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UWRF men’s hockey starts season undefeated

December 5, 2014

The UW-River Falls men’s hockey team is currently 7-0 this season, and are looking quite strong besides some injury struggles early on.

“Every win matters when it comes down to the national tournament, especially teams that we matched up like Augsburg, Northland, [and] Lawrence, those are our comparison games,” said junior goaltender Tanner Milliron. “So every game matters, I mean conference games are huge and they will be tough, but just getting off to a good start is the most important thing for us.”

On Friday, Nov. 21, the team faced Lawrence University at home and won 4-1. Sophomore forward Mike Fazio led the team with two goals; sophomore forward Taylor Burden and senior captain forward Blake Huppert each had one goal while Milliron made 28 saves in the net.

Then on Saturday, Nov. 22, the team faced Northland at home and won 3-0. Sophomore forward Ryan Doner, freshman defenseman Terry Leabo, and sophomore defenseman Jeff Bergh each had a goal while Milliron made 19 more saves in his first shutout of the season.

The team they went on the road to Augsburg and recorded a 4-3 win in overtime. Four different Falcons scored and junior forward Mike Williams scored the game-winning overtime tally.

“Well, you know over the last three games I think we have shown the improvement that we are looking for, especially defensively we’ve played pretty well which is a staple of our program,” said Head Coach Steve Freeman. “Without the puck we have been playing fast and putting a lot of pressure on the other team to get the puck back quickly and when we do get the puck we’re trying to hang on to it and protect it as much as we possibly can. We have done a pretty good job with that.”

A big thing that the team has dealt with is injured players from the very start of the season. The Falcons have had multiple players out or banged up before they even had its first game of the year.

“Christian George had that serious cut above his knee with a skate and he has been out a few weeks right now and he has the stitches out and he is starting to walk around by himself without crutches but I think he is a little ways away, we will have to wait and see how that plays out. Matt Wurst, he’s still a couple weeks away for getting his cast off, he broke his ankle, and he has been out for a long time. He probably won’t play until the second half of the season and he is going to have to do some extra work and get himself in shape from that,” Freeman said. “But we are hoping to get Christian back maybe the following week…you know how important every single game is. The rest of the guys have been able to bounce back and jump back into the lineup.”

Milliron is going to be representing the WIAC and the Midwest Conference on the NCAA Div. III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) after he was selected to the position two weeks ago.

“It’s my job to make sure opinions are heard and just make sure all the student athletes are kind of filled-in on the new situations with rules and legislation and things like that,” Milliron said. “So I’m excited to start and see what happens with it and hopefully it turns out well for us.”