STEVENS POINT, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The ninth-ranked UW-Eau Claire men's hockey team got down early and was unable to come back, falling 4-2 to third-ranked UW-Stevens Point in the first game in the semifinals of the WIAC Championship at K.B. Willett Arena tonight.
Stevens Point struck early, scoring its first goal at 2:16 in the opening period. Less than five minutes later the Pointers scored again to get up 2-0. Both goals came on power-plays.
Eau Claire was able to answer at 16:34 as Mark Pustin (Sr.-Northridge, Calif./Granada Hills) found the back of the goal on a power-play with assists from Chris Heineman (Jr.-New Boston, Minn./Traverse City Central) and Jason Eddy (Fr.-Woodbury, Minn.).
Then with nine seconds left in the first period, Ross Andersen (Jr.-River Falls, Wis.) scored for Eau Claire with assists from Jeff Pauluk (So.-Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) and Alex Olson (Sr.-Devils Lake, N.D.) to tie the game up. Eau Claire finished the opening period outshooting the Pointers 13-12.
In the second period, a goal by Eliot Grauer at 14:01 gave Stevens Point the lead again, and at 11:12 in the third period, Grauer lit the lamp once again for the Pointers to give them a two-goal lead. Stevens Point outshot the Blugolds in both the second and third periods and was able to hang on for the win.
Stevens Point narrowly outshot the Blugolds 36-32, and Tyler Green (So.-Noblesville, Ind.) stopped 32 shots as he played the entire game in the net for Eau Claire.
The Blugolds finished the game 1-for-5 on power-plays while Stevens Point went 3-for-5.
Eau Claire drops to 17-8-1 overall while the Pointers improve to 20-4-2. The Blugolds remain winless against Stevens Point this season as the Pointers now lead 4-0.
The Blugolds and Pointers will play again tomorrow at 7 p.m. in game two of the WIAC Semifinals. The Blugolds will need a win to force a mini-game to extend postseason play. A tie or a Pointer win will allow Stevens Point to advance to the WIAC Championship final.