UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
March 14, 2015--For the second straight year, the UW-River Falls Falcons defeated the Lake Forest College Foresters in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals in River Falls, Wisconsin, vaulting the Falcons into next weekend's semifinals.
UWRF defeated the visiting Foresters 3-1 this time around, and set a school record with its 25th win of the season, a record previously set in 2011-2012.
"It's been a great year for us," said Falcons Head Coach Joe Cranston. "The 25 wins are a great accomplishment for our team, obviously, especially with us going back to the semifinals for our second straight year."
While the shots on goal were lopsided, the play on the ice wasn't. Lake Forest proved why it won the NCHA Tournament Championship while speed and quality goaltending. The Falcons, however, built a two-goal lead in the first period, and the Foresters were never quite able to take command of the hockey game.
Falcons freshman forward Carly Moran had the best scoring chance in the opening seven minutes of the first period as she slipped around a Forester defender on the left boards and fired a wrist shot on Lake Forest junior goaltender Allie Carter (8-7-2). Carter made the pad save look easy as she dropped into the butterfly.
The Falcons earned the game's first power play at 8:29 of the first period after Foresters sophomore forward Allie Girard was called for tripping at her own blue line. Falcons junior forward Chloe Kinsel, who holds the school record for points in a season, had an end-to-end rush get denied by Carter's right pad. The Forester penalty kill looked strong in the first.
Foresters senior forward Laura Reckdenwald slung a wrist shot off the crossbar with 6:30 left in the first period, but the puck took a friendly Falcons bounce. Reckdenwald appeared to be simply dumping the puck in from the left boards, near the blue line, but Falcons freshman goaltender Angie Hall (22-3-1) was fooled and the puck ripped past her right shoulder and off the crossbar. A Falcons defenseman quickly eliminated the threat by flinging the puck out of the defensive zone.
Kinsel opened the scoring with a highlight-reel goal from her knees at 15:12 of the first period. Kinsel skated in on three Foresters, walked around one, fell to her knees, and wristed a shot past Carter's blocker to put UWRF ahead 1-0. Kinsel's team-leading 22nd goal of the season was assisted by junior defenseman Dani Buehrer and sophomore forward Brianna Breiland. Buehrer's assist was her sixth of the season, while Breiland bumped her assist total to 16.Falcons freshman forward Dani Kocina buried a rebound at 18:57 of the first period to put UWRF ahead 2-0.
Falcons freshman forward Amy Auran took the initial shot that Carter pushed aside, but Kocina slipped behind a Foresters defenseman and slammed the puck into a wide-open net. Kocina's tally was her ninth of the season, while Auran upped her assist total to three.
UWRF carried a 2-0 lead into the second period. The Falcons outshot Lake Forest 11-2 in the first period. UWRF went 0-2 on the power play in the first, while Lake Forest opened the second period with 1:09 left on its first power play. Kinsel already had five shots on goal through one period; no other player, on either team, had more than one in the first.
The Foresters earned its second straight power play with 17:39 left in the second period as Falcons senior defenseman Allie Olson was called for checking near center ice, and it didn't take long before Foresters senior forward Morgan Pope poked home her ninth goal of the season at 2:52. Foresters junior forward Michelle Greeneway was robbed by Hall's right pad on a one-timer, but Greeneway backhanded the rebound underneath Hall and Pope did the rest. Pope dove head-first into the crease to poke the loose puck past Hall. Greeneway earned her 12th assist of the season on the goal, which brought Lake Forest within one at 2-1. The Foresters were buzzing all around the UWRF net following the goal.
Falcons sophomore forward Karleigh Wolkerstorfer hit a crossbar of her own with 11 minutes left in the second period as she backhanded a shot from the top of the crease. The puck redirected off Carter's right shoulder and lightly found iron but no twine.
Both teams exchanged blows in the middle portion of the second period. In four occasions, UWRF chances led to Lake Forest odd-man rushes.
The speedy Reckenwald burned past Falcons sophomore defenseman Paige Johnson (not an easy task) and threw the puck at Hall, which was nearly popped in by Pope with five minutes left in the second.
Moments later, Foresters junior forward Melissa Paluch rang a hard wrist shot off the right post from the top of the circle. Paluch's shot was seemingly fired out of a cannon, and Forester fans thought the game was tied for a fraction of a second.
A borderline hooking call on Foresters freshman defenseman Kayla Griffith led to a third UWRF power play at 18:25 of the second period. The Lake Forest bench was not happy with the call.
UWRF carried a 2-1 lead into the third period. Second period shots on goal were 6-6. Pope led Lake Forest with three shots on goal through two periods. The Foresters went 1-2 on the power play in the second, while UWRF opened the third period with 25 seconds left on its third power play opportunity.
Carter made four strong saves in the first 56 seconds of the third period to keep Lake Forest within one. The Falcons used the tail-end of its third power play to get the early momentum, and UWRF eventually found a chink in Carter's armor.
A Wolkerstorfer spin-o-rama goal at 1:43 of the third period doubled the lead once again, putting UWRF in the driver seat with a brand new 3-1 lead. Falcons sophomore forward Dani Sibley took the initial shot with the rebound lying in front of Carter, and Wolkerstorfer picked up the loose puck, did a 180, and whipped the puck between Carter's legs. Wolkerstorfer's goal was her 13th of the season, while Sibley upped her assist total to 20.
Pope was denied not once, but twice, by Hall's right pad with six minutes left in the game as Pope was fed beautifully from the corner by teammate Holly Lesperance. Despite a lack of shots on goal, seemingly every Forester scoring chance came from a prime area of the rink and Hall had to be agile.
The Foresters pulled Carter after a timeout with 2:13 left in the third, because Lake Forest had an offensive draw to Hall's right. Lake Forest scored soon after the faceoff, with 1:46 left in the third, but the goal was waved off because of a high stick. The puck was redirected off something or someone well above the crossbar
.Kinsel and Falcons senior forward Alice Cranston both missed empty nets from the offensive blue line, but the Foresters were never able to get sustained pressure on Hall after the disallowed goal.
"We didn't capitalize on our chances, and River Falls did," said Foresters Head Coach Carisa Zaban. "River Falls is a great team and we wish them well in the semifinals; they'll represent the West very well."
The Falcons outshot Lake Forest 32-15 on the afternoon. UWRF went 0-4 on the power play, while Lake Forest finished 1-3. Kinsel led both teams with eight shots on goal. Pope led the Foresters with five shots. Carter was strong all night, making 29 saves, while Hall stopped 14 in the win.
The back-to-back WIAC regular season and tournament champions UWRF improves to 25-3-1 overall, 16-2 at home, and are unbeaten since Dec. 10. The back-to-back NCHA tournament champions Lake Forest falls to 14-9-3 overall and 3-8-2 on the road, while snapping its four-game winning streak.
The two teams also met in River Falls on Feb. 8, and UWRF won that contest 1-0 thanks to a lone goal from Kocina. Today's game was the 43rd meeting between these two former NCHA rivals and UWRF now owns a 34-5-4 record against Lake Forest.
The Falcons move on to face the Elmira College Soaring Eagles in the NCAA Semifinals. The puck will drop at 7 p.m. (ET) on Friday, March 20, in Plattsburgh, New York.