DE PERE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) — It's still early in the men's hockey season, but any time the Nos. 1 and 2-ranked teams in the nation faceoff, it's going to have large implications moving forward. Add to that, the fact that the UW-Eau Claire men's hockey ended St. Norbert's season last year on their home ice en route to the NCAA National Championship, and it had all the makings of an important early season matchup.
The Green Knights (7-0-0) scored the first two goals of the game, and every time the Blugolds (4-1-0) scored after that, St. Norbert had an answer. UW-Eau Claire ultimately fell 5-2 and dropped their first game of the season.
After one period of play, it seemed like it would be a low-scoring game. Neither team was able to get on the board, but the Blugolds were outshot 11-3. The course of the game changed drastically in the second period.
The Green Knights kicked off the scoring barrage in the second period with a goal at 2:56. They added to the lead with another goal at 10:11 of the period. A few minutes later, at 13:25, the Blugolds cut the lead in half when Jon Waggoner (Sr.-Fairbanks, Alaska/Lathrop) scored his first goal of the night on assists from Charles Thauwald (So.-Rochester, Minn./Mayo) and Jack Callahan (Jr.-Red Bank, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy).
But less than a minute later, at 14:10, St. Norbert had an answer, taking back the two-goal lead. The real back-breaker came at 19:12 of the second period. With the Blugolds trying to get to the locker room down two, the Green Knights tallied their fourth goal of the period to take a three-goal lead into the intermission.
The Blugolds tried to get back in it at 11:48 of the third period, when Waggoner tallied his second goal of the game, this time on assists from Brian Nehring (Sr.-Hopedale, Mass./Milford) and Callahan. But St. Norbert once again had an answer, this time on the power-play at 13:20 to all but put the game out of reach for UW-Eau Claire.
Tyler Green (So.-Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) made 27 saves on 32 shots but suffered the first loss of his collegiate career. The Blugolds were outshot nearly 2-to-1 with the Green Knights holding the 32-17 advantage. Neither team was all that advantageous on the power-play, but it was St. Norbert that held the edge there as well, finishing 1-for-5, while the Blugolds were 0-for-6.
The loss also ended the school record of consecutive wins for the Blugolds at eight that dated back to last season.
UW-Eau Claire will be back in action Saturday when they travel to Concordia for a 7 p.m. game. The Blugolds and Green Knights will square off again in just five days when they meet in Eau Claire the day before Thanksgiving. The game is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. at Hobbs Ice Center.