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Big 9 on the line for Falcons

By By: Mark Remme Faribault Daily News, 02/18/10, 7:11AM CST


Boys hockey preview

Faribault (17-6, 7-1 Big 9) vs. Rochester Mayo (5-17, 3-4)

Thursday, 7:30 p.m. — Faribault Ice Arena

From Day 1, the Faribault High School boys hockey team set a regular season goal to win the Big 9 Conference for the first time in school history.

On Thursday, the Falcons can make it a reality. If FHS defeats Rochester Mayo at the Faribault Ice Arena, it will secure an 8-1 conference record and will earn at least a share of the Big 9. The puck is set to drop at 7:30 p.m.

“They have a chance to do something on Thursday that’s never happened to our hockey program since the beginning in 1975,” coach Brad Ryan said. “I’m sure they’ll be very proud of the opportunity and do the best they can and let the chips fall as they may.”

Certainly, FHS (17-6, 7-1 Big 9) has earned this opportunity.  The Falcons have cruised through the conference this year, most recently downing Winona by a 6-1 margin last Thursday. The team’s lone Big 9 defeat came to Albert Lea on Jan. 28, the first of back-to-back losses that prompted the Falcons to make personnel shifts both on defense and with their forwards.

The results have been staggering. FHS is on a five-game winning streak that includes two shutouts and a memorable 6-5 overtime win against co-conference leading Rochester Century.

Now, the Falcons have one obstacle ahead in Mayo (5-17, 3-4). Ryan said keys to victory include a strong forecheck, physical play and special teams — not to mention putting Faribault’s home-ice advantage to good use.

If the Falcons win these battles, Ryan said they should be the first team in school history to take home the Big 9 crown.

“If they’re playing not to lose, they’re not playing correctly,” Ryan said. “Ultimately they need to come to the rink with the idea of what they need to do best.”