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Stiff competition puts men’s hockey at 1-4-1 record

November 20, 2008

For the past two weekends the UW-River Falls men’s hockey team faced stiff competition and lost three of four games to put them at a record of 1-4-1.

Losses to St. Olaf College (Minn.) 3-1 and Gustavus Adolphus College (Minn.) 6-4 on Nov. 7 and 8 put the Falcons in a hole, but UWRF showed it can play with some of the top teams in the nation with a 6-3 win against the No. 15 ranked College of St. Scholastica on Nov. 14. UWRF lost the following night, 3-0 against No. 8 ranked UW-Superior.

“I think we showed that we can play with the best,” UWRF Head Coach Steve Freeman said after the game against St. Scholastica.

In its victory against UWRF, St. Olaf benefited from some odd bounces, the first coming in the second period when Isak Tranvik, a Div. I transfer from Quinnipiac University (Conn.), attempted a pass to the slot, but deflected off UWRF defenseman Bill Pinel and went in to give the Oles a 1-0 lead.

“Bill [Pinel] told me that it went off his stick, off his glove and off his skate than went in,” UWRF goalie Bo Storozuk said. “It was just another bad bounce for us.”

Josh Meyers scored early in the third on a low wrist shot to beat St. Olaf goalie Nick Krauss, who stopped 51 of 52 shots.

“He played out of his mind,” Freeman said. “We did shoot to his glove too often though.”

Tyler Czuba, Jamie Ruff and Nolan Craner had three breakaways for the Falcons, but Krauss stopped them all.

“I went in, took a shot and he got it with the knob of his stick,” Czuba said of his breakaway opportunity in the first period.

All three players attempted shots rather than trying to make a move on Krauss.

St. Olaf scored with less than two minutes in the third when Bryan Osmondson fished out the puck from a scrum in front of the net and shot it past Storozuk. The net appeared to have been knocked loose, but the referees ruled that the puck crossed the line before.

“There’s nothing you can do now,” Freeman said. “We don’t have the instant replays, so we have to deal with it.”

Among the chaos in front of the net, Storozuk was unaware of the net being knocked off.

“I don’t know if the net went off before or not,” Storozuk said. “There was a lot going on.”

Tranvik scored an empty net goal which made the final score 3-1.

UWRF took on Gustavus the following night where penalties where the major outcome in a 6-4 loss.

The Falcons had 13 penalties, which resulted in nine power plays for Gustavus. The Gusties capitalized on three of them.

“We are playing with a lot of intensity,” Freeman said. “But we need to control our emotions when we are on the road.”

The Gusties scored their power play goals at crucial times in the game when UWRF had momentum going.

“Quite a few penalties and we ran into a hot power play,” Falcon center Derek Hansberry said. “You don’t want to give a hot team more chances to score. They played well and their power play just killed us.”

The loss was UWRF’s third in a row, dropping them to 0-3-1.

“We are going through some tough growing pains right now,” Freeman said. “We have to learn from early mistakes.

The Falcons got their first victory of the season against St. Scholastica 6-3 on Nov. 14 and had big players step up in the most important game of the season.

Hansberry scored two goals, giving him three on the year. Czuba also scored twice and had an assist while Jordan McIntyre scored a goal and two assists.

“Our scorers came through for us,” Freeman said. “It was a big night for them.”

Stephan Ritter started for the first time since the season opener on Oct. 24 and stopped 34 shots.

“He played well for us down the stretch when we needed him to,” Freeman said.

Superior came into Hunt Arena the next evening and allowed only 20 shots and defeated UWRF 3-0.

A controversial goal came late in the first period when Superior’s Chris Wilson appeared to have knocked the puck in the Falcon net with a high stick.

Freeman looked at the tape Sunday morning and said it was clear that Wilson’s stick was too high.

Superior goalie Chad Beiswenger had 20 saves as his team improved to 7-1-0 overall and 2-0-0 in the NCHA.

The loss dropped the Falcons to 1-4-1, but they are only one game behind in the NCHA.

“We still have to find our identity,” Freeman said. “When we do I think we will be right there.”