Men’s hockey advances past conference semifinals

    Blugolds emerge victorious against UW-Superior Yellowjackets in WIAC semifinals

    More stories from Hannah Bryson

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    This historic sports drought has also affected our own Blugolds men’s hockey team, who were poised to compete in the NCAA tournament.

    The UW-Eau Claire men’s hockey team took on UW- Superior at Hobbs Ice Arena this past weekend in the WIAC semifinals. Both teams came out of the weekend with a win and a loss, but only the Blugolds came out with an advance to play for the conference title after a victory in overtime during Saturday night’s game. This leaves the Blugolds with a 19-6-2 record going into the conference game this upcoming weekend at Stevens Point.

    The Yellowjackets came out on top after the first game of the weekend on Friday night. The teams were evenly matched throughout the first period with neither team scoring. The Yellowjackets pulled ahead in the second period with a score on a power play at the 17:21 mark. They continued to pull ahead in the third period, and scored at the 18:43 mark. The Blugolds did, however, outshoot their opponents, and had 51 shots on goal. Zach Dyment, a second-year goalie for the Blugolds, stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced in Friday night’s loss.

    Despite the Yellowjackets taking an early lead with one goal, the tides turned for the Blugolds in Saturday night’s game. Jon Richards, a second-year forward, secured a shot and evened the score at the 7:08 mark. Superior scored again in the second period. With only 2:40 left on the clock, Simon Sagissor, a first-year forward, tied up the game with a shot off an assist from Steen Cooper, a third-year forward, on a power play.

    The regulation game ended in a tie and went into a 5 minute sudden-death overtime where the first team to score wins. The Blugolds won in overtime, as Richards scored his second goal of the game at 2:23, forcing a minigame. A minigame is used to break a tie and determine the advancing team in a two-game series.  The 20-minute period is to be treated as another game with the exception that it is not counted statistically or in a team’s overall won-loss record.  

    In the minigame, Richards scored yet again at 13:15, bringing the Blugolds into the lead. The game finished with Tyler Tomberlin, a third-year forward, scoring on an empty net with 12 seconds remaining, securing a Blugold victory.

    Richards spoke about how he felt going into Saturday’s game after Friday night’s loss.

    “We just had to know we were right up there with them,” Richards said.

    Coach Matt Loen commented on what the Blugolds need to be ready for the championship game.

    “We need to keep our momentum going from this game,” Loen said.

    Richards and Dyment both responded to inquiries about next week’s game saying they are “not intimidated” by the face-off with the Pointers.

    “It is exciting to play Stevens Point because it is a challenge,” said Richards.

    The  Blugolds will take on the Pointers at UW-Stevens Point at 7 p.m. on March 2, in a rematch of last year’s championship game. A year ago, Eau Claire took home a 3-2 win against the Pointers.

    Bryson can be reached at [email protected].