RIVER FALLS, Wis. — Both Wis.-River Falls and Augsburg came into tonight’s matchup having lost their previous game. As might be expected, both schools were looking to come out with a better effort this time, and both came out of the gate strong.
The first period saw both teams controlling stretches of play and generating chances. Augsburg had chances on the power play in the first half of the period, but weren’t able to produce on the man advantage. The Auggies went 0-6 on their power plays for the game.
“The only negative for us this game was the power play,” said Augsberg coach Chris Brown. “I felt we were able to move the puck and keep pressure on, but we just weren’t able to convert. We need to be able to put some of those chances in to be successful.”
When asked about his team’s effort early on, Wisconsin coach Steve Freeman said “I thought we came out pretty good. We had some chances and we kind of wanted to play up the game a little more. On the wall and in the corners, we wanted to get a good cycle going. We have a long way to go, but we like our start.”
Late in the period, Augsburg controlled the puck in the River Falls’ end when a pass to the point hopped over a defenseman’s stick. River Falls gained possession and got it deep into the Augsburg end. After a pass from behind the net, the puck ended up underneath Augsburg goalie Jon Zitur and River Falls’ Sean Roadhouse managed to poke the puck into the net before it could be covered.
The second period started off with scoring chances for both teams. Coming right at the end of an Augsburg power play, River Falls got a two-on-one breakaway, but Zitur came up with a big save to keep it a one goal lead.
“I thought he played well,” said Brown. “He may be a sophomore, but he was making his first college start tonight.”
Shortly after that save, River Falls’ Bo Storozuk came up with a big save of his own. Augsburg had a flurry right in front of Storozuk, but he was able to turn all of them away to keep the Falcons in the lead.
Near the end of the second period, Augsburg generated perhaps their best chance of the game. Following a quick pass out of their own zone, the Auggies got a two-on-one breakaway of their own. A cross-pass froze Storozuk, but the shot went wide of the net.
The third period started off slow, with the Falcons doing an excellent job clogging up passing lanes and keeping Augsburg from gaining the zone. Each team got a power play, but neither was able to generate much pressure.
Both coaches had similar views of the game.
“River Falls did a great job packing it in, blocking shots, and forcing things to the outside,” Brown said. “Their goalie did a great job controlling rebounds and limiting second chances.”
When asked about his goalie, Freeman said, “He was outstanding. He didn’t have any wasted movements and he said he was really seeing the puck well tonight and that’s the key to our team right now. Our penalty killers and everyone were doing a good job keeping things away from the front of the net and he was able to see everything.”
While much of the third period was played in the neutral zone, the end of it saw a furious charge by Augsburg. Several times, they controlled play in the River Falls’ end and put pucks on net, but each time the Auggies put on pressure, the Falcons cleared the puck out of the zone, and Sean Roadhouse’s first period goal ended up being the game-winner.
While Zitur let in the game’s only goal, his 24 saves kept the Auggies in the mix for the entire game.
“We played hard, but I think not scoring kind of built up,” Brown said. “By the third period, we were gripping our sticks a little tight. I’m pleased with how we played though; if we play like that all season, we’re going to get more than our fair share of wins.”
Storozuk made 34 saves for his fourth win of the season.
“Our penalty kill has been good all year and the goaltender is the key to that,” Freeman said. “We took too many penalties. I felt pretty comfortable with the way we were playing until we got in penalty trouble. ”
The Auggies dropped to 2-2-0 on the season while the Falcons improved to 4-1-0.