By: Justin Dade – UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The No. 7 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire men's hockey team earned their biggest win of the season to date with a 5-4 victory in overtime over the No. 4 UW-Stevens Point Pointers on Saturday night.
In a phenomenal hockey game full of countless momentum swings, the Blugolds dug deep in a must-win game in terms of postseason hopes led by Patrick Moore (Jr. – Grand Rapids, MN) who contributed a hat trick including the game-winning goal in overtime.
The Pointers came out strong in the first period as the Blugolds tried to find their legs after playing a rare Thursday game the prior night. Goaltender Tyler Green (Sr. – Noblesville, IN) stood tall in the first period saving all 12 Pointer shots.
Just when it looked like the first period was about to end in a scoreless tie, the Blugolds struck first with just three seconds left on Moore's first goal assisted by Adam Knochenmus (Jr. – Roseau, MN).
After taking the momentum into the locker room after the positive end of the first frame, UW-Eau Claire came out skating much better in the crazy second period that included six total goals.
Under seven minutes later, the Pointers found life with their first goal of the game scored by Jono Davis that would spark a strong comeback effort.
Pointers' forward Kyle Sharkey found the back of the net just 1:23 later with a goal coming on the power play to even the score 2-2.
UW-Stevens Point added yet another goal three minutes and nine seconds later on a blast from the point from defenseman Trace Strahle to give the Pointers their first lead of the game.
The Blugolds overcame adversity, however, after conceding their two-goal lead as newcomer Bryan Sinz (Jr. – Anchorage, AK) found the back of the net with 3:27 left in the second period for his first goal as a Blugold in just his second game after transferring from Clarkson College. Sinz's goal was a deflection on a shot that came from the point with assists coming from Knochenmus and Mac Jansen (So. - White Bear Lake, MN).
With just 1:55 left in period the Blugolds found the back of the net again with a go-ahead goal scored on the power play again by Moore with assists coming from Knochenmus and captain Jeff Pauluk (Sr. – Bloomington, MN).
The Pointers came right back one more time on an early third period goal scored again on the power play by Sharkey to tie the game 4-4.
The rest of the third period came without a goal despite numerous scoring chances for both teams. The Blugolds were outshot in every period of regulation, but played well enough to send the game into overtime.
The overtime period progressed without much offense from either team, but with just 56 seconds left, UW-Eau Claire put the thrilling game to an end with a moment that will be remembered for a very long time.
Patrick Moore finished capped off a fantastic performance with the game-winning goal assisted once again by Knochenmus to earn a needed victory for the Blugolds to get back on track in conference play.
Knochenmus finished the night with four assists to add to his team-leading point total. The junior forward has been outstanding for the Blugolds this season contributing 28 points (16 goals, 12 assists) in 19 games.
Green was strong for the Blugolds in net on the night considering the amount of shots he saw in the win. He saved 38 of the 42 shots in the win that will improve his record to 8-4-1 on the season.
The Blugolds (12-5-2) will look to use this win as momentum to propel them forward in conference play. UW-Eau Claire will be back at home next week as they take on UW-Stout on Thursday for the season's second and final installment of the "War on I-94". The puck will drop at 7 p.m. at Hobbs Ice Arena.