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Opinion

Women’s hockey ranked No. 1

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February 17, 2011

In case you have not noticed, the women’s hockey team is kind of a big deal.  Actually, they are a really big deal. They are ranked No. 1 in the country. According to the UW-River Falls athletic website, “This is the first time the Falcons have been the top ranked team in the nation. The Falcons have been ranked nationally in the USCHO.com poll for 38 straight weeks.”

The Falcons come in to their final regular season series at Marian College with an overall record of 20-0-3, a National Collegiate Hockey Association record of 15-0-3, a three game winning streak, and a 13-0-1 record at Hunt Arena. 

They have clinched the NCHA title for the third time in school history.  The other titles came in 2003 and 2009. Not to mention they are currently in the midst of a 23-game unbeaten streak. That is an impressive resume to boast
and the Falcons are just getting better as the season progresses.

The Falcons set a school record for most goals in a game in a 12-0 win over Finlandia Feb. 13.  But what has truly been the most impressive feature of the team’s components is just how balanced and deep the team is.  The
Falcons are third in the nation in goals scored per game at 4.43.  18 different Falcons have scored at least one goal throughout the season. Aiding the Falcon attack is how strong the Falcons are in spreading the puck around.  22 Falcons have recorded an assist- a statistic that will help the Falcons outskate and outperform teams down the stretch. 

Freshman Kait Mason leads the Falcons in points with 25.  She has scored 10 goals and has 15 assists.  Fellow freshmen Katie Batters and Brook Story are tied for the lead in goals with 11.

But on the other end of the ice the Falcons are just as dominant.  Senior Cassi Campbell leads the Falcons with an 8-0-1 record and a 1.48 goals against average. In 12 games she has allowed a mere 14 goals. Junior Melissa Deardorff also has been a brick wall between the pipes.  She is 6-0 on the year and has a 1.80 goals against average in nine games played.  She has allowed 12 goals in all.

Another advantage the Falcons have is in coaching strength.  Head Coach Joe Cranston is in his twelfth season leading the Falcons. During his tenure, he has had 11 winning seasons with at least a .520 win percentage.  Also during that run, the Falcons have finished in the top three in the conference for 11 straight years.  Cranston came into this season with a 170-100-26 record.

So whether it is a balanced and powerful offense that improves week by week, a defense that is nearly impenetrable, and a coaching staff filled with leadership and experience, the Falcons are poised to make a deep postseason run.

The Falcons will open NCHA play-offs Feb. 25 at home at Hunt Arena.  The opponent and game time is yet to be determined.

For 38 weeks the Falcons have been ranked among the nation’s best.  Now, they have become the team to beat.  Go Falcons!

Ashley Goettl is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the Student Voice from fall semester 2011 to spring semester 2013.