MEQUON, Wis. - With only eight games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Concordia University Wisconsin men's hockey team is still alive in the race for MCHA playoff qualification.
The Falcons (2-12-3, 2-8-2 MCHA) have been turning in some impressive performances as of late, but haven't gotten the results to back up their strong play.
Over the course of a two-game series against Finlandia University at home on January 13th and 14th, CUW exploded to score a combined 11 goals, but allowed the Lions to steal the second of the two match-ups after giving up some goals late in the third period.
In two games against Northland College last weekend, the Falcons fired a combined 85 shots on goal while generating plenty of quality scoring chances; but were forced to settle for a loss and a tie.
"We played well in both of those (Northland) games, but just couldn't bury our chances," head coach Tony Hrkac said. "On Saturday (a 3-3 tie), we had a great two periods and had a 2-1 lead, but had a small lapse in the third period where we let them get a couple goals on us."
The third period hasn't been very kind to the Falcons lately.
Over its last four games, CUW has given up 10 goals in the final frame; a statistic that has had a significant impact on the team's conference record.
Hrkac says that his team simply has to keep up the intensity after gaining leads if they hope to be on top when the final horn sounds.
"We have to get better at closing games out," Hrkac said. "When we have the lead, we're playing not to lose instead of playing to win. We just have to keep playing aggressively and play the way that got us the lead in the first place."
The Falcons continue their second-half stretch with a "home-and-home" series against Lake Forest College this coming weekend.
The last time these two teams met on November 12th, CUW ran away with a 5-2 victory behind a hat trick from sophomore Russell Johnson (Monticello, Minn.) at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
To duplicate more of that success this weekend, Hrkac says it's just a matter of sticking to the game plan and playing well in both zones.
"We just need to keep playing our game, get the puck in deep, and make them play in their end," Hrkac said. "We just need to worry about what we're doing, not what they're going to do."
Friday night's game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. at the Ozaukee Ice Center, before the Falcons and Foresters clash again on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. inside the Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.