Men’s hockey loses

The men’s hockey team dropped a pair of games and had three players sidelined with injuries during a rough weekend road trip.

After losing a tight game Friday night to Lake Forest College (Ill.), the Blugolds were beaten badly by national powerhouse St. Norbert College Saturday night in De Pere.

St. Norbert, the No. 2 Div. III team in the nation, scored four goals in the first period, three in the second and one in the third to remain undefeated through seven games.

Against Lake Forest, the Blugolds trailed only 1-0 until the Foresters added an empty net goal with 40 seconds left in the game.

St. Norbert outshot the Blugolds 43-19, while Lake Forest held a 46-19 advantage in the shots-on-goal category.

Senior Ian Sgambelluri said the Blugolds are creating enough scoring opportunities, just not converting.

“We really have to work on finishing,” he said.

Senior goalie Scott Sutton made 44 saves versus Lake Forest and 35 against St. Norbert.

Sophomore Phil Cherneski scored the Blugolds’ only goal of the weekend in the third period against St. Norbert. Senior Justin Kaufenberg and freshman Chip Dunleavy assisted Cherneski.

St. Norbert’s win was its fourth straight against Eau Claire. Lake Forest snapped a three-game losing streak against the Blugolds.

Despite the setbacks, coach Jean Laforest did not criticize his team’s play.

He said he was pleased with its effort and expects that there will be a lot of growing pains throughout what he considers a rebuilding season.

“This year, given what we’ve inherited, I can’t chastise our guys,” Laforest said. “We have to measure our success this season in inches, not leaps and bounds.”

Seniors Joe Byrd and Matt Gehr and sophomore Greg Harris left the ice early in Saturday’s game, further paralyzing the squad.

Laforest said the team will know the seriousness of the recent injuries early this week.

The Blugolds are operating with a 21-man bench that Laforest called “very thin.”

There are only three freshmen on the roster.

Several young players with limited game experience will likely be thrust into action in upcoming games, Laforest said.

Much of the Blugolds’ improvement will be determined by how quickly they get comfortable on the rink.

“I think we’re going to play a lot better once some of the young guys start seeing more of the ice,” Sgambelluri said.

Eau Claire will take on a pair of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams this weekend at Hobbs Arena.

The Blugolds host St. John’s University Friday and Concordia University Saturday. Both games are scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Eau Claire beat both teams on the road last season.