EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) — Playing on the eve of Thanksgiving, the UW-Eau Claire men's hockey team can be thankful for one thing, if they play St. Norbert again this season, it will be in the NCAA tournament. The Green Knights continued their dominance over the Blugolds this season, this time on the road with a convincing 8-2 win at Hobbs Ice Center.
The Green Knights (9-0) handed the Blugolds (5-2) their first loss of the season just five days ago in De Pere and took over the No. 1-rank in the nation. UW-Eau Claire rebounded the next day with a convincing shutout win over Concordia. With St. Norbert traveling to Eau Claire, the Blugolds were looking to hold home ice advantage.
Like the previous game, the Green Knights struck first, this time in the first period. Erik Cooper split two Blugold defenders and managed to get off a shot that got past goaltender Tyler Green (So.-Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) to get St. Norbert out to a 1-0 lead. Much like the first game, the game broke open in the second period.
Coming out of the first intermission, the Green Knights struck early with a goal just 21 seconds into the period for the 2-0 lead. Later in the period, with St. Norbert on the power-play, the Blugolds were whistled for another penalty, giving the Green Knights a 5-on-3 advantage. They took advantage with a goal at 8:31 of the period to pull ahead 3-0.
Michael Hill, who finished with a hat trick in the game for the Green Knights, scored back-to-back goals at 10:18 and 13:37 to make it a 5-0 game. The Blugolds did cut into the lead before the end of the period when Jon Waggoner (Sr.-Fairbanks, Alaska/Lathrop) continued his hot streak with a power-play goal on assists from Jeff Pauluk (So.-Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) and Jack Callahan (Jr.-Red Bank, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy). It was his fifth goal in the past three games.
The Blugolds made a change in goal to start the third period, giving Cory Simons (Fr.-Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge) his first career appearance. It was not the start Simons was hoping for, as the Green Knights scored on their first shot of the period at 2:16. Chris Heineman (Jr.-New Boston, Mich./Traverse City Central) made it a 6-2 game with an unassisted goal at 4:23.
But St. Norbert responded once again with goals at 8:55 and 18:05 of the period to end the game. It was a difficult night for the Blugolds, who fell to the No. 4-ranking in the USCHO.com poll this week. The Green Knights outshot the Blugolds 32-29 and each team finished with a power-play goal. The Blugolds were 1-for-5 while the Green Knights finished 1-for-4 in the game.
Green made 18 saves on 23 shots in two periods of play, while Simons made six saves on nine shots in the final period.
The Blugolds are off now until Friday, Dec. 6 when they host UW-Stevens Point for their first WIAC game of the season. The Pointers are currently ranked No. 6 overall in the USCHO.com poll. The game is set for 7 p.m. at Hobbs Ice Center.