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Hockey teams anticipate upcoming year

October 29, 2009

The men’s hockey team started its season off on a high note with a 10-1 win over Concordia University Oct. 24, setting the tempo for the season. With the men’s season started, and the women’s team scheduled to begin their season Nov. 6 at St. Thomas, the hockey season is upon UW-River Falls.

The men’s team is coming off a mediocre season, with a record of 10- 15-2, which was the team’s first losing season since 1991-92, a 17-year span.

Head Coach Steve Freeman, the coach of the team since 1996, looks to put up the winning numbers that the rest of his teams have seen.

“We would like to be one of the top teams in the NCHA,” he said. “That would get us good position in the playoffs.”

Though the team is a young team, it gained some needed experience from last year. The Falcons only lost eight players last year. They are also experiencing some help from some new players as well.

Freeman said he is looking for help from new players in every position on the team.

Defensively, Brady Horn helps on the power play, he said. Another player who should help offensively is Justin Brossman, a transfer from Alaska-Fairbanks. The team expects some competition in the NCHA , the league that both the men and women play in outside the WIAC.

“The league is extremely tight,” Freeman said. “Even the top teams will have their fair share of losses.”

In the Falcons’ first win, ten different players had goals in the game.

The women’s hockey team looks to start its season on the same note. After going to the frozen four last year, the team looks to continue its success into this season. Women’s Head Coach Joe Cranston said that the team needs to take the season one game at a time.

“It’s easier to get to the top, then stay at the top,” he said. “Last year, we had an up and down, rollercoaster season.”

Co-captain Stefanie Schmitz also has similar logic with her coach.

“Our team should be good this year, but our biggest goal this year is to work hard and not let the rankings affect how we play,” she said.

The team is an experienced one, with only two players not returning from last year.

“Last year we had a learning curve,” Cranston said. “This year we are older and smarter.”

The team is also getting some new help this year from recruits.

Alyssa Jackson and Alyssa Black are two forwards that will “contribute right away,” Cranston said. Overall, there are five players that are new to the team.

The other cocaptain, Abby Sunderman, said she thinks highly of the new recruits.

“All five of them are really bright kids, and we’re lucky to have such a strong freshmen class,” she said.

The women look to perform strong in the NCHA this year; they were first in the conference a year ago.

“The conference is always tough, especially on the top three or four teams,” Cranston said.

The players know that the competition will be tough.

“Our competition is only getting harder, [and] this year we have a huge target on our back, so a lot of teams want to beat us,” Schmitz said.

The Falcons open NCHA play Nov. 20 against Superior.