Back on the ice

Blugold men’s hockey prepares to play two away games to start season

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The team can only move forward, but no one should expect them to forget the tribulations of being snubbed.

“I thought we deserved a bid the last two years,” Head coach Matt Loen said. “But I hope our guys have a chip on their shoulder and want to get back there. It’s a great experience and we have guys that can do it.”

Loen said he hopes his team plays with an edge and the desire to compete and win every game.

After losing senior contributors Ross Andersen (All-WIAC first team, led WIAC in short-handed goals, tied No. 1 for WIAC goals, tied No.1 for WIAC game-winning goals, tied No. 2 for WIAC points), Jack Callahan (All-WIAC first team, tied No. 2 for WIAC defenseman points, tied No. 2 for WIAC assists) and Charles Thauwald, Loen’s focus is less on who will replace and more on making sure the flock of freshmen from last season are developing well.

“It’s a tough job, you don’t know who’s going to replace (Andersen) because he … scored a lot of points for us,” Loen said. “Hopefully we’ll have younger guys show up, we had 11 freshmen last year so they’re sophomores now and we’ll look for more production from them.”

The reigning WIAC coach of the year and four-time winner of the award has two away games to prepare his team for this week, and Loen said his staff will continue to handle business the way they always have.

The Blugolds don’t focus on their opponents as much as they focus on playing their own best game.

“That’s pretty much our motto, we’re worried about ourselves,” Loen said. “We have some things to fine tune but we’ll be ready.”

Returning players include senior forward Ethan Nauman, who was No. 1 in the conference for shot percentage and points, tied No. 1 for goals and power-play goals and tied No. 5 for game-winning goals last season.

Junior forwards Patrick Moore and Brandon Wahlin return after successful seasons as well.

Eau Claire travels for two games to open their season. The first game is at 7 p.m. Friday at Lawrence University and the second game is at 7 p.m. Saturday at Aurora University (Ill.).