MENOMONIE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) — To say the UW-Eau Claire men's hockey team won a dramatic game Friday night over host and rival UW-Stout would probably be an understatement.
With the drama, controversy followed close behind. But ultimately, it was a last second goal that sent the Blugolds (17-3-2, 12-2-1) to a 4-3 win over the Blue Devils (10-11-2, 5-11-0 NCHA).
It was a crazy game, with a bizarre ending. A game that saw the Blugolds jump out to a 3-0 lead and a game that saw the Blue Devils respond with three straight to tie it 3-3. But Devin Mantha (Sr.-Sturgeon Falls, Ontario/Ann Arbor Pioneer) undoubtedly put the exclamation point on the game.
With just one second remaining in regulation, Mantha scored the game-winner. Without the benefit of video replay, the officials determined that the puck crossed the line before time expired and the Blugolds swept the season series with the Blue Devils.
The goal capped an otherwise uneventful final period when compared to the first two. UW-Eau Claire jumped all over the home team early. Jordan Singer (Sr.-Lino Lakes, Minn./Centennial) started the scoring at 4:13 of the first period.
Ross Andersen (So.-River Falls, Wis./River Falls) scored just 1:30 later to give the Blugolds the 2-0 lead. At 9:34, Kurt Weston (Sr.-Roseau, Minn./Roseau) scored and it appeared the route was on in Menomonie.
But the Blue Devils were not about to go easily in their home barn. With just over three minutes to play in the first, the Blue Devils got on the board with a power-play goal to go into the first intermission down 3-1.
And it was the Blue Devils who dominated the second period. At 5:58 they scored to make it a 3-2 game and at 13:18, they tallied another to tie it up at 3-all. And that was how it would stay until the final second of the game.
It was a clean game as both teams were called for only three penalties each. The Blugolds finished 0-for-2 on the man advantage, while the Blue Devils were 1-for-2.
Brandon Stephenson (Sr.-Saline, Mich./Saline) picked up the win in net, his 15th of the season, making 24 saves on 27 shots. Stephenson is now one victory away from breaking the UW-Eau Claire single season win mark for a goaltender. He broke the school's career record for wins tonight as he now has 41.
St. Norbert lost Friday night to St. Scholastica, Minn., meaning the Blugolds now need to win only one of the remaining three regular season games to clinch at least a share of the NCHA title.
The win over the Blue Devils also clinched the WIAC title for UW-Eau Claire, the first in school history.
The Blugolds return home Saturday night to take on UW-River Falls at 7 p.m. They wrap up the regular season next weekend, first at home Friday night to take on St. Scholastica and then they travel to UW-Superior on Saturday as they try to earn their first NCHA regular season title.