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Men’s hockey wins two over weekend

November 16, 2006

Saturday night was a scary time for the UW-River Falls men’s hockey team, coaching staff and especially for junior Chris Robinson.

In the second period of the game against St. John’s University, Robinson was checked from behind and went head first into the boards.

“It was kind of a combination of [the hit and an awkward fall],” Robinson said. “It was more of awkward. It was kind of freaky. I have a strained neck, but could probably play on Friday night. It’s the decision of the trainer and the coach.”

Robinson was on the ice for 15-20 minutes before being taken off the ice. He was placed on a stretcher and was put in a neck brace as a safety precaution.

“We were all just hoping for the best and we were behind him 100 percent,” junior Jim Henkemeyer said.

Henkemeyer said the turning point for the game was probably when Robinson was taken off the ice.

The game was tied at 1-1 when Robinson went down with the injury and the Falcons battled back, overcoming the adversity of the evening to beat the visiting St. John’s Johnnies 4-1.

In the first period, the Falcons fell behind when the Johnnies’ Matt Wocken scored the first goal at 7:18. Before the period was over, Falcon freshman Mitch Kerns scored at 10:43 to tie up the game at 1-1.

The Johnnies killed off the five minute major penalty resulting from the checking from behind incident, but River Falls scored quickly after that.

At 17:03 in the second period, senior Tyler Kostiuk picked up his second goal in as many nights to give the Falcons a 2-1 lead going into the final intermission.

In the third period, sophomore Derek Hansberry added a little cushion for the Falcons at 7:55 when he scored, putting UWRF up by two.

With less than five minutes left in the game, junior Jim Jensen capped off the scoring with his first career goal in a Falcon uniform. Jensen’s shot from the point clinked off the pipe and went in to solidify the 4-1 victory.

AJ Bucchino had 30 saves in the win for the Falcons, while opposing goaltender Vince Wheeler had 24 saves. 

Saturday’s game was the Falcons fifth win in a row, bringing the team’s overall season record to 5-1.

St John’s played very competitively on Saturday night.

“They’re favored to win MIAC,” head hockey coach Steve Freeman said. “They’ve got a lot of speed and come with a lot of tradition. All these games are comparison games when it comes to the end of the season.”

Comparison games are used to determine at large bids at the end of the season for the NCHA tournaments.

Friday’s game against Augsburg College was back and forth and the Falcons had to battle for the win.

Falcons TJ Dahl and Pat Borgestad both scored in about a 10 minute span to give the team a 2-0 lead. However, it was a lead the Falcons didn’t keep for long. In the final four minutes of the first period, Shawn Bakke and Tom Doyle both scored to tie the game at two goals apiece going into the second period.

In the second period, Kostiuk and Henkmeyer both scored to give the Falcons a two-goal lead once again. With 16:42 gone in the second period, Brett Way scored to bring Augsburg to within one.

At 7:40 of the final period, Dan Leapold scored the tying goal for Augsburg. The Auggies managed to remain tied with the Falcons for about 10 minutes before Dahl scored the game-winning goal with 3:24 remaining.

Bucchino made 22 saves in the win, while the Auggies’ Adam Hendel picked up 19 saves.

Freeman said he thought the Falcons didn’t play well in the win at Augsburg.

“We just won on our talent,” Freeman said. “We made a lot of mistakes and that got us in trouble. We kept battling and taking leads.”

Neither team was taken lightly going into the weekend.

“St. John’s is definitely a better team,” Henkemeyer said. “We obviously knew it was going to be a battle.”

This Friday night, the Falcons travel to Eau Claire to take on the Blugolds and will be on the road again Saturday night to take on the UW-Stevens Point Pointers.

“Being on a five game winning streak is very positive,” Freeman said. “We’re progressing along. I think we’re right on track to where we need to be.”

This is the first time in the young season that both weekend games will keep the Falcons on the road.

Henkemeyer said that it should be a test to see how the Falcons do on the road, because the Falcons have not been playing the best in the opposing arena.

Robinson said goaltending by Bucchino has been key in how the team has done in the first six games.

“We have a great goaltender,” Robinson said. “He’s been coming up big, but everybody on the team has a role.”

The game against the Blugolds should be a test for the Falcons. Eau Claire is the only team to beat River Falls so far this season, beating the Falcons 3-2 in the season opener.

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