MEQUON, Wis. – Concordia University Wisconsin's Men's Hockey program will begin their second season under head coach Jasen Wise on Nov. 1 against Lawrence University in a home-and-home series.
Last season the Falcons revamped roster and newfound energy led them to a 7-18-0 overall record and a 7-13-0 record in conference play. Several things have changed for CUW during the offseason, including the addition of another recruiting class and conference realignment.
Below are five questions regarding the Men's Hockey program as they enter the 2013-14 season:
1) How quickly will the Falcons returners and freshmen gel on and off the ice?
It takes time for an incoming freshman to become acclimated to his surroundings (new city, different expectations, class schedule, coaching style, etc.). With so many sophomores who experienced the unknowing of what was happening a year ago, team unity should be excelled by captain Buster Hebda (sophomore, Firestone, Colo.) and assistant captains Brandon Bayer (senior, Milwaukee, Wis.), Eli Riddle (sophomore, Blissfield, Mich.) and Lawrence Childs (sophomore, Silver Springs, Md.).
2) Will the Falcons win total increase for a third-consecutive season?
Last season Wise brought in nearly 20 freshmen and quickly instilled his philosophy and style in practices and competitions. CUW made a five-win improvement from the previous regime, including a program-best seven victories in a difficult conference which featured numerous nationally ranked teams. With five of their top six scorers returning from a season ago, the Falcons could push into the double-digit win total by season's end.
3) What does the addition of St. Norbert and St. Scholastica mean for the new NCHA?
A year ago CUW was in the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association, but has since moved into the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association last spring. Also joining the league were three-time national champions St. Norbert and an always-difficult St. Scholastica program. Along with Adrian -- who is consistently ranked in the top 10 -- and cross-town rival MSOE, the NCHA can be expected to be one of, if not the toughest league in the country.
4) Can the Falcons limit the penalties?
During the 2012-13 campaign, the Falcons committed an average of 17.2 penalty minutes per game, which is equivalent to nearly a period of hockey. If they can limit the miscues and keep an extra skater on the ice, their -1.64 point differential should dramatically improve.
5) Will Jake Hebda continue to progress between the pipes?
When Wise accepted the position at CUW, he made three phone calls and one was to Jake Hebda to make sure he was going to follow him to Mequon. The goalkeeper was given the starting nod a season ago and took a few bumps during his freshman season, while also showing signs of an all-conference goaltender. Hebda recorded one shutout, saved over 30 shots in eight games, finished with a .875 save percentage and had a 4.09 goals against average.