Eau Claire hockey wins on the road, prepares for conference season


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Freshman forward Todd Koritzinsky, pictured here at home against Lake Forest College (Ill.), earned an assist in the 3-1 victory. – Submitted

Story by Austin Mai, Staff Writer

A change of scenery can help relax people when it’s needed most. Senior forward Ross Andersen found this to be true during last week’s Thanksgiving break.

Andersen went home to River Falls to take part in the holiday festivities and returned to Eau Claire before traveling to Augsburg College (Minn.) last Friday.

The No. 14 UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team returned relaxed but intent on getting the win coming off of the short break.

“It’s basically playoffs from here out,” Andersen said. “With our two losses and ties, every win is important moving forward.”

Against Augsburg, Andersen found the back of the net at 15:54 to give Eau Claire the lead going into the second period. Sophomore forwards Patrick Moore and Adam Knochenmus assisted him on the play.

Junior forward Ethan Nauman said he thought the Blugolds would match up well.

“It was probably our most complete game of the year,” Nauman said. “We had a slow start in the first period, but we were playing with confidence throughout.”

The second period heated up when the Auggies found their way onto the scoreboard at 14:26. However, Nauman quickly regained the Blugold lead at 15:47 with assists from freshman and sophomore forwards Todd Koritzinsky and David Henry.

Nauman took a shot, it bounced off of the goalie’s chest and he fumbled it.

“I shot the puck, and it wasn’t a very good shot at all,” Nauman said. “I went hard to the net, and there was a scrum, and the puck happened to go into the net. I’m not really sure how it got in to be honest.”

Eau Claire led 2-1 until Andersen put the game away with his second goal of the game in the third period. Knochenmus and Moore again assisted Andersen on the goal.

Andersen and Nauman are now tied for the team lead in goals with six as well as the team lead in points with nine.

Junior goalie Tyler Green saved 25 of 26 shots as the Blugolds improved to 4-2-2 on the season, while the Auggies fall to 5-4-0.

Andersen said the team is starting to play some of its best hockey.

“We put in a lot of work before the start of the year,” Andersen said. “Because it’s such a young team, we needed time to mesh and gel.”

Nauman said the new players have found their roles and adapted quickly.

“Our freshmen are playing well together,” Nauman said. “They’re contributing as much as they can to the team and they’ve shown progress.”

Despite improved team play, Andersen believes his team is not yet playing at the level they must to compete with the top national talent.

“Our team needs a statement game to completely come together,” Andersen said. “We have a great opportunity to do that against Stevens Point this weekend.”

Looking ahead to this weekend, Eau Claire will face conference competition for the first time this season when they travel to play at 7 p.m. Friday night against No. 7 UW-Stevens Point. Both Stevens Point and No. 5 UW-River Falls have passed Eau Claire in rankings, but Andersen doesn’t think early season rankings are always accurate.

“Obviously, we think we’re the best team in the nation,” Andersen said. “The rankings don’t bother us, but they do tell the story of how good our conference opponents have played so far.”

Andersen has dealt with a lingering shoulder injury from against Bethel University (Minn.), but he expects his shoulder to be at 100 percent for this weekend’s conference matchups.

After Friday’s ranked showdown, Eau Claire will return home to play UW-Superior at 7 p.m. Saturday at Hobbs Ice Center.