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Men’s hockey eager for upcoming season

October 28, 2011

The UW-River Falls men’s hockey coach, Steve Freeman, said the large group of returners and a faster team will get them through playoffs this year.

The team lost in the semifinals of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) Peter’s Cup playoffs last year against St. Norbert College, according to the NCHA website. The NCHA is recognized as one of the top small-college hockey leagues in country, with an 18-game schedule, according to the NCHA website. The Peter’s Cup playoffs is the tournament for the NCHA and what the Falcons are shooting to win this year, which takes place towards the end of February and the finals are March 3.

It will take the Falcons speed, discipline and fan support to win the playoffs. Freeman said adding speed to the offense and defense would get them higher in the standings. “A lot faster team, skate faster and to help us offensively by adding speed to the line up. We have a great group of seniors back, a lot of returners who have played in a lot of big games, and we finished second last year behind St. Norbert in defense,” Freeman said.

The team lost two seniors this year and has 17 returners and 11 newcomers. Senior and captain, Sean Roadhouse said the team’s biggest obstacle this year is themselves, like it is every year.

“We have one of the most talented and skilled squads in the league, but it’s a matter of putting it all together and executing while staying disciplined. We expect to win the league,” Roadhouse said. Freeman said he wanted to emphasize all the championships for the Falcons because it’s a history of great tradition. They have three NCHA Championships, three National Championships, and 14 WIAC Championships, the most recent one being in 2010.

The WIAC consists of five teams: UW-Eau Claire, UWRF, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout and UW-Superior. The team with the most points at the end of the season is the conference champions. All these team are also included in the NCHA league. Roadhouse said the team is focusing on not beating themselves by being undisciplined and taking penalties.

“During a game I’m usually singing a song or something. In practice we do so many reps of situations in a game and our responsibilities that it becomes second nature. So during a game it is all reaction,” Roadhouse said. Men’s hockey at UWRF is known for their super-fans. Junior Lyle Rocker said the fans are the best in the league and are what keeps the team grounded throughout the whole season. Freeman said the fans always have a great time.

“The fan support is tremendous, it makes the whole atmosphere for the game. It’s like an extra player on the team,” Freeman said. Roadhouse said that they have the best and loudest fans in the league. It’s a great feeling and it fires the boys up.

The Falcons start the season at home at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28 against Finlandia University.

Freeman said the freshman are adding to the fast and physical team the Falcons have. Rocker said this will help contribute to the team improving in every aspect this year compared to last year.

“As a team we have to be better in every area, we have a strong group of guys coming in that are going to step right in and help our team win hockey games,” Rocker said. The team also plays against St. Norbert at home Friday at 7:05 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 11th and 12th.