Men’s Hockey trounces Lawrence

Story by Eric Christenson

However you slice it, the UW-Eau Claire Men’s Hockey season opener was a strong start for the team.

Following a 5-goal second period, the Blugolds stomped the Lawrence University Vikings (Wis.) 6-2 at Hobbs Ice Center in Eau Claire on Saturday. However, it took a while for Eau Claire to get in their stride.

The Blugolds were put at an early disadvantage with a 5-minute major penalty on sophomore Andrew McCabe, allowing Lawrence to score on the ensuing power-play. Despite a number of Lawrence penalties, Eau Claire struggled throughout the first period with sloppy puck-handling and solid Lawrence goaltending.

“It started out a little sluggish,” said Blugold Head Coach Matt Loen, who is in his fourth year leading the team, “but we recovered well, and came out strong in the second period.”

Indeed they did, as the Blugolds came out of intermission with a dynamic second period putting up 5 goals and allowing none in. The Eau Claire scoring streak started with senior Tim Possehl striking the Blugold’s first goal of the year assisted by freshman Jared Williams and senior Ross Janecyk.

Simultaneously, the Vikings put up a minor tripping penalty giving Eau Claire the power-play and the momentum to score another goal within a minute from the first, courtesy of sophomore Isaiah Bennis.

With another goal by junior Andrew Wilcox and back-to-back goals by Janecyk, the Blugolds saw themselves boasting a 5-1 lead, which led Lawrence to replace their goalie.

Sophomore Blugold goalie Brandon Stephenson said that despite losing key players, McCabe and sophomore Jordan Singer, the team was able to manage and do well despite of that.

“It was a pretty good first showing for us,” Stephenson said, “For us to put up six goals with those two guys out of the game, it just shows that we have a really deep team.”

Stephenson said that there are key differences between this year’s team and past teams. He said that this year’s team is more flexible and instead of relying on a few critical players, the team has a lot more playmakers.

In the third period, a frustrated Vikings team managed to put one goal on the scoreboard, but not before Eau Claire notched one more as well, allowing them to secure their first victory of the season.

The Blugolds hit the road for their next four games, but the team is extremely young with 22 underclassmen on the roster. Stephenson sees this as an advantage though.

“As the year goes on, we’re only going to get better,” Stephenson said, “I think with the depth we have and the youth we have, that’s going to help us out especially once we start playing our conference games.”

Coach Loen is also confident in the way his young team played. Despite the sluggish start, he’s anticipating the way the team will perform on the road.

“It’s a war of attrition on the road,” Loen said, “I know what kind of team we have at home, now we’ve just got to figure out what we’re going to do on the road.”

At 7 p.m. next Friday the Blugolds travel to Minnesota to play Gustavus Adolphus.