Men’s hockey struggles on the road

Eau Claire drops pair of games to UW-Stevens Point over the weekend

Story by Austin Mai, Staff Writer

The UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team lost their series to UW- Stevens Point this weekend.

Going into Friday’s game, the Blugolds were on a four-game win streak and were looking to keep things rolling. But the night didn’t go as planned.

The matchup Friday night in Stevens Point was a dynamic one. The fourth-ranked home team was set to play the third-ranked Blugolds.

The Pointers racked up points quickly in the first period, scoring three goals in the first four minutes of play.

They scored again at 8:53 in the first and at 8:24 in the second period to go up 5-0.

“We weren’t ready,” Eau Claire head coach Matt Loen said. “Our players were playing flat and we gave up some points.”

The Blugolds struggled with shooting all night, including a missed power play opportunity in the second period.

Eau Claire went scoreless until sophomore defenseman Charles Thauwald scored on a power play. Senior forwards Daniel Olszewski and Mark Pustin were credited with the assists.

“Friday night we knew what the stakes were and how important the games were and we just didn’t come out ready to play,” senior forward Jon Waggoner said. “It definitely showed in the first period. Five goals is a hard deficit to come back from.”

That was all the scoring the Blugolds would do for the night as the Pointers scored once more to put the game away 6-1.

“We dug ourselves a big hole and it was tough to come back,” Waggoner said.

Friday night’s outcome left Eau Claire and Stevens Point tied for second place in the WIAC, a point behind first-ranked UW-River Falls.

Eau Claire then lost against 2-1 after an overtime second game Saturday, giving the tiebreaker to Stevens Point.

The Pointers struck first again as they scored at 9:15 in the first period to lead Eau Claire 1-0 for 25 minutes.

After the score, both teams were shooting but neither could find the net until Olszewski scored on a power play for the Blugolds to tie the game 1-1. Senior defenseman David Donnellan and Pustin got the assists.

Eau Claire remained in the Pointers’ zone for the remainder of the period, outshooting Stevens Point 16-6.

“Saturday night we came with a whole new attitude and we stuck to our systems and played Blugold hockey,” Waggoner said. “It will show in the rest of our play this season.”

The third period began and ended without either team scoring as the Pointers outshot the Blugolds 7-4.

The matchup went to overtime tied at 1-1 and ended after Stevens Point junior forward Garrett Ladd shot the game winner unassisted.

“Obviously the outcome wasn’t what we wanted,” Waggoner said. “I thought we definitely outplayed them and played very well as a group.”

Waggoner dislocated his shoulder Saturday night but hopes to be back on the ice in the playoffs.

Eau Claire returned to third place in the WIAC behind Stevens Point and River Falls with an overall record of 16-6-1 and conference record of 5-4-1.

Loen said the WIAC playoffs still can shift and change, as River Falls plays at Stevens Point Thursday night, UW-Superior will take on UW- Stout Friday night and Stevens Point finishes at Superior Saturday night.

Eau Claire plays its last regular season home game this Thursday against UW-Stout. Puck drops at 7 p.m. at Hobbs Ice Center. Then their final regular season game is against River Falls at 7 p.m. on Saturday.