Men’s hockey falls to St. Norbert, Lake Forest

Kyle Seidel

Just 24 hours after a draining, come-from-behind 5-4 loss to No. 2 St. Norbert, the UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team fell behind 3-0 to Lake Forest (Ill.) in the first period, and lost 5-1 Saturday night at Hobbs Ice Arena.

The Blugolds (8-10-3 overall, 1-7-2 conference) gave up three goals in the first and one more just 25 seconds into the second before senior Pete Eloranta scored his seventh goal of the season to cut the lead to 4-1.

Despite playing short-handed all night due to injuries, the ‘Golds did not use their aching roster or Friday night’s game as an excuse for Saturday’s loss.

“It was a bit of a letdown tonight,” sophomore defenseman Dan Lohr said. “We didn’t play as well as we thought we would of and as well as we did last night.”

Besides a late power play goal with a few minutes left in the game, the Blugolds played the Foresters to a 1-1 tie after the first period.

Coach Jean LaForest said that while that statistic is nice, Eau Claire takes nothing from moral victories.

“Those moral victories are fine to discuss but they don’t result in any wins,” LaForest said. “It’s not enough for us. We want to win games.”

Blugolds 2
St. Norbert 4

Blugolds 1
Lake Forest 5
Up next: UW-Superior,
7:05 p.m. Sunday
at Hobbs Ice Arena

Friday’s loss came after the Blugolds rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period against the St. Norbert Green Knights, who are undefeated in NCHA play.

Down 4-2, sophomore Brooks Lockwood was assisted by senior Ben Manny on a two-on-one breakaway to cut the lead to 4-3.

Then, after a St. Norbert goal to extend the lead back to two, Eloranta’s backhanded goal brought the Blugolds within one with more than eight minutes to play.

But the Green Knights defense did not yield for the rest of the game, holding on for the win.

Despite the loss, LaForest said the Blugolds played as well as any game he has seen in his time coaching for Eau Claire.

“We can play with any team in the conference,” LaForest said. “It’s probably one of the best games we played here since I’ve been here.”

LaForest said the Blugolds couldn’t have competed with St. Norbert two seasons ago, and are now “nipping at their heels.”

With just four games left in the season, junior defenseman Sean Clark said the Blugolds have the opportunity to gain some momentum before the playoffs.

“We just got to come out and play our best hockey next weekend and the weekend after,” Clark said. “Then hopefully we can move up a couple spots and … see if we can’t do some damage in the playoffs.”