Men’s hockey searches for victory
November 6, 2008
The UW-River Falls men’s hockey team is 0-1-1 after a 4-4 tie against Marian University on Oct. 24 and a 2-0 loss to Hamline University (Minn.) on Oct. 31.
In the season opener against Marian at Hunt Arena, UWRF had a 3-1 lead late in the second period, only to have it disappear in the third. The Falcons tied the game in the closing minutes as Jaime Ruff scored his first goal for the Falcons with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left in the final period.
Ruff was alone in the slot as Ben Beaudoin fired a pass to him from the corner. Ruff appeared to fan on the shot, but after the game said his stick broke on the shot and fooled Marian goaltender Jason Jadczak, who finished the game with 43 saves on 47 shots.
“I just whacked away at it and broke my stick, but it went in somehow,” Ruff said of his goal. “As long as it goes in itís a goal.”
UWRF Head Coach Steve Freeman said the goal was important for his club.
“It’s big in getting us out of here with a tie,” Freeman said. “You obviously want to win them all and this game feels like a loss, but it’s important for us to get out of here with a tie.”
UWRF started the game with hard fore-checking, putting constant pressure on the Marian defense and forcing them into errant passes. One of them led to a failed clearing attempt where Ruff saved the puck from leaving the Marian zone. He passed the puck to Beaudoin who took a shot from the left face-off dot.
Jadczak made the save but UWRF’s Andrew Harrison was crashing the net and put away the rebound for his first collegiate goal.
After Marian tied the game late in the first, UWRF took the lead less than a minute later as Sean Roadhouse saved the puck from clearing the Sabre zone. He skated to the right face-off circle and fired a shot low stick side to beat Jadczak.
Pressure again on Marian defensemen resulted in the Falcons Tyler Czuba taking a loose puck from Marian’s blue line, where he skated in alone for a breakaway and fired a shot in the upper right corner, beating Jadczak on his glove side.
Roles were reversed in the third period with Marian controlling most of the play early. Sabres forward Lane Boswell scored 3 minutes, 32 seconds into the period, which gave Marion the jolt it needed to keep the puck in the Falcon zone for most of the period.
Adam Freeman broke the 3-3 tie after deflecting a shot from the point by Nick Cinquegrani. Marian held the lead until Ruffís goal.
Despite out shooting the Sabres 47-29, the Falcons let Marian back in the game and did not close them out, Freeman said.
“When teams come into this building, they’re excited to play us,” Freeman said. “When you let teams hang around, they will get you and that’s what we did. They got better as the game went on and we didn’t.”
Senior captain Derek Hansberry, who has been an All-NCHA player since his freshman season, said the final score was not what he was looking for.
“Obviously I’m a little disappointed.” he said. “They did come out a little harder and we kind of sat back on our lead,” he said. “You never want to do that in hockey. You see it all the time as teams come back when they are down.”
After the game, Freeman said he was not happy about UWRF’s play in its own zone.
“We played real loose in front of our own net and they got a few goals that way,” Freeman said. “We have to clean up our defensive zone.”
Of the four goals, three were scored by freshmen Harrison, Roadhouse and Ruff. Freeman said he thought they played well, but have to keep errors down to a minimum.
“They played pretty well. Their first college game, they played with a lot of energy,” he said. “Too many mistakes, but that is what will happen early in the season and it’s [the coaches] job to work with them.”
The following week the Falcons played the defending Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions, the Hamline Pipers and lost 2-0 at Drake Arena.
Freshman Chris Giebe took an interference penalty just one minute, six seconds into the game. The MIAC’s defending scoring leader from last season, Dustin Fulton scored four seconds later on a backdoor pass from Piper forward Andrew Birkholz.
Hamline put away the Falcons for good in the third with Kyle Kurr scoring on the power play, as Josh Meyers sat in the penalty box for elbowing midway through the third.
Kurr took the puck from the left wing boards and brought it to the slot where he was not guarded and ripped a shot past goaltender Bo Storozuk.
He faced 31 shots, and the Pipers had nine power plays and put 18 shots on goal during the man advantages.
“I think our goaltending was outstanding tonight,” Freeman said of Storozuk.
In the end, it was Hamline’s experienced power play that got the best of UWRF, Freeman said.
“They have all their top players on the power play from their team last season, which was one of the best in the nation last season,” he said. “We took too many penalties to give ourselves a chance to win and you’re not going to win when you’re in the box all night.”
When the Falcons had pressure in the Hamline zone, they did not put together too many scoring chances. The Piper defense shut down passing lanes.
“They took care of business in front of their net and our power play wasn’t working,” Freeman said. It’s still a work in progess.”
UWRF’s next game is on Friday Nov. 7 against St. Olaf College (Minn.) at Hunt Arena. The following night it will be at Gustavus Adolphus College (Minn.).