Falcon skaters remain unbeatenThe UW-River Falls men’s hockey team used a four-goal first period Nov. 11 and a five-goal, third-period outburst Saturday to take three of four points from the defending national champion St. Norbert Green Knights in its NCHA opening series over the weekend at Hunt Arena.
By: Bob Burrows, River Falls Journal
The UW-River Falls men’s hockey team used a four-goal first period Nov. 11 and a five-goal, third-period outburst Saturday to take three of four points from the defending national champion St. Norbert Green Knights in its NCHA opening series over the weekend at Hunt Arena.
The 12th-ranked Falcons jumped out to a 4-0 lead Friday and held on for a 6-3 victory. Saturday they trailed 4-0 in the third period before erupting for five goals in 11 minutes, only to have third-ranked St. Norbert tie the score with two minutes remaining. After a scoreless overtime, and some pushing and shoving after the final horn, the Falcons remained unbeaten on the season with a 5-5 tie.
The Falcons, now 5-0-1 overall, 1-0-1 in NCHA play, will host UW-Stevens Point (2-4-1, 1-2-1) Nov. 18 and 19 at 7:05 p.m.
The night of Nov. 11, the Falcons jumped out to 4-0 lead on first-period goals by Tyler Briola, Alec Hageman and a pair by Justin Brossman. New Richmond native Jake Calleja made it a 5-0 game with a power play goal two minutes into the second period before the Green Knights scored three unanswered goals to cut UW-RF’s lead to 5-3 midway through the third.
The Falcons killed off a pair of Green Knight power plays in the last 10 minutes while getting an empty-net goal from Geoff Shewmake with 39 seconds remaining to seal the Falcons’ first win over the Green Knights since the 2006-07 season.
“We came out ready to play tonight,” Falcon coach Steve Freeman said. “We played on our toes and very aggressively to start. We were able to take advantage of St. Norbert’s turnovers and jump way ahead.”
Brossman also had an assist in the win while Adam Cardwell had three assists. Goaltender Scott Lewan finished with 33 saves as St. Norbert’s outshot the Falcons 36-17.
“Beating the defending NCAA champions is a step in the right direction for us,” Freeman said. “It was also important for us to start the NCHA season with a win.”
The tables were turned on the Falcons Saturday night as St. Norbert built a 3-0 lead while outshooting the Falcons 30-20 over the first two periods. The Green Knights extended their lead to 4-0 less than two minutes into the third period before the Falcons caught fire.
Shewmake scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season, on a power play, at the 5:02 mark of the third, before Blake Huppert cut the Green Knights’ lead in half at 8:33.
Ben Beaudoin’s power play goal at the 10:43 mark made it a 4-3 game before Willie Hess tied it up at 14:28. Huppert’s second goal of the game, with 3:45 remaining, gave UW-RF a 5-4 lead but a late Falcon penalty led to a St. Norbert goal less than a minute later to tie the score.
The Falcons were forced to kill off another penalty in overtime before escaping with a 5-5 draw.
“We’re very proud of our effort by scoring five goals in the third,” Freeman said. “There is no give-up with this group.”
Following the final horn, a skirmish involving a number of players broke out before the post-game handshake could be completed, resulting in numerous penalties to both teams, including game misconducts to UW-RF’s Hess and Cardwell and to St. Norbert’s Seth Soley and Carl Ekstrom. Each team was whistled for 15 penalties in the contest.
Lewan finished with 35 saves as the Green Knight’s outshot the Falcons 40-37. St. Norbert fell to 3-2-2 overall, 1-2-1 in the NCHA.