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Falcons rely on seniors' guidance

November 30, 2006

The UW-River Falls men’s hockey team is looking strong this season, with a record of 7-1 thus far.

Helping lead the way for the Falcons are the teams only two seniors Tyler Kostiuk and Jared Sailer.

Kostiuk, a 5-foot-10-inch forward from Fernie, British Columbia, and Sailer, a 6-foot-3-inch forward from nearby Cranbrook, British Columbia, are the only two seniors on this season’s squad. When the two of them joined the Falcons four years ago, there were about 10 freshmen.

Both Kostiuk and Sailer are not sure why there has been a decrease in teammates.

“We did come in with a lot of guys and there is really no one reason.  We have such a good program here and it is tough to find room for everybody,” Sailer said. “There has also been some instances where guys just had to move on for certain reasons.”

While being the only two seniors may be a burden for some, Sailer said that it’s not that bad.

“I don’t mind being the only two. The only thing is there is a lot of pressure put on you to show good leadership,” Sailer said. “Both Ty and I have been around here for awhile, so we know how to handle being the only seniors.”

Kostiuk said he likes being able to be in the leadership role, answering questions and helping the younger players.

Head coach Steve Freeman believes both players have developed and become very capable leaders.

“Tyler and Jared have matured into true team players who understand the dynamics of successful teams,” Freeman said. “They now see the importance of everyone contributing something to the cause. They realize that accepting a role is a true key. That is why they have grown into leaders.”

Sailer is a captain along with juniors AJ Bucchino and TJ Dahl, and Kostiuk leads the team with his work ethic on and off the ice.

This season, the Falcons have had one of the best starts in recent history, but Sailer remembers the team going to the national tournament his freshman year. This season the players are hoping to reach that point again.

The Falcons lost the first game of the season against UW-Eau Claire, but have won seven straight games since then.

“The season this year has been going very well,” Sailer said. “We had a little bump in the road against Eau Claire and since than, we have been getting better every game.”

Kostiuk agreed.

“We have played consistent throughout the season so far,” Kostiuk said. “We have a very strong team that is deep and has what it takes to really do some damage throughout the season.”

Kostiuk will be graduating in May and is currently unsure of what he is going to do following his days of Falcon hockey.

“I am going to eventually take over my dad’s business with my two brothers,” Kostiuk said. “I have not yet decided whether I will do that next year or go for my masters degree first.”

Sailer will not graduate until this summer or next December, and is not sure what he will do following graduation. He may continue to live in the United States, but he knows that eventually he would like to get back to Canada.

Both Kostiuk and Sailer said they will miss being around their teammates and hanging out in the locker room when they hang up their Falcon jerseys for the final time. Until then, they are going to be giving their all on the ice.

This weekend Kostiuk, Sailer and the rest of the Falcons will take to the ice for a tough weekend against Lake Forest on Friday night and St. Norbert on Saturday. Both games will begin at 7:05 p.m.

The Falcons, ranked sixth in Div. III, will have their hands full with St. Norbert on Saturday night. Norbert is first in Div. III.

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