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Falcons women’s hockey splits opening weekend games versus Adrian College

October 29, 2018

The eighth-ranked UW-River Falls women’s hockey team split their first two games this weekend in their season-opening series vs number-six ranked Adrian College. The Falcons lost their first game on Saturday in overtime 3-4 before rebounding and defeating the Bulldogs 4-3 on Sunday at Hunt Arena.

Head Coach Joe Cranston has been preparing his team for the 2018-2019 season, a year in which he believes the team will end up at the top of the WIAC standings once again.

“We have good quality players, good quality kids. When you have that you are going to have success”, Cranston said.

Cranston, who is entering his 20th season as head coach of the Falcons, has won dozens of NCAA accolades and several championships in his coaching tenure at UWRF. Despite this, he doesn’t concern himself with awards or titles, saying, “We don’t really talk about national championships or conference championships, we don’t even really talk about winning games. Our expectation is to work hard every day and push ourselves to be better. We aren’t really goal orientated, we are just more of a lunch bucket team”

The Falcons have had 18 straight winning seasons, including nine consecutive NCAA National Tournament appearances, and Coach Cranston believes his team could be even better this year compared to years past.

“We will be as good, if not better offensively, this year we have more depth and will be able to roll four lines”, Cranston said. “We have a very up-tempo style of hockey, so teams are just not able to skate with us for three periods.”

Despite some praise by Coach Cranston, he believes that some aspects of his team need to improve in 2018-2019.

“Our team defense was not very good last year, very average to below average”, Cranston said. “We need to get better in our defensive zone”.

This season comes after a 2-3 overtime loss to UW-Eau Claire in the WIAC O’Brien Cup championship game on March 3rd. Reflecting back on the defeat, Cranston said, “We were still hopeful, we didn’t think our season was over yet. When we didn’t get the bid, it was an even bigger blow”.

“Eau Claire’s a better team, we’ll be gunning for them”, Cranston continues. “It’s going to be a big motivator and we’ll be a better team because of it.”

Coach Cranston believes that while losing senior players can be tough, it’s a part of the game. He focuses on the recruiting process to improve the team from year-to-year, adding that the process has become more difficult in the past decade due to D-I programs putting a greater emphasis on reaching players as young as eighth graders.

Despite Carly Morgan, Angie Hall, and Amy Auran graduating from the team last spring, Cranston likes what he currently has on the team, speaking glowingly of sophomore Callie Hoff. Hoff scored 20 goals and 17 assists last season in 28 appearances on her way to winning the USCHO Women’s D-III Rookie of the Year award.

“She didn’t even play like a freshman, she played like an upperclassman”, Cranston said. “She had knee surgery this summer, so she’s not quite 100%. She played kind of hurt last year, the sky’s the limit for her.”