University of Alabama-Huntsville

Alabama-Huntsville coach steps down one week after program is saved

A week after a $500,000 fundraising goal was met to save the program, Alabama-Huntsville hockey coach Mike Corbett has resigned.

The announcement was made on Wednesday, with assistant coach Gavin Morgan joining Corbett in leaving the program. Assistant Lance West will take on the role of acting head coach.

“I want to thank all of you for your support and supporting the players during this time,” Corbett wrote in an email to supporters obtained by WZDX. “It meant a lot to me and them. I wish things were different and the results were better, I truly do. I own that. I will not make excuses and I will tell you I came to work everyday and put everything I had into it. Not always making the right decisions, but doing what I thought was right for the program every day. Myself and my staff embraced it and fought the good fight every day. Only we know how that was and it was difficult but continued to put the program and the players first.”

The Chargers were 2-26-6 this past season, the seventh with Corbett in charge.

According to Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News, Corbett faced plenty of obstacles at the school.

According to insiders, Corbett wanted to leave on his own terms. The coach had led the Chargers for seven seasons and dealt with a lot of challenges, from a lack of recruiting money to the loss of a conference when seven WCHA schools announced they would be leaving Alabama-Huntsville and the two Alaska schools behind to form a new CCHA in 2021-22.

On May 22 UAH announced it was cutting its hockey and tennis programs, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporters and alumni, including Flames goalie Cam Talbot, backed a fundraising campaign that saw the goal reached before Friday’s deadline. The school then approved a $1.5 million budget for next season.

There is no guarantee beyond 2020-21 that the program will keep playing, but there is now time to create a sustainable, long-term plan.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Supporters quickly raise $500K to try and save Alabama-Huntsville hockey program

UAH Hockey University of Alabama-Huntsville logo $500K
via UAH Chargers

Mere days after it looked like the University of Alabama-Huntsville men’s hockey program was going to get cut, supporters raised a whopping $500K in hopes of keeping the UAH program alive.

With another $500K expected to come from boosters, the University of Alabama-Huntsville men’s ice hockey program reached the seemingly unrealistic goal of $1M to try to avoid the end of a program that stretches back four decades.

UAH supporters drove that $500K by combining a Go Fund Me account with T-shirt sales.

Now, this doesn’t outright guarantee the continuation of UAH’s men’s program.

“[School president Darren Dawson] did make us a verbal commitment that if you get to that number, we’ll make it happen,” former UAH player Sheldon Wolitski told AL.com. “We’re hoping he’s going to honor his word. We were asking for a formal statement from him to say that. It would be a shame to put all this effort and we raise it and he doesn’t follow through.”

Even if school officials stick to that verbal commitment, there are some hurdles to clear.

Not the first time the UAH men’s ice hockey program has been saved

Paul Gattis (also of AL.com) argues that the UAH men’s ice hockey program needs more than just money to survive. This is not, after all, the first time that this program needed saving. It was teetering on being canceled back in 2011 before victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat.

Even so, it’s pretty remarkable, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Does it justify comparing UAH officials to “Dr. Evil?” I’d zip it on that one.)

Those fighting for the UAH men’s ice hockey program aim to preserve something quite unusual, as Joseph Goodman noted as fundraising intensified:

UAH hockey is the only NCAA Division I hockey program in the South. How cool is that? It’s one of one — a singular, special thing just like the city it skates for and represents.

Will we see this program survive after giving Cam Talbot and others the chance to chase their dreams? It seems a lot more likely after an eventful week.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Cam Talbot, supporters trying to save Alabama-Huntsville hockey program

The lights may not be out just yet on the University of Alabama-Huntsville men’s hockey program.

Days after the school announced it was cutting men’s and women’s tennis, as well as hockey, the opportunity was presented to give the team one more season and the chance to find private funding.

That fundraising goal? $1 million by the end of this week.

“[School president Darren Dawson] did make us a verbal commitment that if you get to that number, we’ll make it happen,” former UAH player Sheldon Wolitski told AL.com. “We’re hoping he’s going to honor his word. We were asking for a formal statement from him to say that. It would be a shame to put all this effort and we raise it and he doesn’t follow through.”

