It is with heavy hearts that today we have to say goodbye to college hockey’s first victim of the COVID-19 global pandemic: the Alabama Huntsville Chargers. Though often not a high performer in the WCHA era, it’s always sad to lose a member of our college hockey family, especially one in a severely underrepresented part of the hockey community.
For better or for worse, the Chargers have been a key part in some memorable moments in Michigan Tech history. On March 15, 2015, Michigan Tech took the first game of the WCHA quartefinal series 1-0 from the Chargers in triple overtime. On that day, the Chargers were playing on the back of one of the most outstanding goaltending performances the NCAA has ever seen. Carmine Guerrero stopped 77 of 78 shots, which was at the time a single-game NCAA save record. Even though the Huskies managed the sweep, the Chargers had earned the respect of both the team and the fans on that night.
This past season for the Chargers left a lot to be desired. Though their exit is largely unceremonial due to the abysmal season they had and the fact that it is happening in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, the final win the Chargers recorded was on the ice of the Von Braun center against our very own beloved Huskies. Many current students will be able to say that they were in Huntsville to witness the final victory in Chargers history, which while not a great look for our team, is still a fun fact they have the right to bring up from time to time.
I wanted to take this time to thank the Chargers. You helped bring the game we love to a population that didn’t know what they were missing. There will always be traditionalists that say that hockey is destined to fail in southern markets, but I view growing the game wherever possible to be a win for hockey everywhere. Your program overcame so much adversity to be a testament to the strength of southern hockey culture. For the impact you’ve left and for the new fans of the sport you’ve created, I genuinely thank you.
And so, it is on this day that we say a very genuine and heartfelt goodbye to the Chargers. Thank you for everything you did for expanding hockey southward, overcoming incredible odds, fighting for the right to exist, and for helping us create some memorable moments along the way.