Men’s hockey falls in quarter finals

Story by Carolyn Tiry

The season is over for the UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team, as they fell to UW-Stevens Point in the first round of the playoffs this weekend.

While the Blugolds began the tournament with a decisive 4-2 win Friday night over the Pointers, Stevens Point came back to win both the second game and the following mini-game 1-0.

In Friday night’s face off, sophomore goalie Brandon Stephenson and the Blugold defense were able to keep the Stevens Point offense from picking up much speed. Stephenson managed to stop 13 of 15 of the Pointers’ shots.

Head coach Matt Loen said Stephenson was one of the standout players of the weekend.

“He has been consistent the whole season,” he said, “and he stopped a lot of important shots for us (this weekend).”

Credit also goes to Eau Claire’s offense, which scored four goals on 25 shots. Each goal came courtesy of a different player.

Sophomores Travis Peckskamp and Bryce Wilcox scored the first two goals, in the first and second periods, respectively.

Stevens Point managed to even the score by the end of the second, but junior Andrew Wilcox and sophomore Andrew McCabe each scored once in the last period to bring the Blugolds up to four and finish the game.

Eau Claire outshot Stevens Point 25-15. The majority of the shots came in the last two periods.

Saturday’s match-up, however, was a different story. The only goal of the game went to the Pointers on a power play in the third period, and the Blugolds were outshot 21-19.

Junior forward Tyler Romasco said the difference in the game was that Stevens Point was able to capitalize on power plays and Eau Claire was not.

“We had to go 80 minutes without a goal,” he said, “and you just can’t win hockey games without scoring.”

Loen said that the two teams were very similar in play and mentality, so it wasn’t surprising the second game was close even after the first was not. It also made it difficult to get an offense going.

“No one wanted to make a mistake,” Loen said, “and for the first two periods, (neither team) did. Then we gave up that goal during a power play.”

Because Eau Claire and Stevens Point split the two games, the match went into a 20-minute mini-game to decide the winner of the playoff. The Pointers scored again on a power play, taking advantage of a rebound off Stephenson and a scuffle in front of the Blugolds’ net.

Though he was disappointed with the loss, Loen said he was proud of his team and how they played throughout the season.

“Fifteen wins with a young team is a great accomplishment,” he said.

Romasco agreed and said he is looking forward to next season.

“We learned a lot about the team we have,” he said. “It was a really good year, and we have a lot to build on for next year.”