MEQUON, Wis. – The air has turned colder and the leaves are starting to fall, it is once again time for Falcon hockey. The CUW men's hockey team opens the 2018-19 on Friday night and looks to continue to build off of another strong season.
The Falcons are coming off a 16-9-2 campaign in 2017-18, where the Falcons posted the program's best record in a season. CUW finished second in the NHCA South with a record of 12-6-0. The Falcons are led by Jasen Wise, who is entering his seventh season as the head coach of the Concordia Wisconsin hockey program.
"What excites me the most about this season is the momentum we have built the past few years," said Wise. "We've improved each year in many areas and we want to continue on the winning path."
The Falcons many returners from last year, including the top seven point scorers for the Blue and White. Last year, Braydon Barker (Red Deer, Alta.) led the Falcons with 24 points, on six goals and 18 assists. Barker claimed the honor of the first All-American in program history in March, when he was selected as a Second Team AHCA/CCM All-American. Dante Hahn (Victoria, B.C.) also returns and led the Blue and White with 10 goals last season, including four power-play goals. Taylor Gauld (Whitby, Ont.), Josh Adkins (Victoria, B.C.), Nick Guiney (Victoria, B.C.), Nick Guerra (Victoria, B.C.) and Jim Pearson (Ashton, Ont.) all scored 10 or more points last year.
CUW has a familiar face between the pipes again this year. Nick Malvin (Ham Lake, Minn.) returns for the Falcons after a 13-win season. He posted a .917 save percentage and 629 saves.
"Our returning players are the key to our success this season," said Wise. "Our upperclassmen have established themselves as top players in a very competitive conference. Their experience and leadership is the cornerstone of our programs success. Their dedication to the game as well as being good students and good people is a great example for our younger players. It's not easy playing division III hockey, let alone playing in the toughest conference in the country. They are excelling in this very competitive environment."
The Blue and White added 12 new faces to the roster during the off-season.
"The newcomers are doing a great job of buying in and working hard," said Wise. "They are great people who want to become better hockey players. They absorb everything like a sponge and are making great strides every day. They each bring a skill set that is needed for our success this season. We are excited to see them play early and establish themselves as key players in our conference."
The Falcons will host 10 home games this season at Ozaukee Ice Center. CUW went 9-5-1 last year on home ice. In November, the Falcons will welcome St. Norbert and Finlandia before hosting UW-Stevens Point and Lake Forest in December. St. Scholastic, Northland and Aurora come to CUW in January and the final three games of the regular season will be at Ozaukee Ice Center with MSOE, Adrian and Trine.
"The schedule is always tough in the NCHA," said Wise. "We have the best conference in the country and we enjoy the challenge of winning games every weekend. There are no easy game in our conference and we embrace the challenge."
Not only did the Falcons excel on the ice, CUW returns eight players who earned a spot on the NHCA All-Academic Team.
CUW will open the 2019 calendar at the PathFinder Classic in Oswego, New York. On Jan. 4, the Falcons will face SUNY Canton and will either play Salve Regina or Oswego State on Jan. 5.
The Falcons were picked to finish in fifth place in the NCHA preseason poll. The poll had the Falcons as the second best team in the south, behind Adrian. St. Norbert is projected to finish first, after winning the national title earlier this year.
The puck drops on Friday night at UW-River Falls to open the season.