Women’s hockey adds depth, fresh faces at goaltender
November 1, 2007
Falcon women’s hockey is starting this weekend and is ready tomake its run at the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association tournament.
The Falcons came close last year, but lost in the semifinals to UWStevens Point before losing their final game to Lake Forest. They finished the season with a record of 9-4-2 in the NCHA and 14-9-4 overall.
Head coach Joe Cranston said the team’s goal this year is “pretty much to win our conference and get in the national tournament.”
One of the biggest obstacles for the Falcons to overcome is the loss of goalie Amber Lindner to graduation. Lindner was the NCHA Player of the Year in 2007 and was named to the All-NCHA Team in 2004 and 2007.
Replacing her in the goal will be freshman Cassi Campbell, junior Katie Kantrud and senior Mandi Mohwinkel.
Campbell is an Anchorage, Alaska, native and played for the Toronto Rattlers before coming to UW-River Falls. She also played for Team Alaska that won the Alaska State Championship in 2006.
Cranston has not decided who will start yet, but said he knows the team will be good in the goal.
Other freshmen that should have a large role this year are forwards Ashly Berner, Jessica Thompson and Jamie Briski.
“Anytime two or three of those kids were out together on the ice, something clicks,” Cranston said. “In the alumni game they had more chances to score than any other line.”
There are 12 freshmen on the team, which is contrasted by seven seniors.
Cranston said the number of seniors this year “is more than double of past years. I look for all seven to play a big part.”
This being their last year has given some extra motivation.
“Our heart’s really in it [this year]. It’s now or never for us,” said senior forward and captain Kelly Jensen.
Jensen, along with senior forward Jenna Scanlon are the team’s captains this year.
“We have to do something this year and this is our best chance to go,” said senior defender Renae Bergh.
This could be the year for them, with a powerful combination of youth and experience.
Cranston said “our biggest obstacle last year was depth, and we have the depth this year [because of the freshmen]. I don’t know if we have a weakness yet—I haven’t seen one.”
The freshmen could definitely be the difference maker this year. Others include defensemen Bailey Vikstrom, Kayleigh Bell and Lauren Conrad, and forwards Chelsea Nelson and Brittany Erickson.
“There are a pretty good number of freshmen that are better than all of us,” Bergh said. “It’s the best freshman class I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
Other returning players include sophomore forwards Cassie LeBlanc, Stefanie Schmitz and Abby Sunderman who were all in the top four goal scorers for the Falcons last year.
Even with strong players up and down the lineup, Cranston said his expectations for the players are always the same.
“[If we] outwork every team we play, everything else will fall into place,” Cranston said.
The Falcons first game is 7:05 Nov. 3 at the College of St. Catherine.