Hockey sweeps Alabama-Huntsville

By Zane Miller and By Zane Miller

The Falcons hockey team swept the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers, winning 7-0 on Friday and 2-0 on Saturday night in their final regular series of the season to clinch the fourth and final home ice playoff seed.

“I thought our effort was good,” Falcons Head coach Chris Bergeron said. “I thought our guys respected our opponent, and they’re a good team, especially through the neutral zone and off the rush. They really come at you with speed, and I don’t think we handled it great, but that’s a compliment to them, but I thought our guys were engaged for the most part and were ready to go.”

Friday’s game began with senior forward Kevin Dufour beating two defenders to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead at the 9:37 mark of the first period. Dufour followed with his second goal of the game at 14:28 and put the Falcons ahead 2-0 at the end of the first. In the second period, the team took advantage of a power play chance as junior forward Mitch McLain scored to give the team a 3-0 lead after two periods. In the third, the offense erupted for the Falcons as sophomore defenseman Adam Smith scored his first goal of the season on a power play at 5:14. Less than two minutes later, Dufour completed his first collegiate hat trick with another power play goal to put the Falcons ahead 5-0. With just over a minute to go in the game, freshman forward Frederic Letourneau scored the team’s fourth power play goal of the game and freshman defenseman Alec Rauhauser tacked on another goal with 31 seconds left to give the Falcons a 7-0 victory.

“We were just opportunistic around the other team’s net,” Bergeron said. “Obviously Kevin Dufour got us going there with two big goals in the first period, and we just kind of carried on from there.”

On Saturday, the scoring started early for the Falcons, as junior forward Tyler Spezia put the team up 1-0 at the 8:49 mark of the first period. It wasn’t long before senior defenseman Sean Walker doubled the lead at 13:25 to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead going into the second period. In the second, both teams were able to hold each other off the board despite a number of power play opportunities for both sides. The third period was similar to the second, as both teams again had power play chances but held each other scoreless. The early goals scored by the Falcons were enough to take the 2-0 victory as well as home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

“I thought we made it difficult for them to earn the zone, five against four in particular,” Bergeron said. “I thought we were a little bit better with our clears tonight overall. With 12 power plays, it’s hard to remember each one of them, but ultimately I liked the fact that we found a way.”

The team will play next Friday and Saturday night in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs at home against the Ferris State Bulldogs.

“It’s very helpful (playing on home ice),” Walker said. “The Slater Family Ice Arena is such a great place to play and having a home ice advantage going into the first round of the playoffs is so big. So to get that four years in a row, and obviously we’ve been successful at home in the playoffs in the past, we’ve struggled a little bit this year at home, but going into the playoffs I think we’ve got some momentum right now and it’ll help us a lot.”