Falcons take it to Yellowjackets
River Falls 4, Yellowjackets 1
Coming into Friday's game with the Yellowjackets, UW-River Falls was an unbeaten team and ranked number-four in the nation according to both national polls. The polls aren't exactly official, but at this point in the year it is all that anyone has to go off of. The Falcons left Wessman Arena looking every bit the part of the fourth-ranked team in the country, downing the Yellowjackets 4-1.
With the win, the Falcons not only remain unbeaten (7-0-2 overall, 3-0-2 NCHA), but they also take over first place in the NCHA. Their eight points ties them with the Yellowjackets, but due to Friday's win, they own the first tiebreaker, giving them first place in the conference.
Following a scoreless first period, the Yellowjackets jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the second. Just seven seconds in, Kyle Leahy (Fort St. John, British Columbia/North Peace Secondary) won a faceoff and Pat Dalbec (Superior, Wis./Superior Senior) ripped a wrist shot from the right circle past Falcon goaltender Scott Lewan for his eighth goal of the season giving the Yellowjackets the lead. It was the eighth time in ten games that the Yellowjackets have scored first. Minutes later while shorthanded, Dalbec had a partical breakaway and tried deking to the backhand, but Lewan got the better of him this time around.
The Falcons, came back midway through the period and tied the game. Following a stretch of great forechecking by the Yellowjackets, the Falcons got in Yellowjacket territory and Geoff Shewmake fed a pass from the right wing to Jason Yuel whose slap shot from the left circle was tipped out front and eluded Drew Strandberg (Thunder Bay, Ontario/Westgate CV&I) to make it 1-1 at 11:14. Minutes later the Falcons got the eventual game-winning goal when Jake Calleja found a rebound at the top of the crease and lifted a backhand over a sprawling Strandberg, giving the Falcons a 2-1 lead at 15:55.
In the third period, the Falcons salted the game away on the power play. Late in the game, Brad Phenow (Sauk Rapids, Minn./Sauk Rapids-Rice) was called for an elbow and the Falcons capitalized. Adam Cardwell had the puck behind the net and made a brilliant pass out front to Justin Brossman who beat Strandberg to make it 3-1 with just 1:59 remaining in regulation. Alec Hagaman added an empty net goal with 26 seconds to play, making the final score 4-1.
Special teams were a huge part of Friday's outcome. The Yellowjackets had three power play chances in the opening stanza, and five total in the game but were unable to convert any of them. River Falls on the other hand, who were firing at nearly a 30% clip coming into the game, went 1-3.
Strandberg made 17 saves in the game, seeing more rubber in each period as the game went on. Lewan meanwhile, stood tall when tested, and finished with 24 stops.
The Yellowjackets (5-3-2, 3-2-2 NCHA) and the Falcons will do battle in game two of their weekend series on Saturday, December 3 beginning at 7:05 p.m. The game can be heard live locally on 91.3 FM KUWS following the Yellowjacket men's basketball game, which tips off at 5:00 p.m. If you are outside the local listening area you can tune in on the web at www.ifan.tv. You can also view the game via UW-Superior's online media partner, AmericaOne. Jon Garver will have the call.