (Saturday).''
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
9-11-2, 7-6-1 WCHA
12-9-3, 8-7-3 WCHA
Friday and Saturay, 7:07 p.m., Sullivan Arena
Radio: Live, AM-650 KENI
TV: Tape delayed, 10:30 p.m., GCI cable Channel 1
Half of the men’s hockey teams in Division 1 — 30 of 59 — have used at least three goaltenders this season, and Ohio State has used four.
But UAA has spread its minutes among three goaltenders more broadly than any other team in the nation — senior Rob Gunderson has played 43.9 percent of the minutes, senior Chris Kamal has logged 32.0 percent and freshman Michael Matyas has furnished 23.5 percent.
No other team in the nation has three goaltenders who have each logged at least 20 percent of the team’s minutes.
|GOALS AGAINST||TIME IN|
Note: UAA’s net has been empty 0.6 percent of the time.