The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Men’s hockey hopes to improve

    Anna Nelson

    Men’s hockey coach Marlin Muylaert knows it’s pretty tough to win a lot of games without consistently putting the puck in the net.

    That’s why Muylaert believes offensive improvement will be paramount to the Blugolds’ success during its 2001-02 campaign, which begins Friday at UW-River Falls.

    “The number one priority is scoring more goals,” said Muylaert, who is beginning his third season with the Blugolds. “We need to give our goaltenders and defense some offensive support.”

    After going 6-4 in its first 10 games last season, the ‘Golds struggled the rest of the way and finished the season 9-18-0 overall and 3-11-0 in the National Collegiate Hockey Association, ahead of only Lake Forest College (Ill.).

    Story continues below advertisement

    The Blugolds believe they have the talent, experience and attitude to bounce back.

    “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people,” junior forward Joe Byrd said. “Everyone is more focused on working harder and working together as a unit.”

    Senior left wing Jamie Minor agreed.

    “This year we need to play more of a team game,” Minor said. “I think it’s just a matter of putting it all together.”

    Twenty-one of the 25 players on last season’s roster are back for the Blugolds, including leading scorer Ian Sgambelluri, who finished with nine goals and 20 assists and was 17th in the conference with 1.12 points per game. Minor finished with 1.08 points per game.

    Sgambelluri, Minor, Byrd, sophomore forwards Mike Lucenti and Kuzma Kurakin, junior forward Matt Gehr and freshmen forwards Rob Quimette and Greg Harris are all expected to provide scoring punch.

    Seniors Tim Murphy and Jeff Pradal, along with junior Matt Plummer will lead the defense, while junior Scott Sutton and senior Jon Walker will rotate at goalie.

    “I like what we have at all positions,” Muylaert said. “We have two great goalies, a formidable blue line and finally a potent offense.

    We only have one goal, and that is to work our way up into the top echelon of the NCHA.”

    The Blugolds will find out immediately if they’re ready to do that.

    They play River Falls in the season opener Friday.

    River Falls (24-10-2 last season) finished second in the conference and advanced to the NCAA Div. III Frozen Four along with NCHA champion UW-Superior.

    The Blugolds topped the Falcons at home Dec. 16 in the first meeting last season.

    River Falls responded by crushing the Blugolds 7-1 in River Falls and winning 3-2 in the regular season finale at Hobbs Ice Arena.

    “River Falls should be a good test right off the bat,” Byrd said.

    “They’ll be hungry after the success they had last year,” Muylaert said of the Falcons. Saturday, the Blugolds will head to Menomonie to play UW-Stout.

    Stout finished fourth in the NCHA last season and won both of its meetings with Eau Claire.

    Leave a Comment
    More to Discover

    Comments (0)

    The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
    All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Activate Search
    Men’s hockey hopes to improve