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Scanlon grows into her role as playmaker

February 8, 2007

Head Coach Joe Cranston played a significant part in turning Scanlon into the player she is today and helping her get over the freshman hurdle.

“My freshman year I was very timid and used to hold back a lot, but he pushed me to reach my full potential as a hockey player,” Scanlon said.

Scanlon started to bloom late in her freshman season to finish with six points in 25 games played. Last season she recorded a team-high 13 goals, good for eighth in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA). She recorded three goals in a game for the only hat trick of the season for the Falcons, and she received honorable mention on the All-NCHA team.

Her abilities as a player have grown even more this season. She is currently second on the team in goals with 9, assists with 8 and total points with 17. She is tied for seventh in the NCHA in goals and eighth in total points. Among her nine goals she has two game-tying goals and one game-winner.

This season, she has grown from being primarily a goal scorer to being an all-around offensive threat. Great athletes add a new weapon to their arsenal each season. This season Scanlon has made it a priority to get her teammates more involved and her statistics prove it. As a sophomore she tallied three assists.

This season she already has eight assists with five games still to play in the regular season.

“I get just as excited when I set up one of my teammates for a score as I am when I put the puck in the net myself,” Scanlon said.

“She uses everyone on the ice to make things happen,” teammate Kacie Anderson said. “She is a leader by example out there when she is playing.”

Scanlon said she feels one of her greatest strengths as a player is her ability to pass and set up her teammates for goals, and her coach agrees.

In a game against Bethel on Jan. 6, Scanlon made an assist that got rave reviews from her coach.

“[It was] the nicest pass ever set up by a player wearing a women’s hockey uniform,” Cranston said.

Scanlon plays a very exhausting position that requires size, strength and the guts to absorb some hard hits.

“With my size, strength and reach, I frustrate the other teams in the offensive zone; and because of that, I take a lot of physical punishment,” Scanlon said.

Scanlon’s blue-collar work ethic and commitment to the team are what makes her a great leader in a young group that recently graduated three of its top scorers during the off-season.

“I realized that this season I needed to step up my game and show leadership on the ice through my play,” Scanlon said.

“She battles as hard as any player I have ever coached,” Cranston said. “She sets a great example as to what it takes every time she steps on the ice.”

Keeping the puck in the offensive zone and winning the battles in the corners and in front of the net has been a very integral part of the Falcons’ success this season. Scanlon has played a significant role in making that happen for the first-place Falcons.

She is an example of how far hard work and determination can take you in life. Her play has been a pleasant surprise for her coach, who never knew that she would become this kind of force.

“She is an awesome kid who is very dedicated to the success of our team,” Cranston said. “She has been one of our most improved players over the past two and a half years and that is a direct result of hard work.”

Scanlon attended Apple Valley High School in Minnesota. She made varsity as just a seventh-grader, giving her six years of high school eligibility. As a junior she helped lead her team to a third-place finish in the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament and was named to the all-tournament team.

Scanlon was also named to the all-state team, all-conference team and was her team’s most valuable player her junior season.

Much of her influence to play hockey came from her three brothers and father.

“My dad has always believed in me and always told me to shoot, go to the net and just have fun,” Scanlon said.

Her brother, Andy, played goalie for the Falcons men’s hockey team from 2003-06. He was named the team’s most valuable player during the 2003-04 season.

Choosing to attend UW-River Falls was an easy decision for Scanlon. She said she loves the hockey facilities, the campus and the small class sizes. She is majoring in speech communications with a minor in professional writing.

Scanlon has hit her stride at just the right time for the surging Falcons. Last weekend they battled to a 2-2 tie against the then-conference leader Superior. The next night they beat Finlandia to move ahead of Superior and take first place in the NCHA. Scanlon enjoyed one of her best weekends as a Falcon, tallying five points in the two games. She has twice been named the Falcons Player of the Week in January.

The Falcons stand at 11-5-4 overall and 7-2-2 in the NCHA with five games to go in the regular season. The conference title should come down to the last weekend of the regular season when the Falcons host second-place Superior for two games.

“Our team has really come together this last half of the season,” Scanlon said. “We all have our hearts set on winning our conference and making it to the Frozen Four, and we believe in each other.”