FU men’s hockey hopes changes make impact
RIVER FALLS, Wis. — With the men’s college hockey season being so short at the NCAA Division III level, there is never a bad time to make some lineup changes. Head coach Joe Burcar shifted a couple of players to the junior varsity team and called up two others last weekend, and while the results were not ideal Friday night in a 10-1 loss to No. 2 Adrian, the moves paid off on Saturday in a 2-2 tie with Trine.
“Adrian is a team that is playing really good hockey right now,” said Burcar. “More importantly, we want to get to that standpoint. We made some major lineup changes. I liked how we responded to that. There was tremendous growth that night.”
On Friday, Burcar started his “transfer” line of Bryce Mitzel, Blake Peavy and Michael Chuinard. The trio combined for the lone Lions goal in the second period. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs scored the game’s next five goals to put the game out of reach.
On Saturday, the trio again got to work and gave the Lions their first lead of the season with a goal late in the second period when Chuinard tallied.
Despite surrendering a goal in the third period to even the game, freshman goaltender Marcus Gloss made 21 stops in the contest to earn the tie. The Houghton native has impressed his coaching staff early in his first season with the team.
“We didn’t want to just throw him in the fire,” said Burcar. “We gave him time to get ready for the collegiate game … He’s very composed. His composure on the ice is unbelievable.”
The other Lions goal was scored by sophomore center Danny Hill. The Hancock native continues to look good skating on the top line for Finlandia. Hill, along with captain Alex Rezansoff and freshman defenseman Phil Garcia, are all off to strong starts despite the team’s early-season struggles.
“Danny Hill is a great story,” said Burcar, singling out the sophomore. “They [Hill, Rezansoff and Garcia] competed at a high level. They continue to work. They continue to listen. They are paying attention to what is going on.
“Danny Hill is a guy that just continues to get better every week, every day, every game here.”
Burcar and his staff were pleased with the effort the Lions gave on Saturday, taking control of the game after the Thunder evened things at 2-2. In the overtime session, the Lions outshot the Thunder 6-0 but could not find that third goal.
This weekend, the Lions head first to face Wisconsin-River Falls tonight at Hunt Arena. The Falcons are off to a slow start, having gone 0-5-1 to start the season. They lost to Concordia University in their season opener, 4-3.
On Saturday, the Lions head to Superior to take on Wisconsin-Superior at the Siinto S. Wessman Arena. The Yellowjackets are also off to a slow start, having earned their first win of the season 3-2 last Saturday at St. Olaf.