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Women’s hockey team looks forward to next season

March 8, 2007

They fell just one point short of taking the NCHA regular season championship. UW-Superior finished with 21 points, but the Falcons had the tie-breaker so the team would have won it had it earned gotten just one more point.

“You can’t get any closer than that,” Head Coach Joe Cranston said.

The Falcons finished the regular season with an overall record of 14-7-4, also the teams highest winning percentage since 2003-04.

Besides team accomplishments, individual Falcons also achieved many accomplishments. Cranston was named the NCHA Coach of the Year and senior goalie Amber Lindner was named the NCHA Player of the Year.

Lindner, defender Jenny Wallace and forward Jenna Scanlon were named first-team All-NCHA. Forwards Cassie LeBlanc and Stefanie Schmitz, along with defender Jessie Dyslin earned honorable mention.

Cranston is the only coach in the team’s eight-year history and has led the team to more wins than any other current coach in the league. He said this team one of his favorites in his career as a coach.

“This was a very special year and a great group of players to coach,” Cranston said. “I will always have a deep respect for this team and these players.”
Cranston said he gives a lot of credit to his team for his second NCHA Coach of the Year honor.

“It’s not an honor to me, it’s an honor to the girls who worked unbelievably hard every day to accomplish all that we did with a roster of 13 skaters and 3 goalies,” Cranston said. “They are the reason I received the award.”

The NCHA Tournament didn’t go according to plan for the Falcons, but they played hard. They lost the opening game 3-2 in overtime to Steven’s Point and then lost the third place game 5-4 to Lake Forest.

“They were tough losses to take, but we played Steven’s Point into overtime and it was anyone’s game and we out-shot Lake Forest 67-21. What more can I ask of my team?” Cranston said. “The losses take nothing away from these girls or this special team.”

It was a tough blow to the tight-knit group who believed they had what it took to win the tournament and make it to the NCAA Tournament.

“The team was pretty upset afterwards, knowing our season was over. We had such a great group of people that it is sad to see it end,” Lindner said. “We all wish there was more.”
Lindner is the third Falcon to be named the NCHA Player of the year. She finished the regular season with an 11-7-4 record, a 1.79 goals against average and .928 save percentage.

“The best part of it is that I didn’t expect it at all,” Lindner said. “It’s an awesome way to end my hockey career.”

Lindner and Wallace will be the only seniors graduating. Next year’s team will consist of eight seniors, making for a well-balanced combination of young talent and experienced leadership.

Three of the four leading scorers for the Falcons this season were freshmen including LeBlanc, who led the team with 25 points.

Though she won’t be back to see it, Lindner said she believes the team will perform wonders next season, and Cranston agrees.

“I expect, that if this team’s heart carries over into next season, we will be one of the best teams in the country, not just the NCHA,” Cranston said.