Mens hockey team hang on to winning streak with power play offense

Story by Haley Zblewski, Currents Editor

 

Winning four straight games, the Blugold men’s hockey team has held onto an undefeated start to the season for the first time since 2008 after facing two out of conference teams on the road.

Head coach Matt Loen said Friday started out slow as it was the Blugolds’ first weekend on the road, which can take some getting used to for a team.

“Compare it to a sleepover,” he said. “You go to someone else’s house to sleep and you’ve got to sleep in what they have furnished for you, where we know what we have furnished at home.”

Their first stop on the road, the ’Golds faced Hamline (Minn.) on Friday and defeated them 5-4.  They ended the weekend four for eight on power plays, an improvement on the past weekend when they were able to bury one out of eight.

Loen said the power plays were specifically a huge part of the team’s offense on Friday against Hamline, and the men took away two power play goals within three minutes of each other in the second period.

Going into the third period, the the score was 4-3 with the ’Golds in the lead, and junior forward Jon Waggoner scored the Blugolds’ last goal 25 seconds into the period.

The Blugolds were able to keep the puck away from the net until just after 12:00 on the clock, when Hamline’s Nick Widing scored the last goal of the night.

While power plays went well, the team struggled with burying breakaways, Loen said.

“Obviously we won both games but I think the score on Saturday could have been out of control,” he said. “We missed several breakaways we had several really good opportunities to score but we didn’t cash in. But fortunately we got the win.”

He said the team had four or five breakaway opportunities over the weekend and was surprised the team didn’t score on at least one of those.

Junior forward Jared Williams said he was expecting close games throughout the weekend.

“You don’t want to go into a game thinking you’re going to blow a team out or get killed, so you should always expect a good close game,” Williams said.

But still, Williams said he thought Friday didn’t exactly go as expected, though he scored the third goal of the night.

“Friday night was a bit sloppy,” he said. “We kind of went back and forth with each other. They scored, we scored. They went up and then we went up, but they were good games.“

Williams said he was happy that they were able to stick it out in two games on the road and grab two wins.

The men grabbed a 3-2 victory against Bethel University (Minn.) on Saturday.

The game remained close through the first after Bethel scored the first goal of the night. The Blugolds quickly followed it up with a goal of their own, and the teams repeated that back and forth once more before the whistle blew.

Breaking the tie in the second period and winning the game, senior Jordan Singer scored with 30 seconds left on the clock.  Both teams turned up scoreless in the third and Loen said senior goalie Alex Bjerk made many saves in the period which solidified the Blugolds’ victory.

Throughout the game, he stopped 22 of Bethel’s 24 shots.  The men won’t be back in conference action for two weeks and will be playing games in Minnesota until then. This weekend they face St. Scholastica (Minn.).

Williams said playing teams like Bethel and Hamline, though they are not members of the WIAC conference, isn’t too much different from playing other WIAC teams.

“I think we play in one of the hardest conferences in Division III hockey and when we go out of the conference (to play Minnesota teams) I feel like we expect to win because we’re coming from a little more difficult conference,” he said. “But, they’re still hitting you, they’re still skilled and they’re fast.”