Season Update: Women’s Hockey starting strong

Season Update: Women’s Hockey starting strong

MEQUON, Wis. - Despite losing 12 seniors from last year, the Concordia University Wisconsin women's hockey team is off to a strong start to the 2011-12 campaign.

At 4-2-0 (2-1-0 NCHA), the Falcons have already displayed continuity between the team's upperclassmen and the 16 freshmen playing in their first season at CUW.

The team has also shown resiliency, bouncing back nicely from two tough losses to post a winning record just six games into the season.

After suffering a 4-3 loss at home against Lake Forest College last Tuesday, CUW answered by sweeping a two-game set with Finlandia University this past weekend.

During that two-game series, the Falcons cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Lions on Friday night, before earning a hard-fought 1-0 win at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee on Saturday.

Head coach Jim Ingman is happy with his team's performance thus far, and believes that the two-game series with Finlandia served as a character builder for his players.

"That's college hockey," Ingman said. "Just because you win big one night doesn't mean you'll have the same type of game the next night. That's the neat thing about our conference too; you can win anytime you're out there, but the next day could be a completely different story."

Earlier this season, the Falcons hit the road for back-to-back games in Minnesota, and got off to a rough start by losing 7-1 to Gustavus Adolphus College, a team that reached the NCAA national semifinals a year ago.

But the Falcons answered back the next day, taking down St. Mary's University 4-2 to earn a 1-1 split on the road trip.

"It shows a lot of character when you can bounce back, especially after the loss to Gustavus," Ingman said. "But the real test was how we would respond against a very good St. Mary's team, and our players did a great job of that."

Freshman Emily Heckendorf (Merrill, Wis.) and senior Hilary Christiansen (Eagan, Minn.) are tied for the team lead in points with eight a piece.

Senior Alyssa Isaackson (Marshall, Minn.) is tied with Heckendorf for the team lead in goals with four each.

Isaackson is coming off a weekend in which she scored three times in two games against Finlandia, netting the game winner in both games.

Between the pipes, freshman goalie Andrea Mizanskey (Palos Heights, Ill.) has posted a .926 save percentage thus far, while making 24 saves on Saturday to give the Falcons their first shutout of the year.

"We've seen a lot of improvement from our freshmen, our team speed is picking up and our goaltending is getting stronger," Ingman said. "So there are a lot of positives, but there are also a lot of things we still have to work on when we're out there."

Ingman, who is in fifth year as the Falcons head coach, has also liked the fact that his team isn't getting carried away despite their winning ways to start the season.

"Having a winning record this early in the year is nice, but I like the attitude on the team," Ingman said. "They realize that we're not playing our best hockey yet and we need to keep working on the little things to improve."

After three games last week, the Falcons have a quick turnaround with a road game against Marian University on Wednesday night in Fond du Lac, Wis.

The two teams have already played once this season, with CUW winning 5-4 in overtime in its season opener.

One of the ways the Falcons are preparing for Wednesday's game against the Sabres (0-6-0, 0-5-0 NCHA) will be getting ready for the sheet of ice in which they'll be playing on, which is wider than the rink at the Ozaukee Ice Center.

"Marian is a little bit of a different situation for us," Ingman said. "They play on an Olympic-size sheet of ice, which is 15 feet wider than the rinks we normally skate on, so team speed and positioning will be crucial."

Wednesday's game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.