MADISON, Wis. — This was the kind of rebound performance Alabama-Huntsville coach Danton Cole was looking for.
After his team was thrashed in a 5-0 shutout against host Wisconsin the night before, Cole was looking for more heart and more energy from his Chargers’ squad, wanting his players to be more aggressive and more opportunistic with their scoring chances.
It was a long-winded, weighty message that he delivered, but his squad got it.
Alabama-Huntsville got two goals from assistant captain Josh Murray and 36 saves from junior Blake MacNicol, helping the Chargers upend Harvard, 4-1, in the third place game of the Badger Hockey Showcase.
“My big thing from last night was to play with more passion,” Cole said of his team, who won for just the third time in 14 games. “You can’t play the game of hockey if you don’t have energy. We were just standing in the tracks and we got run over. We talked about that a lot last night and this morning.”
One night after attempting only 10 shots, Alabama-Huntsville (3-10-1) threw 29 shots at the Crimson (4-8-2) and committed only eight minutes worth penalties on Sunday, a day after the Chargers spent 32 minutes in the box.
However, even the most fundamentally sound team needs to catch a break offensively, a trait that hasn’t been kind to UAH. Entering the game averaging 1.77 goals per game, Alabama-Huntsville’s offense was ranked 53rd among the 58 Division I teams.
Thanks in part to the Chargers firing 19 more shots than the semifinal game, Alabama-Huntsville got out to a comfortable 3-0 lead and tied its season high with four goals, helping them snap a six-game losing streak.
“We don’t need 20 goals out of all of the guys,” Cole said. “We’ll take five goals out of them and it’ll be a good second half.”
A night after replacing sophomore goalie Cameron Talbot in the third period of last night’s game and making nine saves, MacNicol got the start and never wavered, stopping 36 of the 37 shots he faced.
His only bugaboo was a power-play goal by Harvard center Daniel Moriarty to close the gap to 3-1 six minutes into the third period, but the Crimson would get no closer.
“We’ve played hard and done a lot of things right and just weren’t getting rewarded with a lot of goals,” Cole said. “It was nice to win because these guys work hard as a group. We have a lot of league play coming up and it’s nice to get that winning.”