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Opinion

Falcon men’s hockey team hosts first round of playoffs

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February 19, 2010

The playoff season for winter sports has finally arrived. The men’s hockey team kicks off the playoff season with the first round of the NCHA Peters Cup as the third seed hosting sixth seed UW-Eau Claire. The first round of the NCHA Peters Cup is a best of three series, and it is played on Friday and Saturday night. The third game is not your traditional game, however, as it is just a mini-game. It consists of just one twenty minute period after the Saturday night game if the series is tied at one apiece. If there is a winner after the twenty minute period than that team moves on to the semifinals. If the game is still tied after the twenty-minute period, it will go into a sudden death match and whichever team scores first moves on.

The two teams have played each other three times this year, with the Falcons winning two of the games and tying the other. The weekend of November 13 and 14, the Falcons traveled over to Eau Claire to play the Blugolds at Hobbs Arena. The Falcons left Eau Claire with a 2-1 victory on Friday night and a 1-1 tie on Saturday night. On February 6th, the Blugolds traveled to Hunt Area hoping to avenge their defeats, but came up short as the Falcons scored five third period goals and won 6-3.

The Falcons finished the season strong winning four of their last five games. The biggest concern coming into this weekend will be can they win at home or not. The team has been inconsistent at home this year, posting a 6-7 home record, but only a 9-1-2 record on the road. However, they have won their last two home games, which includes the Eau Claire game on February 6th. The Falcons had just five home games since the mid-season semester break winning three of the five games.

The biggest reason for the inconsistent home record and the dominant road record comes down to the defensive side of the game. The Falcons scored 46 goals in 13 games at home, which, averages out to be 3.53 goals per game. The Falcons scored 41 goals in 12 games on the road, which averages out to be 3.41 goals per game. There isn’t much difference on the offensive side of the game between home and away. However, goals given up are a different story. The Falcons gave up 45 goals in 13 at home, which, averages out to be 3.46 goals per game. The Falcons gave up only 27 goals in 12 games on the road, which, averages out to be 2.25 goals per game. The team is giving up one less goal on the road than at home and is still consistently scoring as many goals on the road as at home. In hockey, that is a huge difference.

If the Falcons can bring the defensive side of their game they create on the road to Hunt Arena, and also keep that offensive edge they have, the team should have no problem taking care of sixth seeded UW-Eau Claire in the first round of the NCHA Peters Cup.

Derek Johnson is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.