MEQUON, Wis. - After a tough 1-0 defeat on the road against Lake Forest College on December 6, the Concordia University Wisconsin women's hockey team needed a bounce-back performance in their final game before four weeks away from game action.
The Falcons got just that, rallying to defeat Bethel University 2-1 in Tomahawk, Wis., last Saturday to go into the holidays with a 6-4-0 (4-3-0 NCHA) record.
It's the first time CUW has had a winning record at Christmas in head coach Jim Ingman's five seasons in charge of the Falcons, and he says the victory against Bethel was extremely important for his team's mentality.
"You never want to go into a long break with a loss," Ingman said. "It was a strong win for us because Bethel is a very good team with a lot of veteran players; and once again, we went down right away but fought to come from behind for the victory."
Competing in close games is something the Falcons have gotten used to, as five of their first 10 games this season have been decided by only one goal.
CUW is 3-2 in those one-goal contests, with both losses coming against Lake Forest.
While the pair of losses against the Foresters were tough pills to swallow for the Falcons, Ingman knows his players can't dwell on the past.
"The two Lake Forest games were one-goal games that we probably should have won," Ingman said. "Those are points we can't get back; but now we just have to work for pucks, score goals, and do what we need to do to win games."
The pair's statistics through the first half of the season are nearly identical: Mizanskey is 3-2 as a starter, while posting a .924 save percentage and a 2.26 goals against average. Evans is also 3-2, and is just behind her freshman counterpart with a .904 save percentage and a 2.92 GAA.
"Kaitlyn and Andrea are both playing great," Ingman said. "Kaitlyn's numbers really don't reflect how well she's played, and Andrea is a quick goalie who brings a lot of energy when she's in net."
Evans and Mizanskey are just two of the 16 freshmen on the CUW roster this season, and Ingman likes the way his young players have matured over the first half of the year.
"Being a young team, we've been able to play with just about everyone we've gone up against," he said. "We have a lot of young talent that's coming along, and it's nice to see us have early success given how young we are."
The Falcons will return to practice on December 29, when they will begin preparing for a second half schedule that will be crucial in terms of where they'll rank in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association standings at the end of the regular season.
CUW is in a two-way tie with Adrian College for sixth in the 11-team conference, and will have their shot against most of the teams who are currently above them in the NCHA standings.
Ingman knows that while his team has played well up to this point, its toughest stretch is still to come.
"This is when it counts," he said. "We only play two more non-conference games, then it's all conference games the rest of the way. We just have to keep playing our game; getting shots, getting to the net, and playing good defense. If we do that, we'll be fine."