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Athlete of the Week: Dani Sibley

December 7, 2016

Dani Sibley, a senior forward from Monticello, Minnesota, has had a historic two weeks for the UW-River Falls women’s hockey team. Sibley has recorded three consecutive hat tricks over the course of a 6-2 win over St. Olaf, a 9-0 win versus UW-Superior and a 6-0 win against St. Scholastica. Those nine goals have led her to be the leading scorer this season for the Falcons, totaling 12 goals and nine assists through nine games. This has helped lead the Falcons to an 8-1 record and rise back up to third in the d3hockey.com rankings.

The Student Voice sat down with Sibley to discuss her recent scoring success and the team’s response to their only loss of the season.

Q: Have you been impressed with the way the team has responded since the loss to UW-Eau Claire?

A: I think that that was a hard loss for us, and it kind of reminded us that anything can happen early on in the season. We have to come out every game and play our best because other teams definitely play their best against us. Our coaches definitely motivated us and pushed us the next few days in practice and left it up to us to perform better to get the next few wins after that loss.

Q: What has led to a 21-2 margin of victory in the last three games?

A: Coming out and playing our game. We have a lot of talent and depth this year, and it starts from our goalie and defenseman all the way up to the first line. Everyone has been playing really well and moving the puck. We’ve been using our speed and taking pride in working hard.

Q: Is scoring the strongest part of your game or just what gets the most attention?

A: I personally don’t think I’m usually a goal scorer. We’ve had a lot of players score a lot of goals in the past, and it’s awesome to be part of that this year, but I owe all my success to my teammates and line mates, because without them creating plays I don’t put the puck in the net.

Q: What has been the response to you having three consecutive hat tricks in the past two weeks?

A: Just walking around campus and in my classes a lot of people have complimented me, which is huge. Our team doesn’t obviously get the biggest crowd base in women’s hockey but this motivates us and encourages us to keep playing our game.

Q: Have you ever had this kind of scoring success before?

A: I’ve never scored three hat tricks in a row and maybe only two in a row in high school. It’s definitely something I’m proud of as an accomplishment. A lot people say you don’t see a hat trick in college let alone three so it’s definitely been exciting for me.

Q: What came together to take down UW-Superior in an important WIAC game 9-0 after a slow start?

A: After the second period, our coach came in and kind of let us have it. He was trying to motivate us to not just score goals but control the puck and make smart plays. His big thing is he doesn’t care if we’re scoring goals but he wants us to play smart hockey and be a good team. After the second period we kind of realized we needed get our act together. We controlled the game and came together by realizing we need to step up our game and put the puck in the net.

Q: What has been the central focus of this team in order to keep growing to get back to a national championship?

A: Our big thing that we say a lot at practice is the “first three steps.” This means everything needs to be full speed and that we are using our speed. We are one of the fastest teams in the WIAC, so that really helps our game. When we play down to another team’s speed, they can control the tempo. If we come and play fast, not many teams can skate with us.

Q: What is a small improvement that can make yourselves an elite team?

A: Consistency. [Coach Cranston] has said that a few times this year, and I definitely agree. We either come out really bad or really well against a team, and we can’t have that throughout the season. Especially coming closer to the end of the season, we need to come out and play three strong periods. Every shift has to be our best and we can’t take a shift off. That’s definitely something we strive to work at every day in practice and in games.