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Up close with the Falcon seniors

December 13, 2007

Fall brings many beautiful things; changing leaves, warm breezes and most importantly to the Falcon hockey team, screaming fans. You can tell it’s hockey season by the cheers coming from Hunt Arena. Every year at the end of October the men’s Falcon hockey team suits up for opening weekend. They never know if they’re going to win or lose but one thing is always the same: the deafening crowd. This season seven men’s hockey players will be hearing those raucous crowd for the last time.

Defensive captain Jim Henkemeyer, is from St. Cloud, Minn. He is the son of Mike and Pat and has two older sisters, Katie and Abby. Henkemeyer is a marketing communications major with a speech communications minor and will be graduating in May of 2008. Although he is undecided in a career, Jim said he would like to work with people. After graduation he would like to try to play professional hockey.

Henkemeyer has really enjoyed meeting new people at River Falls and notes his greatest hockey accomplishment as making the All-American team last year. For his last year, Henkemeyer hopes to win the NCHA championship and try for the playoffs and the frozen four this season.

“Henkemeyer has come a long way. He runs the power play and shoots really well,” Ritzer said.

Jason Usher is from Eden Prairie, Minn. Jason and his sister Amanda are Dave and Randi’s only children. At River Falls, Jason is double majoring in psychology and business administration. He chose UWRF because of the hockey program and the psychology professors he met when he visited campus. He notes one of his best memories here as having the opportunity to experience Europe with the International Traveling Classroom during spring semester 2007.

“My greatest hockey accomplishment would have to be balancing hockey and school,” Usher said.

After graduation in May 2008, Usher plans to go to graduate school to study law or psychology. His ultimate goal is to “have financial freedom and stability to travel the world.”

“Usher is a talented defenseman who moves the puck,” Ritzer said.

Jim Jensen, is an aggressive defenseman. His parents, Dianne and Jim have three sons, Jim, Tom and Robby. Jensen, a journalism major and film studies minor. After this year, Jensen hopes to continue to play hockey. In the future, he would like to have a career making Hollywood movies. He notes his greatest off ice accomplishment as being a role model for his brothers.

He also has high hopes for the Falcons this year.

“Obviously, I’d like to see us playing at the end of the season,” he said.

Jensen came to River Falls after playing two years of Div. I hockey. One at Ferris State and the other at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He credits fellow senior, Pat Borgestad, and the coaching staff for his decision to transfer.

Ritzer said, “Jensen in a hardnosed, gritty defenseman with tons of experience.”

Wade Harstad, son of Mark and Carla, has two brothers. Harstad is from Moorhead, Minn. He is a bio-medical science major.

Coach Ritzer made the comment that, “Harstad is one of the fastest player in the NCHA.”

Fairbanks, Alaska native Chad Georgell is the son of Gary and Nancy Georgell and has two brothers, Scott and Chris. Georgell is a health and human performance major with a minor in business administration. After graduation this spring, Georgell would like to go to graduate school for kinesiology or business management.

This season is Georgell’s second season with the Falcons, though not consecutively. After spending his whole hockey career in Alaska, Georgell decided he wanted to “get out and see the world.” He started his collegiate hockey career at Michigan Tech after which he played his first year with the Falcons and then spent a year at Augsburg College.

Georgell notes his greatest non-hockey accomplishment as making the dean’s list. His ultimate goals include “being successful in a career, having a good family and being able to support my parents when they retire.” In the future, Georgell would like to own his own company and maybe coach college hockey.

“Georgell is a great defensive player and student,” said Ritzer.

Falcon captain TJ Dahl is the oldest of Todd and Nancy Dahl’s three sons, Brady and Brett round out the Dahl family. Dahl is originally from Apple Valley, Minn. He is a business administration major with an emphasis in finance and will graduate in May of 2008. He is unsure of his plans for after graduation but would like to pursue hockey or start a career.

Dahl’s greatest non-hockey accomplishment has been making the dean’s list his first couple years of college, after being out of school, playing junior hockey for two years. Dahl notes his greatest achievement playing for River Falls has been being named captain.

“I’ve never been that go to guy before,” he said. “It’s awesome. I want to take advantage of it and live up to it.”

In the future, he would like to settle down in the suburbs, maybe work for his dad and take his kid(s) to hockey games.

“Family is valued number one,” Dahl said.

“Dahl is a very talented player. He loves the game,” Ritzer said.

Pat Borgestad is the son of Becky and Bob and has two brothers, one sister and a son, Brady. He is from St. Paul, Minn. Borgestad is a health and human performance major. Borgestad is trying to get a medical red shirt for next year to make up for his absence freshman year due to his knee surgery. If it goes through he will be eligible to play next year.

For the senior Falcons, this is the last year they will experience the roar of the crowd as they fight for the league championship and battle their way towards the national title. At the end of this season seven men will hang up their Falcon jerseys for the last time.

When asked what the seniors mean to the team Coach Steve Freeman said, “Their experience means a lot. They set examples for the younger players, which makes coaching easier.”

“The senior guys are probably the blood and guts of the operation,” Ritzer said. “The seniors are not only looked up to by the team but they are also respected by the league. It takes a very good player to make it all four years. They’ve done well with school and athletics.”

Coach Freeman thinks it will be pretty hard to replace such valuable players but it optimistic that some of the younger guys will step up to the plate.

“We’ll have to bring in quite a few new guys,” Freeman said.

Pat Borgestad and Wade Harstad were not available for comment.