by Franklin Foreham/Guest Contributor
Are you kidding me?
It's one of those stories they wouldn't believe in Hollywood.
But that's the way Alabama-Huntsville became the first team to qualify for the NCAAs.
The Chargers spent the entire weekend, not only as underdogs, but coming from behind, pulling off repeated Houdini acts.
"I've been trying to retire," Ross joked to the Huntsville (Ala.) Times, "and they won't let me, this team."
And they saved the best for last.
Facing Robert Morris in Sunday's CHA championship game, the Chargers fell behind 4-0 before the end of the first period. They then ripped off four straight goals to tie it, before winning in overtime — on a shorthanded goal, for crying out loud — to earn their first-ever trip to the NCAAs.
But after all, that was only par for the course this weekend for the Chargers.
Let's not forgot that UAH was playing this season knowing it was the last for head coach Doug Ross. After 25 seasons at the helm, Ross announced in midseason that he would step down after this year. UAH hardly played inspired hockey as a result, finishing in last place with a 7-11-2 league record, and 10-19-3 overall record.
At no point this season had UAH won more than two games in a row. Until now.
The play-in game of the CHA tournament was remarkable enough, with the Chargers falling behind 3-0 then rallying to win 4-3. No one expected them to be able to muster enough energy to defeat first-place Niagara then next night, and indeed, it didn't look good, down 3-1.
But UAH caught lightning in a bottle again, scoring four unanswered goals for the second straight game, and knocking off Niagara 5-3.
But could it happen again? This was the biggest hill to climb, down 4-0 to the Colonials after a first period that actually saw the Chargers outshoot RMU, 15-7.
And then it happened. A goal, then another on a 5-on-3, then another on the ensuing regular power play. It was 4-3 after two.
Then in the third period, another power-play goal. This thing was tied — the shots: 42-22 UAH.
When it finally happened, 12:31 into overtime, it, of course, needed more drama. First of all, David Nimmo's goal was shorthanded, which is storybook enough. But then it needed a video review. After a delay to check the video, the goal stood.
"You couldn't have had a better script than to do it the way we had to do it," coach Doug Ross said. "They made themselves into a hockey team this weekend."
It's a thoroughly heartbreaking loss for Robert Morris — also looking for its first-ever NCAA bid — but an incredible win, and moment, for the Chargers.