Young Blugold goalies tested in opening WIAC weekend

Taking on UW-Stevens Point in their WIAC opener game on Friday night, the UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team couldn’t keep up with the still unbeaten Pointers, losing the game 4-1.

Freshman forward Chris Fischer said though the team was aware the Pointers were undefeated so far in their season, the Blugolds don’t read too much into any team’s record.

They understand that in hockey, no game is easy, he said.

“We just knew that we had to give one of our best efforts to come up with a win, and unfortunately that didn’t happen, they’re a very good team,” Fischer said. “And it’s not that they’re a team we can’t beat. It’s just that they’re a team we didn’t beat.”

Stevens Point controlled the first period, but the Blugolds rebounded in the second period when junior forward Joe Krause scored with 39 seconds left on the clock.

The goal wouldn’t be enough to get the Blugolds back on their feet, however, and the Pointers racked up two more goals in the third period.

Captain Robbie Anderegg said the team has been switching between freshman goalie Jay Deo and sophomore goalie Tyler Green to defend the net, and they’ve been playing well.

“Both are very capable, very confident goaltenders,” Anderegg said. “But right now, we’re not giving them the help they deserve.”

He said making sure the goalies have confidence in their forwards and defense is important and something the team needs to work on. Anderegg, a senior defenseman, said that wasn’t happening against Point.

“(The goalies) need to be able to trust the team is making the right plays,” he said.

Coming off of two losing games against St. Norbert College, head coach Matt Loen said the team has been working on making sure they’re ready to face strong teams like St. Norbert and Stevens Point.

“You’ve just got to do the little things,” Loen said. “But you can’t teach someone to work hard.”

Anderegg said the team is still working on tweaking the line combos to figure out who works best together.

On Saturday, the Blugolds traveled to face UW-Superior. The game went into overtime but ended in a 2-2 tie.

The Blugolds started out strong, racking up two goals within the first seven minutes of the game, courtesy of  Fischer and sophomore forward Ethan Nauman.

“Obviously, when you score two goals within the first four or five minutes, as a team you’re on an emotional high,” Anderegg said. “But you still have so much game left to play. It puts people off, makes you think it’s easier than it is”

Anderegg said it was apparent the team was in that mindset when the Yellowjackets knocked in two goals within 30 seconds of each other in the last five minutes of the first period.

Neither team scored after the first period, and things went downhill going into the second period, Fischer said.

“Going into the second period, they had all the momentum and we didn’t,” Fischer said. “I don’t think it was because of that, but our second period wasn’t the greatest. We didn’t play very well, bounces weren’t going our way and we were kind of fighting the puck. Nothing like we were doing in the first period.”

The team gained some of its momentum back in the third period, Fischer said, but it wasn’t enough to break the tie.

“We definitely could have won the game, but I think we needed to put a more complete effort together in order to beat a good team like Superior,” Fischer said.

However, the highlight for Fischer came in the form of his first collegiate goal, he said.

“When the puck first came out to me, it would have taken more skill not to score than to score,” he said. “That’s kind of how wide open the net was. Right when I got the puck, I knew I was going to score. And when I did, it was a really cool moment as a freshman.”

On Dec. 13, the Blugolds travel to Milwaukee to take on the Milwaukee School of Engineering. MSOE has yet to win a game on their season.