January 24, 2014

Men's Hockey Explodes for Eight Goals in Convincing Victory over Falcons

EAU CLAIRE, Wis (Blugolds.com) – All good things must come to an end, at least that's what the cliché says. For the UW-Eau Claire men's hockey team, the cliché was partially true, as the record-setting shutout streak finally came to an end. But more importantly for the Blugolds, the winning streak stayed alive and improved to seven games as they defeated UW-River Falls 8-3 in a convincing victory in front of a packed house at Hobbs Ice Center.

After setting a Div. III record for consecutive shutouts with five last Saturday against St. Thomas (Minn.), the Blugolds (12-3-1, 1-1-1) had one record they were still chasing. They were chasing the consecutive shutout minutes record of 337 minutes, 22 seconds, set by Kyle Jones of St. Norbert in 2006. They needed just over 17 minutes of shutout play, and they did that and much more. Tyler Green (So.-Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville), who played an integral part in the streak, kept the Falcons (10-5-2, 3-2-0) off the board until the 14:58 mark of the second period, setting the record at 354 minutes and 25 seconds.

Of course, there was a very important hockey game to be played with important implications as both teams hit the conference stretch of the schedule. The Blugolds came into the game looking for their first WIAC victory, while the Falcons led the WIAC with a 3-1-0 record. UW-Eau Claire was ranked-No. 7 in the USCHO.com poll, while UW-River Falls was ranked No. 13. The game did not disappoint, as it had a little bit of everything.

The first period was rather uneventful by this game's standard. Jon Waggoner (Sr.-Fairbanks, Alaska/Lathrop) scored the only goal of the period at 4:45 when he beat UW-River Falls goalie, Tanner Milliron high on the glove side to give the Blugolds a 1-0 lead. Jared Williams (Sr.-West Chicago/Bartlett) and David Donnellan (Sr.-Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial) assisted on the goal.

In the second period, the Blugolds extended the lead, first with an unassisted goal by Patrick Moore (Fr.-Grand Rapids, Minn./Grand Rapids) at 5:29 on a defensive turnover by the Falcons. At 6:45, Charles Thauwald (So.-Rochester, Minn./Mayo) picked up a loose puck from a scrum in front of the net and beat Milliron for the 3-0 lead.

From there, the Falcons took control of the period. They finally broke through at 14:58 to end the shutout streak and also cut the lead to 3-1. After just one penalty in the first period, there were 10 in the second period. The period set up the game for an even better final period.

Rather than sit back and protect the lead, the Blugolds came out in the third and put the game away. Niko Kapetanovic (Sr.-North Prairie, Wis./Kettle Moraine) deked a couple defenders and put a nifty move on the goalie for the prettiest goal of the night at 4:13 to make it a 4-1 game.

Fifty-three seconds later, Ross Andersen (Jr.-River Falls, Wis./River Falls) scored an unassisted goal to put the Blugolds up 5-1. But that wasn't enough for the Blugolds. Just 10 seconds later, Moore scored his second goal of the game on assists from Donnellan and Andersen for a 6-1 lead.

The Falcons cut into the lead at 9:55 with a shorthanded goal. But at 12:44,with the man-advantage, Donnellan sniped Milliron from the blue line to go ahead 7-2.

UW-River Falls scored again with a little more than a minute left in the game and it appeared the game would end 7-3. But 25 seconds later, Andersen scored his second goal of the game and the Blugolds picked up their first conference victory in convincing fashion.

The third period had nine penalties, including four roughing minors and an instigating minor at 9:24 after a scrum broke out off a faceoff at center ice.

Both teams finished with 38 shots and Green finished with 35 saves to pick up his seventh win of the season. He saw his shutout streak end at three games, but was impressive in goal once again as he has won his last four starts.

The two teams will faceoff again Saturday night at Hobbs, and if Friday's game was any indication, it should be another fantastic game. The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m.  

-JM-