Men’s hockey now at 1-1 in conference standings

Story by Breann Schossow

The Blugolds stayed in control for most of Friday night’s game against the Falcons, especially playing well in the second and third periods, Head Coach of the men’s hockey team Matt Loen said.

Loen said the main goal of last weekend’s game against UW-River Falls was to play well, especially because their opponent beat them out in last year’s playoffs.

“I think we had to go in and be ready, be prepared,” Loen said, adding that they wanted to show 14th-ranked River Falls that they were in for a long weekend.

Then, everything changed, with a pair of power plays by the Falcons, putting the final score at 3-2 in favor of River Falls.

“That was a shocking finish,” Loen said. “It’s unfortunate that we lost that game because I thought we had that game in control.”

Like Loen, senior forward Ross Janecyk was surprised about the conclusion, specifically regarding some of the final calls. In the end, he said, penalties hurt the team the most.

“I can make excuses … but I would say that sometimes that’s just how it ends up,” he said.

However, that wasn’t the end for the Blugolds, who had a rematch to look forward to on Saturday night. It was, Loen said, a chance for the men’s hockey team to see what they were made of.

“A lot of teams would probably crumble after that,” Loen said, especially since the Blugolds planned to win Friday’s game, or at least tie.

Janecyk said that the team went into Saturday night’s game thinking about how if they stayed outside of the penalty box, River Falls would be in the box. And that’s exactly what happened.

Saturday night turned out to have a very different ending, though, with the Blugolds holding the Falcons to 19 shots on goal and winning the game with a final score of 6-3.

“I thought that was a huge accomplishment to our team,” Loen said about the men holding their opponents to 19 shots. “They’re a pretty skilled team.”

Janecyk said the most exciting part of Saturday’s game occurred before and after the game. He said that before, he could sense that the team was ready to go.

“Everyone was ready to do whatever it took to get the win,” he said.

Loen said it was good to see Janecyk earn three goals, one of which was assisted by sophomore Kurt Weston, leading to a hat trick in the final seconds of the game.

“It’s fun to see that unselfish play,” Loen said of the teamwork between the two players.

Friday and Saturday were the first two conference games of UW-Eau Claire’s season, bringing them to 1-1 in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association standings. Loen said that there’s no reason for the team to think they can’t win any of their future games.

“If we play to our capability, we can beat anyone,” he said.

The Blugolds will host UW-Superior at 7 p.m. this Friday and Saturday night at Hobbs Ice Center.