Men’s hockey splits two NCHA games

After playing two games against the top-ranked team in the country, the Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.), the Eau Claire men’s hockey team had to be happy to take on some Northern Collegiate Hockey Association opponents this weekend.

While they didn’t play the top-ranked team, the Blugolds did play a team ranked in the top 10, traveling to ninth-ranked UW-Superior on Friday night.

Eau Claire jumped out to a 2-0 lead against the Yellowjackets, but were unable to hold the lead as Superior came back for a 7-3 victory.

“We just started making some mental mistakes,” senior Jamie Minor said. “They capitalized on our mistakes.”

In Saturday’s game, the Blugolds ended a three-game losing streak by shutting out the College of St. Scholastica (Minn.) 6-0.

The win gave the Blugolds a much needed boost.

“After Friday’s loss, it was good to go out and dominate somebody,” sophomore Ben Manny said.

Junior Scott Sutton got his second shutout of the year against St. Scholastica. He made 40 saves in the victory, one day after stopping 47 shots against Superior.

“It gives you a lot of confidence having him back there,” Minor said about Sutton. “We can count on him to even win some games by himself.”

One of the strong points of the weekend for Eau Claire was its power play. Seven of the Blugolds’ nine goals in the two games came with the man advantage, including five of the six against St. Scholastica.

Minor said the team had been working on the power play all week in practice.

“We were trying to work on a different break out of our defensive zone,” he said.

Minor had a goal and two assists against St. Scholastica, with each point coming on the power play. He added an assist against Superior to give him four points for the weekend.

Manny had the lone even strength goal for Eau Claire against St. Scholastica, and he had two assists on the weekend.

Sophomore defenseman Chris Hunter also had a good weekend, scoring a goal against Superior and getting two assists against St. Scholastica.

The next competition for Eau Claire is this weekend against two schools from Minnesota. Gustavus Adolphus College visits Hobbs on Friday and St. Olaf College comes on Saturday.

The Blugolds’ record for the season is now 5-4-1, and they are 3-2-1 in the NCHA conference.