MEQUON, Wis. - Coming off its first victory of the season last Saturday, the Concordia University Wisconsin men's hockey team is hoping to continue making positive strides in the coming weeks.
The Falcons took down Lake Forest College at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee this past weekend, scoring four goals in the third period to run away with a 5-2 win.
After playing some top competition to open the season, CUW has put together a string of solid performances, going 1-1-1 in their last three games.
Concordia split a two-game series with Lake Forest over the weekend, and were in good position to win Friday before the Foresters pulled away in the final period.
Nonetheless, head coach Tony Hrkac liked what he saw from his team in both games, and was impressed with the way the Falcons bounced back on Saturday.
"We played really well on Friday; we could've won that game," Hrkac said. "But we came back Saturday and played strong. We played two good periods, and then the third period was probably our best period of the year so far."
Earlier this season, the Falcons struggled against some highly-ranked opponents, including defending NCAA national champion St. Norbert College.
But Hrkac believes that playing that kind of elite competition will only help his players grow.
"We played some tough teams those first few games," Hrkac said. "I think we learned a lot playing against top-ranked competition, and it carried over to last weekend."
Sophomore Russell Johnson (Monticello, Minn.) leads the team with five goals, and is coming off a hat trick performance against Lake Forest on Saturday.
Johnson, who earned MCHA Player of the Week honors on Tuesday, is also tied with sophomore Shay Klitzke (Annandale, Minn.) and freshman Lukas Allen (Lakeville, Minn.) for the team lead in points with six.
Freshman goaltender Josh Lehr (Appleton, Wis.) has made 270 saves in seven starts, posting a .891 save percentage overall.
Hrkac, in his 5th season at CUW, says his team is getting better every day, but knows it will take time to reach their potential.
"The guys are working hard at practice, and we're starting to communicate better when we're on the ice," Hrkac said. "Teams usually don't really start to gel until after Christmas, but we'll take these next few weeks to pick it up and start putting the puck in the net."
The team doesn't play again until November 25th, when they'll travel to St. Cloud, Minn. for two games against St. John's University.
In the meantime, Hrkac and the Falcons will use their extra practices to work on all phases of their game, as they look to build off their recent success.
"We'll run a lot of drills designed to create scoring chances, but we'll also try to buckle down in our defensive zone," Hrkac said. "Hopefully, when it comes time to play, we'll have a full game that we can put together and come away with a couple more victories."