By Jim den Hollander
For the second time in three years, a local hockey player has wrapped up the season as a national champion.
Selena Falzone, 18-year-old daughter of Dells Ducks Owner Shaun Falzone has spent the last year living in Baraboo but played hockey in Nashville with the AA Jr. Predators, traveling the same road as from RWD varsity player Trevor Slaght.
It was her second season commuting once a month to the country western capital to play hockey. The previous season she lived in the Dallas area but spent this year in Baraboo as the Falzone is in the midst of moving to the area.
Primarily playing on the wing this season, Falzone said in interview she is at least somewhat familiar with every position except goaltender.
As the daughter and sister of hockey players, Falzone naturally developed an interest in the sport at a young age, skating at the age of three and playing her youth hockey first in Chicagoland, then Texas before moving on to the AA squad in Nashville.
Falzone collected three goals and nine points with the Preds and provided a physical presence on the ice for her squad.
Last season, the Preds enjoyed a more successful campaign but lost out in semi-finals at Nationals. This year the team might not have been as successful through the season but saved its best hockey for the end and returned home with a national championship banner for its home arena.
The team’s lone stumble came in its opener at Nationals as the Preds dropped a 4-3 decision against the Idaho Vipers, both in the ‘American’ Division at the USA Hockey 19U Womens Tier 2 National Championship tournament March 30.
The team returned the following day though, shrAugging off its loss and bouncing pack with a 3-1 edge against the Alaska All Stars.
In its round-robin wrap up game on April 1 the Preds clinched a spot in the tournament quarter-finals with a 6-0 shutout against the Anaheim Lady Ducks.
The Preds returned on April 2 and advanced to semis with a 7-5 decision against the South Anchorage Oilers, breaking a 4-4 draw with a 3-1 margin through the final period — a trend that continued through the playoff rounds.
That evening the Preds took the ice again and punched its ticket to the National Championship game with a 6-3 doubling of the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers.
Only the Preds and Arizona Kachinas returned April 3 for the championship game that saw the Nasvhille crew fall behind beford rallying late.
After a scoreless opening period, the Kachinas opened a 2-0 second period cushion and led 3-1 early in the third.
A pair of goals from Heather Ajakie less than two minutes apart. finished off a hat trick with her eighth and ninth of the tournament, pulling the Preds even with still more than 11 minutes to play.
The game winner came from Devon Caveliere on a powerplay with 7:36 to play, putting the Preds in front for the first and only time in the contest.
It was a fitting swansong for Falzone who is stepping away from competitive hockey, at least at the AA level to focus on school. She will graduate high school in a few weeks and while she has been accepted at a couple top schools, including University of Minnesota, she will begin her post high school education at UW-Sauk County in Baraboo.
Still undecided on hockey, Falzone may look to play her final 19U season locally.