Hansberry closes in on scoring record
February 19, 2009
It was four years ago when Derek Hansberry, co-captain of the UW-River Falls men’s hockey team, was mulling over the decision to continue his hockey career.
The Arvada, Colo. native made a last minute choice to attend UWRF and play for the Falcon hockey team. There he has become one of the elite goal scorers in the programs history and his 74 career goals are five goals away from breaking the school record for career goals of 78 set by Brian Wilson in the 1993-97 seasons and Mike Kelly in 1980-84.
“I almost didn’t come to River Falls,” Hansberry said. “God no, I never thought I would end up playing here. It was a last second decision in August to come here. At the time I thought it was Div. I hockey or done. Never realized how good the competition was in the area.”
When Hansberry arrived on campus, he said he was unsure if he was going to make the team, let alone become an elite scorer.
“I never thought I would do as well as I did,” Hansberry said. “I came to the team with a lot of great players, which really helped. I also played on some great lines, which has helped me become a better leader, especially this year.”
The Falcons have had a down year, finishing sixth in the highly competetive NCHA conference.
UWRF lost to rival UW-Stout this past Friday 6-5, despite scoring four goals in the first period.
It will play the College of St. Scholastica (CSS) in the first round of the NCHA Peter’s Cup on Friday in Duluth, Minn.
With 16 goals in the regular season, Hansberry has had another stellar season and has been one of the few bright spots offensively for UWRF. He also has nine assists, which puts him at 25 points for the season and 131 for his career.
His 74 goals is currently fourth all-time and 131 points is 12th in school history, but as far as goals go, it is something that he has thought about, however, not as much as the success of the team.
“It has been on the back of my mind,” he said. “I keep it on the back burner though. I just care about how the team does.”
If and when career goal number 79 were to come, Hansberry said he wishes it would come in an important game at an important time.
“I hope I score it in a big way,” he said. “An overtime goal or one that wins a playoff game would be a good way [to break the record].”
Head Coach Steve Freeman, who is in his 13th season, said Hansberry is the perfect player UWRF could have.
“He’s the consummate Falcon,” Freeman said. “The perfect role model you want to have on your team. His work ethic has been among the best during his career here. His off-ice training is noticed by everybody and it shows on the ice. He continues to be a bright spot on offense and has been that way since he got here. When he gets opportunities to score, he usually puts them away.”
There is more to Hansberry than just a hockey player, Freeman said.
“He does a lot of great things outside of hockey to make the school proud,” he said. “Derek is an excellent student. He does the right things all the time. He’s a leader on and off the ice. Just a wonderful guy to be around and wonderful to have him in your life. Everything he has done here, you just have to thank him.”
The past three years the Falcon captain has earned WIAC academic honors, along with two NCHA All-Academic team awards.
For Hansberry, the start of the season went a little slow in the goal scoring department. It was not until the fourth game of the season when he tallied his first goal of the season in a 6-4 loss to Gustavus Adolphus College (Minn.).
“He was a snake-bitten a bit at the start,” Freeman said. “When he got things going the whole team started to play better.”
Freshman Ben Beaudoin said he has become a better player being on the first line power play because Hansberry makes everyone around him better.
“Being able to play on the same line with him helps you become a better player,” he said. “You learn a lot by playing with him. He’s a huge part of the team and the success of it. He’s been one of the leading goal scorers since he has been here and is the leading scorer now. He just makes things happen when he’s out there [on the ice].”
The Falcon scoring leader kept plugging away, shooting at will and continued the style of play that has put him near the top of UWRF’s best goal scorers.
“You just have to keep putting pucks on the net,” Hansberry said. “As a player, you have to have a mindset that they will go in eventually.”
In the 2005-06 season, Hansberry had his best season statistically, when he scored 19 goals and 19 assists and was named the team’s most valuable player.
If the record goal does or national championship does not come it does not mean Hansberry’s career is incomplete. He said it is important for UWRF to play well in the postseason, and for him, a career is already special with all the people that have entered Hunt Arena as a Falcon.
“We just have to make sure we play hard and do our best with a few games to go”, he said. “It’s an honor to have played here. A lot of great players and people have been a part of this program. To have your name mentioned with their’s is something special.”
Hansberry and the rest of the Falcons will play at CSS in the quarterfinal round of the NCHA Peter’s Cup playoffs this Friday and Saturday.
The teams split the season series winning a game apiece. UWRF won its first game of the season 6-3 at Hunt Arena on No. 14. Hansberry had two goals that game.
CSS got revenge on Jan. 24, when Saints forward A.J. Tucker saved a clearing attempt by Falcon goalie Stephan Ritter. Tucker attempted a pass to his teammate at the front of the net an unfortunately for the Falcons, it hit off their own defenseman and got past Ritter.
If UWRF is able to win its series, it would advance to the semifinals on Feb. 28. The NCHA championship game is scheduled for March 7.