By Justin Dade – Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, WI (Blugolds.com) - After sweeping the season series with the UW-Stevens Point Pointers, the Blugolds will welcome a very familiar foe back into Hobbs Ice Arena on Friday and Saturday night for the semifinals of the WIAC Men's Hockey Conference Tournament.
With both teams ranked in the top 10 nationally according to USCHO.com and with national tournament hopes on the line, this playoff series should be reflective of their previous two meetings during the regular season – fast and physical.
The two teams met their first time back in January in a thriller that ended in a 5-4 overtime victory for the Blugolds at Hobbs Ice Arena. After dropping two games in a row before this one, the Blugolds earned a much-needed victory that helped propel UW-Eau Claire's undefeated end of the season push.
The second meeting between these teams was quite different than the first in terms of offensive production as the Blugolds earned a 2-1 victory in regulation. The Blugolds never trailed in the contest due in large part to the outstanding goaltender play from Jay Deo (Jr. – Langley, British Columbia) who saved 46 of the 47 Pointer shots on goal.
One player to keep an eye on for the Blugolds will be forward Patrick Moore (Jr. – Grand Rapids, MN) who tallied four goals in the two games against the Pointers this season highlighted by the game-winning goal in the first matchup that earned him the hat trick for the 5-4 overtime win.
UW-Stevens Point will look to their dynamic duo of Joe Kalisz and Lawrence Cornellier who have totaled 69 total combined points on the season to fuel the offense for the Pointers.
As for the goaltender matchup, the Blugolds will likely roll with Tyler Green (Sr. – Noblesville, IN) for at least Friday night as he has started eight of the last 10 games for the Blugolds in net while posting a 1.88 goals allowed average in that span. Barring anything out of the ordinary, Max Milosek will be in net for the Pointers for both nights as he has played in all but seven of their games all season. Milosek finished the regular season with a 14-4-1 record and a save percentage of .908.
Special teams will always be key in playoff games with two very good teams, but especially for this matchup. UW-Eau Claire was the more efficient team with the man advantage in this matchup during the regular season converting on three of their four opportunities while the Pointers capitalized two times in their nine chances. Those numbers had a lot to do with the how the games ended up, and the team that can be more productive on special teams will have a significant advantage this weekend.
Puck drop will be at 7 p.m. both nights in what will be an electric atmosphere at Hobbs Ice Arena.