Blugolds shut out St. John’s after falling to Concordia in home opener

Janie Boschma

Penalties that plagued the UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team Friday, but ended up in the team’s favor Saturday.

Eau Claire split last weekend’s games at home, losing Friday to Concordia College (Minn.) 2-1 and coming back Saturday to shut out St. John’s University (Minn.) 1-0.

Although the Blugolds outshot the Cobbers 32-19, they couldn’t get the puck past the Concordia goalkeeper who had 31 saves. Eau Claire’s 10 penalties did not help as both of Concordia’s goals were scored on power plays.

“That’s a team we should have beat but with penalties and a good goalie we just had to leave it behind us and move forward to (Saturday),” coach Matt Loen said.

The Cobbers scored in the first period and Eau Claire was able to tie it up in the second with a goal by junior Andrew Johnson. Junior Greg Petersen and senior Sean Garrity assisted on the play. The Cobbers took the lead later in the period with another power play goal and Eau Claire was unable to recover.

Friday was the first time Eau Claire lost to Concordia since 2002.

The Blugolds turned it around Saturday. Thanks to a shutout performance by goalie Tyler Brigl and a well-executed play in the third period by sophomore Bryan Plaszcz and junior Dan Fina, Eau Claire pulled out a win.

Loen said the team was more prepared for Saturday’s game.

The game remained scoreless until 11:09 in the second when sophomore Bryan Plaszcz put one in the net off of an assist from junior Dan Fina.

Brigl had 27 saves in the game bringing his season total so far to 84.

“We expect that from Tyler, he’s a competitive kid,” Loen said.

Brigl credits a big part of the win to Eau Claire’s defense.

“(St. John’s is) a good team, (our) defense played well and shut them down,” Brigl said.

Plaszcz said that avoiding penalties was a main focus of Saturday’s game.

“We just knew we had to start over and start from scratch,” he said. “We just tried to stay out of the stuff after the whistle.”

Another thing Loen said has helped the team is its depth.

“It’s competitive, every week in practice the guys are earning their spot. No player’s spot is solidified on this team and that’s a good thing to have.”

The Blugolds will be on the road this weekend when they take on St. Mary’s (Minn.) Friday.