By Justin Dade – Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The No. 8 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire men's hockey team skated to a 2-2 draw with the No. 4 UW-Stevens Point Pointers in a tightly-contested game one of the WIAC Conference Semifinals on Friday night at Hobbs Ice Arena.
A trip to the conference finals will now be on the line on Saturday night as the Blugolds and the Pointers were unable to decide who would take an advantage into tomorrow evening.
In a game with a lot of physical play, the Pointers were the aggressors early and earned an early goal scored by Jacob Barber just 4:12 into the game off of a Blugold turnover.
UW-Stevens Point added another goal with 4:43 left in the first period scored by Alex Kromm to give the Pointers a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Things started to turn around for UW-Eau Claire in the second period as the team skated with fresher legs and fought back with physical play of their own.
Jake Hopfner (So. – Eastpointe, MI) buried a puck in front of the net after with bodies everywhere to give the Blugolds their first goal scored with 8:21 left in the second period assisted by Brandon Wahlin (Jr. – White Bear Lake, MN) and Todd Koritzinsky (So. – Verona, WI).
After finally breaking the ice, the Blugolds continued to add pressure for the rest of the period outshooting the Pointers 17-7, but were unable to put another puck past Pointer goalie Max Milosek before the end of the second frame.
The Blugolds continued to press in the third period and found the equalizer on a blast from the point from Lucas Kohls (So. – Forest Lake, MN) scored just under four minutes into the period assisted by Garret Clemment (Jr. – Wausau, WI) and Adam Knochenmus (Jr. – Roseau, MN).
Both teams had numerous opportunities to find the game-deciding goal for the rest of the period and into the overtime session, but the teams will now have to be content with deciding it tomorrow night.
In a series where special teams play looms large, both teams went 0-3 with the man advantage in this game due to very strong penalty killing play from both sides.
Goaltender Jay Deo (Jr. – Langley, British Columbia) gave up the two first period goals, but was rock solid for the rest of the night to allow the Blugolds to climb back into the game saving 26 of the 28 Pointer shots on goal. Head coach Matt Loen will have a decision to make in selecting a starting goaltender for tomorrow night.
The puck will drop for the second game of the WIAC Semifinals tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Hobbs Ice Arena.