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April 18, 2024

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Hockey takes on U.S. National Development Team

The Falcons hockey team will play the U.S. National Development Team on Friday night, the Falcons’ final exhibition game before heading into the regular season.

“These are the top 18-year-old players in the country,” Chris Bergeron, Falcons head coach, said. “These young people want nothing more than to come into a college situation and beat the college team.”

With the National Development Team not being a typical university team, the team is expecting a different type of playing style, but will play them as hard as if they would a university team.

“For me, it’s not different because it’s a team in a different jersey and we want to beat them,” Bergeron said. “I don’t know what it’s like for the players. Some of our players that have come from the (United States Hockey League), they play them from a regular season standpoint in juniors. I don’t know how those games go, I don’t know if they’re like regular league games, but every kid on the team we’re playing is one year younger at least than every player on our team.”

The team’s most recent matchup against the National Development Team came on February 21, 2014, also as an exhibition game not counting towards regular season standings. However, the Falcons lost 6-1 in that game, something the team does not want to repeat.

“I like the fact that we’re playing them earlier in the year this time,” Bergeron said. “My experience is very limited in playing this group, I’ve only played them once before in BG… and they took it to us pretty good. Our guys wanted the weekend off, their guys were hungry to play and the result was what the result was.”

The team will also get a chance to further correct some mistakes that they saw in their victory over the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in their other exhibition game last Sunday.

“I don’t think we got to the type of game that we wanted to play, especially offensively,” Bergeron said. “We have some players that are capable of making plays through the neutral zone and kind off the rush, we’re not talking about that necessarily, but we turned over way too many pucks through the neutral zone, which ultimately ended up being 30 seconds of chasing it around versus doing something with purpose through the neutral zone and then get to an offensive game where we can grind people down and be relentless and those kinds of things.”

The team is also grateful to have another chance to prepare for the start of the season and further develop their younger players.

“I like the fact that we’re having a second exhibition game,” Bergeron said. “All of us within the program are NHL fans and they’ve got seven or eight exhibition games at the pro level to evaluate players and we get one, maybe two over the course of the season, to have two back to back for us, it’s going to be great and regardless of the result on Friday, we’re going to talk about process, we’re going to evaluate people individually, evaluate our team collectively and we’re teaching with the mindset of ‘let’s get better today’ and we’ll go from there.”

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