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Women’s hockey wins another WIAC playoff title

March 11, 2015

The UW-River Falls women’s hockey team defeated the UW-Stevens Point Pointers on March 7 to win its second straight WIAC playoff championship.

The Falcons beat Stevens Point by a score of 6-1. In the conclusion of the game, the Falcons held the O’Brien Cup, the trophy for winning the WIAC playoff championship. Last year, the Falcons defeated these same Pointers, 5-1.

“You could feel the atmosphere in the rink,” said senior defenseman Kendal Evenson. “We were all hyped up, very energetic, so it was a lot faster game.”

The Falcons dominated the first period, with a 15-0 advantage in shots before the Pointers got its first shot. The Falcons led 1-0 after one period. In the second period, UWRF added two more goals to make it 3-0.

“We had a great first period,” said Head Coach Joe Cranston. “And when Stevens Point put on some pressure we were able to play solid defensively. It was a great all-around effort.”

In the third period, Stevens Point scored its first goal, but the Falcons scored three more goals to polish the win off by a score of 6-1. The Falcons have not lost in its last 16 games, while winning 10 straight.

“We’re a fast team and we pride ourselves on that,” said sophomore center Emily Stark. “We were able to keep a fast-paced tempo throughout the whole game, our passes were clicking really well, and we were getting the shots on the goal that we really needed.”

The victory improves the Falcons’ record to 24-3-1. The Falcons have also received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. UWRF hosts Lake Forest College at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, in the NCAA quarterfinals. If the Falcons win, UWRF will advance to the final four.

The UWRF men’s hockey team also won the WIAC playoff championship, but will not be playing in the NCAA Tournament.

The fact that both teams won the WIAC conference playoffs is a rarity. In the history of the WIAC, there have only been nine instances of this happening. These happened in soccer, basketball and baseball, but never hockey. In fact, the men’s and women’s hockey teams have never each won the WIAC playoff championship in the same year.

The women have a lot of hope and expect a lot out of the team come championship time.

“With it being my senior year, you obviously want to go all the way and make that trek,” Evenson said. “We went last year and I’m never going to forget that feeling with the team and having those memories with the girls.”

“Hopefully a national championship title,” Stark said of the team’s main goal. “But honestly, just being with all those girls and being a family, and no matter what the score is we will always love each other.”

Cranston said that UWRF women’s hockey has developed into a winning tradition, as the Falcons have gotten an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament seven years in a row now, which is great for recruitment as it shows future players how good Falcon hockey is and how stable the team is.