Hunt Arena at UW-River Falls’ Falcon Center will be a busy place this weekend when both the Falcon men’s and women’s hockey teams open their respective seasons at home.
The UWRF men kick things off with their season opener against Finlandia University Friday night, Nov. 1, at 7:05 p.m.
Both teams will hit the Hunt Arena ice Saturday, Nov. 2, with the women taking on Lake Forest College at 2:05 p.m. and the men facing Finlandia at 7:05 p.m. The Falcon women will wrap up the weekend Sunday against Lake Forest in a 2:05 p.m. puck drop.
Both the UWRF men and women feature the longest tenured coaches in the WIAC with men’s coach Steve Freeman entering his 24th season at the helm, tied with UW-Stout’s Terry Watkins, while Joe Cranston has been coaching the Falcon women since the team’s inaugural season of 1999 and has compiled a career record of 378-144-43.
Freeman, the winningest coach in WIAC men’s history, is 12 victories away from 400 in his career. He would become the 14th coach in the NCAA Division III archives to reach the mark.
The Falcon women have won six straight WIAC titles and are picked to win it again this season, according to a preseason poll conducted by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. The Falcons made their 11th NCAA tournament appearance a year ago and finished with at least 20 wins for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons.
The Falcon men are picked to finish fourth this season after finishing 12-11-5 overall last year. UW-Stevens Point, the defending national champion and three-time defending conference champion, has been tabbed by the league’s coaches and athletic directors as the favorite to repeat as conference champs.