Blugolds look to take the WIAC championship Saturday

With a sweep of UW-River Falls last weekend, UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team is preparing to take on UW-Stevens Point on the road

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Eau Claire has yet to defeat Stevens Point this season, and they will face a tough challenge Saturday in their rematch on the road.


Eau Claire has yet to defeat Stevens Point this season, and they will face a tough challenge Saturday in their rematch on the road.

An underwhelming season will have the chance to be redeemed Saturday.

The UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team is accustomed to success, and a season in which they did not rank first in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) after the regular season is uncharacteristic of their previous history.

Due to the small size of schools in the WIAC, the winner of the conference does not receive an automatic bid into the prestigious NCAA Division III tournament. However, winning the league’s tournament is a good start.

After a season with many challenges, the Blugold men were able to sweep the UW-River Falls Falcons in a two-game miniseries at Hobbs Ice Arena last week. Despite a small crowd in the Eau Claire area, Eau Claire head coach Matthew Loen said the team’s success can be attributed to preparation and execution on the ice.

“We just stuck to our game plan both games,” Loen said. “We talked about getting the puck deep, and our forwards did a great job of that. That was the recipe for our success.”

Now that the Falcons are out of the way, Eau Claire’s sights shift to UW-Stevens Point. The two will face off in the WIAC tournament championship game at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Stevens Point. In addition to being a powerhouse in the WIAC, Stevens Point has had Eau Claire’s number all season long.

In the past two meetings between these two D3 hockey franchises, Stevens Point has outscored Eau Claire 7-3 en route to a two-game sweep of the Blugolds.

Blugold junior forward Mac Jansen said his team plans to review these two games to prepare for a tough battle on Saturday.

“We are definitely going to remember the last few times we’ve played them,” Jansen said. “We feel that we have not shown them our best game yet, so we have a chip on our shoulder to go into their home rink and get a win.”

This game is a win-or-go-home situation for the Blugolds, as they will have little to no hope for a tournament bid if they don’t at least come out with a WIAC tournament championship.

Jansen said the team is excited by the idea of achieving one of its preseason goals.

“It would be fantastic,” Jansen said. “We’d be accomplishing one of our goals to win our league, and it would give us hopes to squeak into the national tournament.”

The team’s season started with two wins, followed by two ties and a loss. The season reached its peak with a seven-game win streak shortly thereafter. A streak of winning slightly more than 50 percent of their games ended the men’s regular season. This is uncharacteristic of most Eau Claire seasons, but it will have the chance to turn around against Stevens Point.

The game can be seen live on Saturday and heard live on Blugold Radio 99.9FM-WDRK.

The stage and stakes are set for the Blugolds: win or go home.