Blugold men’s hockey ends their season on a rough note

    With a loss to UW-Stevens Point, Eau Claire’s tournament hopes may be slipping away

    More stories from Parker Reed


    Photo by Elizabeth Gosling

    Saturday’s game also served as senior night, honoring members of the team who will be graduating in a few months.

    The UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team fell flat against UW-Stevens Point Saturday at Hobbs Ice Arena, losing 4-1 in a pivotal final regular season matchup. The Blugolds’ regular season record ends a 16-6-3, and their Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) record comes to 5-3.

    Saturday’s contest meant a lot to the Eau Claire roster as the final matchup between two WIAC conference powerhouses. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is for one looming reason.

    The WIAC is not large enough of a conference for the winner of the conference to warrant an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III tournament. Therefore, a team who does not top a small conference has little to no chance of earning a bid into the prestigious tournament.

    Eau Claire junior forward, Mac Jansen, said the team is quite aware of this, and the team is having a hard time after their latest loss.

    “Obviously, we are down,” Jansen said. “Losing that game hurts, because we wanted that one really bad. There’s nothing we can do now, but shake it off. Now we’ve got two weeks to work on whatever we need to work on and move on to River Falls.”

    Jansen said a packed and energetic Hobbs arena is doing little to lift their spirits after ending their regular season on a sour note.

    “We wish we could have gave them a little more to cheer about,” Jansen said. “But it was a cool experience to see all the fans come out and pack the barn for us.”

    The beginning of the matchup between these two rival squads saw Eau Claire falling into an early hole. At the 17:33 point in the first period, pointer Logan Fredericks slapped a shot assisted by Willem Nong-Lambert past Eau Claire goaltender Jay Deo.

    The second period saw Eau Claire digging an even deeper hole, being outscored 2-1 in a momentum-hindering period. The lone goal by the Blugolds in the game came at the 1:33 point when Eau Claire senior forward, Patrick Moore, scored an unassisted power play goal to save Eau Claire from a shutout.

    The third and final period only saw one moment of scoring, as Stevens Point player Logan Fredericks scored a goal at the 19:03 mark, which was assisted by Tanner Karty. This brought the final score to 4-1 in favor of Stevens Point.

    Eau Claire Head Coach, Matthew Loen, said the team’s shortcomings came from their inability to play cleanly.

    “We got off the first two periods,” Loen said. “The second period we spent a lot of time in the penalty box, and that kind of took the wind out of our sails. We picked it up in the third period, had 14 shots on net, but just couldn’t get any pucks past Milosek.”

    Now that the regular season is behind the team, they are setting their sights on their series against UW-River Falls on Fri. 24 and Sat. 25. The series serves as the WIAC Semifinals, and is the next step in the team’s ultimate search to garner another Division III national championship.

    Loen said the key to success for Eau Claire is not dependent on what River Falls brings to the table.

    “Our work ethic needs to be better,” Loen said. “I think, if we do that, we are a tough team to beat. It’s mental, and it is hard work. Hopefully we can spend the next 13 days preparing for the series and come out ahead.”

    The Blugolds will have the entire upcoming week off to prepare for their matchup against River Falls, as they look to recover quickly from a hard-fought regular season campaign.