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Opinion

Lack of focus shows on ice

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November 29, 2007

“I play when I want to play.” Many sports fans know these words; New England Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss made them famous during an interview. The words that made Moss famous seem to have meaning today right here in River Falls. This may apply to the Falcon men’s hockey team through their first nine games of the season.

The Falcons have a lot of talent on their team and, with the exception of goaltender, have an experienced team. When it comes down to the end of the year the Falcons will be in the hunt to get a NCAA tournament berth. However, right now there seems to be some glaring warning signs about this team.

Although the Falcons have a very good 5-1-3 record, they’ve seemed to have an on/off switch. The Falcons have put together complete games this season. One can look at the Northland game where the Falcons dump trucked the Lumberjacks 9-2. Then, they can point at the 7-0 win over Augsburg. However, if you look just one day ahead, the Falcons have struggled putting a complete game together.

The Falcons played Gustavus Adolphus a night after shutting out Augsburg. The Falcons raced out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. Then came the second period. Granted, there was a delay in the intermission for Parents Night, the Falcons scored two more goals to take a 4-0 lead and suddenly, there seemed to be a lack of concentration as the game got closer than it should have been with the Falcons hanging on for a 6-5 win.

On Nov. 16, the Falcons played at St. Scholastica in what some would say was a revenge game. St. Scholastica was the team that knocked the Falcons out of the NCHA playoffs last year, so one would expect the Falcons to come out like a house on fire. After two periods the Falcons skated to a 3-3 tie. Then came the afterburner when they scored three goals in the third to win the game 6-3.

Next, the Falcons played conference rival Superior. The Falcons wound up playing Superior’s grind-it-out style and were winning 3-2 after 2 periods. Usually known for their high octane offensive the Falcons fell short and looked more like turtles hiding in their shells and it eventually cost them a point as a bouncing puck found it’s way past Tyler Owens and the Falcons settled for a tie.

I’m not done with these examples. Nov. 20, the Falcons took on St. Mary’s as the number 1 team in the nation, according to the USCHO division III poll. A weak St. Mary’s squad should not have been able to hang around the Falcons. However, the players could have been dreaming of turkey and stuffing as they fell behind 4-1 early in the third period. Turn on the switch. The Falcons out shot St.

Mary’s 28-6 in the third to come back and tie a team they should have destroyed.

The lackluster play continued last night when the Falcons took on St. Thomas. Apparently, somebody cut the power all together as the Falcons were shutout for the first time since February 17, 2006 (1-0 loss to Stout). The Falcons looked like they played hard in this game and the puck just didn’t go in their favor, however, seeing the previous Falcons games, you’d expect a switch to come on.

The Falcons have looked good at times this season, and like I said before, they will be in contention come February. However, this stretch of games needs to be a wakeup call for the Falcons. They can’t continue to simply flip on a switch when they need it especially, with NCHA play starting to unfold. As former Minnesota Vikings punter Greg Coleman said “Boys, it’s time to kill a mosquito with an ax.”

Chris Schad is a student at UW-River Falls.