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Falcons set for a showdown with top-ranked Tommies

February 5, 2019

In what is shaping up to be the biggest regular season matchup of the year, the fourth-ranked Falcons women’s hockey team is set to clash with the unbeaten, no. 1-ranked St. Thomas Tommies on Wednesday, February 6th at Hunt Arena in River Falls, Wisconsin.

The table is set for the Falcons as they look to avenge one of their two losses on the season. After dropping their season opener 3-4 to Adrian College, who is currently ranked no. 6 in D-III hockey, the Falcon’s went on a ten-game winning streak before running into St. Thomas and suffering a 3-1 defeat west of the Saint Croix River on December 12. Since that loss, the Falcons are now currently on a nine-game winning streak. UW-River Falls also saw an impressive 25-0 goal run from the third period of a 6-3 victory over St. Mary’s on January 8 to the third period of an 8-1 win over UW-Stevens Point on January 19.

Currently positioned at the top of the WIAC with a record of 19-2, Head Coach Joe Cranston believes his team has what it takes to avenge their prior defeat at the hands of the Tommies.

“Last time we faced St. Thomas we had five or six kids that hadn’t really figured it out yet, they didn’t really have the confidence you need to play against a team like that,” Cranston said.

“We have four solid lines, and everyone is playing with confidence,” Cranston continued. “I don’t think St. Thomas has the depth to handle our four lines and seven [defenseman], I think we have the advantage especially since we are at home.”

While the team may roll out four solid lines, Callie Hoff, a sophomore from Hermantown, Minnesota, stands out above the rest. Despite having knee surgery during the offseason, she has racked up 20 goals and seven assists in 19 games played. Hoff currently is second in the WIAC in points and tied for first in goals to UW-Eau Claire’s Courtney Wittig, who was drafted 11th overall by the Metropolitan Riveters in the 2018 National Women’s Hockey League Draft back in December.

“[Hoff] just competes at a very high level, she’s not going to let something like that keep her down for too long,” Cranston said.

Cranston also credits his two goaltenders, Sami Miller and Tatyana Delaittre for the success UW-River Falls has enjoyed this season. Miller, a freshman, has played in 11 games this season with a 1.33 GAA and a .926 save percentage, while Delaittre has played in one fewer game and posted a 1.14 GAA and an impressive .941 save percentage.

While the focus remains on upsetting the no. 1-ranked Tommies, Cranston believes this team is a more well-rounded team than in years past and should be playing deep into the postseason with a crack at a National Championship. “The biggest thing for us is we are better defensively, we brought in a couple pretty good defenseman,” Cranston said. “I think this team probably has more depth than any team I’ve coached here in my twenty years, there’s a lot of variables that come into play, but I like our chances.”

Puck drop is set for 7:05 PM.