UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey split doubleheader with UW-Stout

War on I-94 ends with wins and losses on both sides


Photo by File Photo

Story by Austin Mai, Op/Ed Editor

On the second night of a doubleheader, senior forward Ross Andersen finished the game with a pair of goals to his credit. By the end of the weekend, the UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team scored eight goals against conference rival UW-Stout.

Saturday’s finale, however, had a different ending than the night before.

Andersen scored his second goal of Saturday night’s game with less than 30 seconds left in the final period to bring the team within one point of tying. The Blugolds couldn’t find the back of the Blue Devils’ net with the final, precious seconds ticking off the clock and were defeated 4-3.

Eau Claire (12-5-2 overall, 4-2 WIAC) went down early after Stout scored a goal in the first five minutes of play. Neither team scored during the remainder of the period, despite the Blugolds’ nine shot attempts.

After another Blue Devils’ goal increased the lead to 2-0, Andersen recorded his first goal of the night short-handed after freshman forward Jake Hopfner was penalized for tripping.

Junior defenseman Joe Schmitz and junior goalie Tyler Green assisted Andersen.

Hopfner redeemed himself with a goal in the final seconds of the second period. Schmitz assisted on the play to tie the game 2-2.

The Blue Devils struck back with two goals in less than two minutes to flip the game on the Blugolds.

Eau Claire continued to lay on the shot attempts throughout the third period, but Stout goalie Spencer Viele was a stonewall against the Blugolds’ offense, saving more than 94 percent of shots against him in the win.

Eau Claire head coach Matt Loen said when a goalie on a hot streak is in play, all of the little things start to matter even more.

“He handled our shots well,” Loen said. “Puck handling and luck comes into play in close games like these.”

The night before, the Blugolds scored five times including two goals from junior forward Ethan Nauman and one power-play goal. During Saturday’s game, however, the team scored no points in power play opportunities.

Loen said the team has taken advantage of power play opportunities lately, until Saturday.

“We just couldn’t get it going,” Loen said. “(Power play scoring) has been getting us a goal or two for the last few games. It hurt us in this game.”

Regarding practicing power play opportunities, Loen said recovery is key. He wants the players to play to their natural style, but be aware when they need to try to take the puck away or collect the puck.

Loen said the team isn’t giving up after the loss. With the rest of the season in mind, he believes it’s best for the team to learn from games like Saturday’s now before the team competes in the WIAC tournament.

No. 13 Eau Claire faces WIAC competitors throughout this month to end the regular season. Eau Claire’s next games are set for 7:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday as they travel to UW-Superior.