Heckendorf lights the lamp for Falcons? women?s hockey team
Merrill native Emily Heckendorf just wrapped up one of the premier scoring seasons in Concordia University Wisconsin women’s hockey history.
Heckendorf scored 17 goals in her senior season to set a new CUW record, and ended up with 27 points in leading the Falcons to their first Slaats Cup Final, the championship for the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association. Emily finished with a career 72 points, the third-most in school annals.
Those accomplishments made her just the fourth CUW player to earn All-NCHA honors.
“It’s a great honor,” Heckendorf said. “We have a really strong conference, so anytime you can get recognized is special.
“I was named All-Conference my freshman year and I didn’t make it back until my senior year, so it was a nice way to end my career. I was just one or two points away from second place in scoring and just two goals shy of breaking the all-time goals-scored record.”
Emily knows it takes teamwork to put up those types of numbers, and she gladly gave credit to fellow lines-mates Lexi Machuga and Veronica Metanova, who was an All-Freshman selection last year like Heckendorf was in the 2011-12 season..
“I had the same line all year,” she said. “Almost every goal I scored had an assist. We had an 11-game point streak, where all of us were getting points every game. It was just nuts.
“We moved the puck extremely well and knew where the other players were once we got the puck in the offensive zone. No matter what they threw at us, we knew where the other player was gong to be and we could just react from that.”
Heckendorf also credited the discipline new coach Steve Sabiilli instilled.
“He was coming over from a guys team, so we didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out pretty well for us,” Emily said. “He didn’t put up with any of the drama that can come from a girls team. He just focused on the hockey and the systems, and putting the best team out there every game.”
Despite all the records and accolades, the season ended with a huge disappointment.
After upsetting St. Scholastica in the semi-finals, CUW dropped a 2-1 final on March 7 to Lake Forest on a goal with just 3.3 seconds remaining. A win would have put them in the national tournament.
“It was kind of heart-breaking,” Emily said. “You work so hard and it was such a great game, even though we didn’t feel like we played our best game. We started strong but we were disappointed to not be able to maintain the momentum to the end.
“We’re still proud of the season we had, especially knocking off Adrian in the semi-final, so they didn’t get a bid to the national tournament even though they only lost two games all year. We were so close to them so many times, and to finally beat them on their own ice was nice.”
CUW edged Adrian 2-1 on March 6. Lake Forest earned the NCHA automatic berth in the eight-team nationals, but lost 3-1 to River Falls in the opener. The WIAC doesn’t get an automatic bid.
Heckendorf also holds the CUW career record for most multiple-goal games with eight – highlighted by a hattrick game against Marian College on February 13 – and scored in nine consecutive games from January 30 through the NCHA semifinals. CUW (12-11-5) tallied the second-most wins in team history.