EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The 12th-ranked UW-Eau Claire men's hockey team held a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission but 3rd-ranked UW-Stevens Point scored the final four goals of the game as the Blugolds fell 5-2 here tonight at Hobbs Ice Center.
The Blugolds fall to 15-6-2 overall and 7-3-0 in conference play while the Pointer improve to 18-5-0 and 8-2-0 in league action. Stevens Point regained sole possession of first place and hold a two-point lead over Eau Claire and River Falls 16 points.
With one week remaining in the regular season Eau Claire holds a tie-breaker advantage over River Falls with a weekend sweep of the Falcons on January 23 and 24 at Hunt Arena. Stevens Point holds the same advantage over Eau Claire with two wins over the Blugolds. All three teams will face each other next week as Stevens Point travels to River Falls on Friday, February 20. The following night the Falcons travel to Hobbs Ice Center to face-off against the Blugolds. The WIAC men's hockey tournament will begin when the fourth and fifth seed square off on Tuesday, February 24 with the winner advancing to the WIAC semifinals on Friday, February 27.
Trailing 1-0 after a Pointer goal at 7:37 of the first period, the Blugolds responded by scoring the next two goals. Mac Jansen (Fr.-White Bear Lake, MN) scored his fifth goal of the season at 10:05 assisted by Colton Wolter (Fr.-Fairbanks, AK/Lathrop) and Jake Davidson (Fr.-Duluth, MN/Shattuck St. Mary's) tying the game at 1-1. Ross Andersen (Sr.-River Falls, WI) scored his 18th goal of the season as he wrapped the puck into the net from behind the net assisted by Jack Callahan (Sr.-Red Bank, NJ/Christian Brothers Academy) and Preston Hodge (So.-Normal, IL/Oregon) to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
The game changed in favor of Stevens Point in the second period as the Pointers outscored the Blugolds 3-0. The Pointers scored even strength goals at 9:16, 13:05 and 18:27 taking a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
Eau Claire outshot Stevens Point 13-8 in the third period but was unable to score a goal. The Pointers closed out the evening with a power play goal at 6:06.
Andersen has now scored a goal in five straight games dating back to January 31. His goal tied him for the team lead with 29 points and 18 goals.
Goalie Jay Deo (So.-Langley, BC) was solid in goal for the Blugolds saving 38 shots in 60 minutes of action. His season record now stands at 6-3-1.
The power play goal allowed in the third period marked the first time the Blugolds have allowed power play goals in back-to-back nights since losing at St. Norbert 3-2 on November 18 and to Adrian College (MI) 5-2 on November 21. Prior to this weekend the vaunted Eau Claire penalty kill unit had allowed just two goals in the previous 15 games.
Eau Claire was outshot by Stevens Point 43-34. The Blugolds received 10 penalty minutes on five infractions while the Pointers received eight penalty minutes on four infractions. The Pointers went one-for-four on power plays while the Blugolds went scoreless on three opportunities.
The Blugolds travel to Dunn County Arena on Thursday, February 19 where they will meet rival UW-Stout. Face-off is set for 8:00 p.m.