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Opinion

Penalty kill, defense hinders men’s hockey

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November 4, 2010

The No. 9 ranked Falcon men’s hockey team went 1-1 against conference UW-Superior this past weekend. On Friday, the Falcons downed the Yellowjackets 5-3 surviving a third period flurry by Superior as the Yellowjackets scored three times in the third. On Saturday, the Falcons didn’t play with the intensity they did the night before and as a result came up on the short end of the stick 3-2. The Falcons are looking to return to the NCHA Peters Cup Final again this season but in order to do that they will need to improve their penalty kill after the Falcons gave up three power play goals in the past two games.

The Falcons allowed one power play goal in six penalty kill attempts on Saturday. Combine that with Friday night’s penalty kill and the Falcons allowed three goals in 12 power play opportunities. The penalty kill on the weekend was just a measly 75 percent. There are a number of things to consider for the Falcons in the penalty kill as to why they struggled and how they can improve.

The Falcons need to improve on the number of penalties take; They took 15 penalties last weekend, which is an average of 7.5 per game. They are too good to take that many penalties. This weekend, the Falcons faced the last place team from a season ago, yet they only went 1-1 in large part because they were short-handed for too long.

The Falcons also need to improve how they play when on a penalty kill. Defensively the Falcons need to find a way to stop those shots. With four skaters collapsing to the middle, somebody should be getting their body on the puck.

The Falcons goalie also needs to step up his play on the penalty kill, as shots that were coming in along the ice were able to get by him. This could be a result of any number of things: lack of concentration, funny hops right at the crease or lack of visibility. If the goalie can’t see the puck coming in, he will have trouble stopping it. If that is the case the defense needs to work on clearing out the front of the net.

Hopefully the Falcons can figure out some things on the penalty kill in their third week of practice. Clear the goalie’s line of sight, knock down perimeter shots and cut down on the penalties and the Falcons will be a force to be reckoned with in the NCHA.

Robert Silvers is a student at UW-River Falls.