Men’s Hockey Hosting Playoff Games
Will Rossmiller

HockeyPlayoffs1.jpgEven after finishing the season with a 4-4 record in their last eight, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point men’s hockey team has clinched two home playoff games.

The Pointers, a three-seed, will play sixth-seed University of Wisconsin-River Falls in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association quarter-final on Friday and Saturday at 7:00 PM at K.B. Willet Arena.

“Home ice for us is huge,” said head coach Chris Brooks. “We have had great crowds at Willett all year, and home is an advantage that we wanted to be sure of.”

Stevens Point finished the season at 14-10-1, with a conference record of 8-9-1.

“The team has been up and down for the last month. We have played some of our best hockey, and other nights we have been average,” Brooks said.

The Pointers did have a rollercoaster finish to the season, but they know they can’t dwell on the past. They also know they have to step up their game now.

“I would have liked for us to be more consistent with our games lately, but now the regular season is over, and we can’t look back,” said team captain Jerry Freismuth, senior forward. “We are looking forward to playoffs and playing a more consistent game.”

A common response from the players to the playoff games was excitement. They want to prove they can play at a high level.

“Playoffs is a different level of hockey, and I think our team is really excited and ready to get this week of practice going and be ready to go on Friday night,” said sophomore forward Andrew Kolb.

“I expect it to be a battle,” said sophomore forward Joshua Daley. “Playoffs are a whole different game. There is no room for error from either team.”

This season the Pointers have experienced success because of a collection of players that can get the puck in the net, an element that last year’s team did not possess.

Kyle Heck, last year’s leading scorer, leads the team with 12 goals this season, but other players have stepped up to join Heck in scoring.

Stevens Point has eight players that have scored at least six goals and nine players with at least eight assists.

“In order to be successful, selfish behavior cannot be accepted,” Brooks said. “Our guys have done a good job buying into the team first concept.”

Therefore, the Pointers look forward to University of Wisconsin- River Falls, a team that Stevens Point defeated and tied with in mid- November of this season.

The Falcons finished the season 12-9-2, with a 4-5-3 conference record. Rivers Falls has also hit a rough patch lately, winning only two of their last eight games.

The Pointers’ expectations have them going past River Falls. Coach Brooks and his players believe this team has the potential to make a deep run.

“I think we can make it to the NCAA final four,” Kolb said. “We can be a real hard team to play against when we have everything rolling and everyone is on the same page.”

“The sky’s the limit for us,” Daley said. “If we play our game and execute Coach’s systems well, there is no reason we shouldn’t win it all.”

“I have high expectations for our team, and winning the National Championship is a goal we believe we can achieve,” Freismuth said.