Eau Claire blanks opponents

Story by Sam Rosenberry

The men’s hockey team won both of their final regular season games this weekend after failing to get a victory in the previous two weeks.

In both games, the Blugolds soundly defeated their opponents 3-0. Neither team could figure out how to get past sophomore goaltender Brandon Stephenson, who stopped all 52 shots he faced.

“He (Stephenson) was excellent,” head coach Matt Loen said, “… he did a really nice (job) at controlling his rebounds. Gobbled up pucks, too.”

Sophomore Jordan Singer also thought Stephenson played very well and that he is playing his “A-game” right now.

St. Scholastica — Friday night
In the final home game of the regular season, the Blugolds were able to defeat the Saints behind two power play goals.

Sophomore Bryce Wilcox scored the first and sophomore Travis Peckskamp scored the second.

This would prove to be more than enough of a cushion for Stephenson and the team’s defense, but sophomore Eric O’Hearn was able to net another anyway. All three goals were scored in the first two periods.

The game saw nine different players with one point and no skater had multiple points. This is not surprising to Loen.

“There’s not a guy on our team that doesn’t deserve to be in our lineup, so that’s a good thing to have,” Loen said. “There’s lots of competition during practice for a spot in the lineup. It’s been good getting scoring from multiple lines.”

UW-Superior — Saturday night
The Blugolds were able to carry over their success from the previous game into Saturday night’s game at Superior. Once again, they prevented their opponent from getting a single goal.

This game was similar to Friday night’s game in that many Blugolds were able to contribute. Saturday’s game saw eight individuals getting a point. Peckskamp was the only player who got multiple points with a goal and an assist.

Singer is as unsurprised about his team’s depth as Loen is.

“We’ve always been a really deep team,” Singer said. “We knew that coming in, right from the get-go of the season … it makes it easier to wear down teams.”

In total, Peckskamp had two goals and one assist during the weekend. Other top offensive players on the weekend were Wilcox who had a goal in each game; junior Tyler Romasco with a goal and an assist and Singer who had two assists.

Next weekend the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) playoffs start and Eau Claire will play at UW-Steven’s Point in the first round. The Blugolds won the first two meetings against Point, but lost the last one by a score of 1-6. The home team won each of the games.

“We have to come out and just play Blugold hockey — that’s just hard every shift,” Singer said.  “… do the little things right and we’ll be able to come out of there hopefully with a big series win.”

Loen expects both games to be good ones.

“It’s a hostile atmosphere,” he said. “They’re going to get great crowds … hopefully the guys will be mentally prepared and not get too caught up in what’s going on in the stands.”

The winner of the NCHA Tournament will get an automatic bid to the national tournament. Loen said that there are automatic bids to the tournament, but it is unlikely that the Blugolds would get in without being conference champions.