The CUW Women's Hockey team enters the new year with a 5-4-0 start, which is a tie for the best nine game start in program history, also going 5-4-0 to begin the 2011-12 campaign. With the bulk of their conference schedule still to come, here are a few keys to the Falcons success.
Defensive Effort in Front Of The Net
Thus far, the Falcons have been at their best when they keep opponents from shooting. In five wins, the Falcons have held opponents to 25.6 shots per contest. The Falcons rank sixth overall in the conference in shots per game, so the lower they keep the opponents shot count, the better. CUW is 4-0-0 this season when limiting the opponent to 30 shots or less.
Combine keeping the opponent's shots low and the strong play of junior goaltender Jennifer DeGeorge (Waukesha, Wis.) and you create a winning combination for CUW. DeGeorge has spent more time in net than any other goalie in the conference (517:06), and is second in the NCHA in saves (230) and save percentage (.916). She is also one of only two goalies in the league who has started every one of her team's games, making her the anchor of the Falcons' defensive efforts.
Drawing First Blood
The Falcons are 5-1-0 when they score first and 4-0-0 when they outscore their opponents in the first period. The Falcons are a team that that does its best work early, helping keep their opponents at bay.
CUW has outscored opponents 8-2 in the first period in their wins and have been outscored 4-1 in the first in losses. The Falcons are also 4-1-0 when they score their first goal in the first five minutes of play. CUW scored its first goal of the season 25 seconds into their opening game against Finlandia, an 8-2 win.
CUW has succeeded in sharing the wealth when it comes to scoring. The Falcons have scored 24 goals and 49 points. Thirteen different Falcons have lit the lamp and 17 can claim a point. Freshman Veronika Metanova (Palatine, Ill.) leads CUW with three goals and six assists for nine points, with junior Emily Heckendorf (Merrill, Wis.) adding seven points (three goals, four assists). The Falcons are now ten goals short of tying last year's mark, a year that saw 15 skaters score.
In all but one of CUW's wins, multiple skaters scored. On average, at least two Falcons score per game, and the highest distribution came in the opener against Finlandia, when seven skaters found the back of net. Five different Falcons have scored two goals in a game this season.