Dawson and athletic director Cade Smith announced last week that the program, which goes back 41 years, was ending due to budget problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hockey in Huntsville has been around since the late 70s and it’s really grown,” said Jared Ross, who played four years at UAH and whose dad coached the team for 25 years. “You look at the kids around the rink and how it’s impacted them. You see them out on the ice skating during the intermission and cleaning up the snow. It’s had a huge impact on the growth of hockey in Huntsville.”

Wolitski and another former player promised $300,00 toward the $1 million goal. A GoFundMe has raised over $260,000 as of Thursday morning toward the short-term goal of $500,000.

From the fundraising page:

For short term we are looking to raise $500,000 of the 1 million via this Go Fund Me account. If the required funds are raised, UAH has agreed to create an advisory board consisting of hockey alumni, local business leaders and major donors to help turn UAH Hockey into a world class hockey program.

That campaign has been given a signal boost by the program’s most famous alum, Flames goaltender Cam Talbot, who played for the team from 2007-10.

“The program meant a lot to me,” Talbot told NHL.com’s WIlliam Douglas. “I never thought that it would really kind of grow to allow me to live out my dream like I am now. I wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity if I didn’t end up in Alabama.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WCHA’s Alabama-Huntsville cuts hockey program

Alabama-Huntsville is dropping men’s hockey and men’s and women’s tennis as part of budget cuts in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

School officials said athletes in those sports who want to join another team’s roster will be released without penalty and free to transfer immediately. If they choose to stay, their current scholarships will be honored for the duration of their academic careers.

Alabama-Huntsville was one of the only southern schools to have a men’s hockey varsity program. The Chargers won Division II national titles in 1996 and 1998 and were Division II runners-up in 1994 and 1997 before making the move to the Division I level for the 1998-99 season.

Men’s hockey had been the lone Division I sport for Alabama-Huntsville. It competes at the Division II level in all other sports.

NCAA on NBCSN: No. 15 Fighting Irish host Alabama-Huntsville

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 college hockey season tonight when the No. 15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-8-1) host the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers (1-21-0) at the Compton Family Ice Arena with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can also catch the game online at NBC Sports Live Extra

There’s quite the juxtaposition of circumstances on display in South Bend this weekend. Notre Dame heads into their two-game set with Alabama-Huntsville ranked 15th in the USCHO.com poll and sit eighth in Hockey East. The ranking is nice, but coach Jeff Jackson would certainly like his team to turn things up in the second half.

The Irish are coming off a thrilling loss to Boston College at Frozen Fenway in Boston last week. Having to contain both Bill Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau for a single game is asking a lot and it was Gaudreau who scored the game-winner midway through the third period.

Notre Dame has other issues, however. They have just two wins in their last seven games and one of those was a 5-2 victory against UAH in the Shillelagh Tournament. Losing to BC and UMass-Lowell is one thing, but splitting a weekend set with UMass before winter break doesn’t look so good. Goalie Steven Summerhays has held strong but they’ll need more from T.J. Tynan and Mario Lucia (pictured) if they’re going to storm into the Hockey East playoffs.

Saturday night’s game between these same teams will be streamed on NBC Live Extra on NBCSports.com at 7 p.m. ET.

The Chargers, however, have had a rough go of it in their first season in the WCHA. They have the worst record in college hockey and their lone win came on the road at Bowling Green in overtime. UAH’s top scorer is freshman Matt Salhany with seven points. Their top goal man is sophomore forward Chad Brears with four.

As a team they’ve scored just 22 goals this season. Yes, they’re averaging exactly one goal per game. Ouch.

While goals have been hard to come by, goaltending has been a struggle as well as they split time between a pair of freshmen, Carmine Guerriero and Matt Larose. For first-year coach Mike Corbett, accommodating to life in Alabama has been a struggle. It sure beats having the program being on the brink of being eliminated though.

NHL Draftees

Notre Dame – Forwards: Vince Hinostroza (FR – Blackhawks), T.J. Tynan (SR – Blue Jackets), Austin Wuthrich (JR – Capitals), Bryan Rust (SR – Penguins), Jeff Costello (SR – Senators), Mario Lucia (SO – Wild), Steven Fogarty (SO – Rangers), Thomas DiPauli (SO – Capitals).

Defense: Robbie Russo (JR -Islanders), Stephen Johns (SR – Blackhawks), Kevin Lind (SR – Ducks)

Alabama-Huntsville — None