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Men’s hockey team welcomes new assistant coach

November 7, 2007

The weather is getting colder and the walk to class is becoming more of a pain. Looking out the window at 5 p.m. reveals a depressing dark that always comes too early. Welcome the hostile takeover as the hooded sweatshirts flood the campus. It’s hockey season at UW-River Falls.

Following the departure of All-American goaltender AJ Bucchino to the professional ranks last spring, the Falcon hockey coaching staff has gone to great lengths to address the vacancy between the pipes.

With a stable of athletes competing for the chance to fill the void, the Falcons also brought in the additional experience of coach Paul Frank to the coaching staff.

Following a four-year stay at UW-Stout, where his duties included coaching both defensemen and goaltenders, as well as recruiting players, Frank and his family decided to make a new home for themselves in the Woodbury area. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for the Falcons.

Looking for a change, the opportunity to join the Falcon hockey staff given to him by head coach Steve Freeman was an excellent fit for the former Division I goalie.

The change of scenery has allowed Frank to be a part of what he considers to be a program that is run professionally, and he is excited for the chance to make coaching contributions, especially welcomed opportunities to add insight.

Between the pipes, Frank enjoyed a four-year career at Colorado College, highlighted by WCHA Championships in 1994 and 1995, as well as being named to the WCHA All-Academic team.

Frank considers winning his first collegiate game in overtime at North Dakota to be his favorite hockey memory. This season his knowledgeable experience will be put to use preparing the stable of Falcon goaltenders for their own collegiate wins.

There are some considerably big shoes to fill when replacing an athlete as successful as former Falcon goaltender Bucchino, but up to the challenge are three athletes under the close and personal guidance of Frank.

Each player is different in his own way, but all are fighting to shine brighter than the others in the eyes of the coaching staff.

The introductions of these student athletes will begin with the only returning goaltender from last year’s Falcon team, sophomore Matt Page, from New Richmond, Wis., who is back for his second season in goal after being voted Most Improved Player by his teammates last year.

Frank had positive thoughts on Page.

“He brings a great attitude to the team,” Frank said. “He’s a good team player and a fundamentally sound goalie with a tremendous work ethic.”

Sophomore Tyler Owens, a Detroit, Mich., native transferred to UWRF this year from SUNY-Fredonia, in Fredonia, New York, where he saw action in net as a freshman last season.

“He’s played in a few college games,” Frank said. “He brings in a bit of experience, good energy, and works hard.”

Rounding out the stable is freshman Clark Oliver, from San Diego, Cali. In his first year of college hockey Oliver is making a smooth transition from juniors.

“He brings good athleticism to the position,” Frank said. “And he wants to learn.”

The new coach also extends his contributions towards the forwards on the team. During pre-game warm-ups Frank scouts the opposing team’s goaltender to spot weaknesses as a benefit to his goal-scorers.

A recent example of this occurred last Friday night when the Falcons took on Augsburg College at home. Something spotted by Frank was made aware by him, and the result was Patrick Borgestad’s third goal on the year.

“After warm-ups Coach Frank told me to shoot five hole,” Borgestad said. “He said be patient, look for the opening, it’ll be there.”

The Falcon coaches expressed only the most positive thoughts regarding the addition of Frank.

“We feel very fortunate to have such a qualified individual who knows goaltending join our program,” Freeman said. “Our goalies have a great deal of respect for his expertise, and he provides the personal touch and support they need as well as suggestions toward improvement.”

The question on the mind of every Falcon hockey fan is what is being done to replace the empty net at Hunt Arena. Getting Frank to train the prospective netminders is the answer.

“Whoever is in the nets for us is going to be ready to play,” Frank said. “And it’s my job to get them ready to play.”

The 3-0 Falcons take on the St. Olaf Oles, who are 1-1, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. in Hunt Arena.