Three games into the UW-Eau Claire hockey season and the Blugolds offense appears to be a force to be reckoned with.
It took Eau Claire a while to get started on Saturday night, but once the third period rolled around the Blugolds put three pucks in the back of the net in just over a minute en route to a 5-2 victory over Saint Mary’s at the Hobbs Municipal Ice Center.
The Blugolds entered this year with a veteran group of forwards after losing just one senior to graduation from last season’s team.
“Expectations are for us to be a good offensive team and put up some goals,” Blugolds coach Matt Loen said.
Eau Claire outshot Saint Mary’s 21-8 through two periods, but entered the third period tied 1-1, with Andrew McGlynn scoring the lone goal for the Blugolds just 31 seconds into the game.
Less than two minutes into the third period, Jarred Vroman broke the tie, taking advantage of the Cardinals goalie playing without his stick and turning a behind-the-net pass from Tyler Tomberlin into a 2-1 Blugolds lead.
“We came out with a lot of energy and once we got the first goal everything started rolling,” forward Zach Kennedy said.
Six minutes later, the floodgates opened.
Jake Bresser collected a rebound to the left of the net and sent it past the Cardinals goalie for the third goal of the game.
Goal number four came less than a minute later when Nathan Dingmann took the puck across the crease from left to right and slipped it into the back of the net with a nifty backhand.
Finally, Adam Parsells capped off the Blugolds' barrage 23 seconds later, sending a shot into the top left corner of the net to give Eau Claire a 5-1 lead and force the Cardinals into a goalie change.
“We battled through the first and second periods but stayed the course and didn’t come off what we were committed to,” Bresser said.
That was Loen’s message to the team at the second intermission. He said he reminded his squad to keep bearing down. Eventually their shots would find the net.
The 5-2 victory came 24 hours after the Blugolds' 7-2 blowout victory over St. Olaf in which they outshot the Oles 51-23.
“We’re starting to work hard. We tried to be a little finessey and do those skill plays, but now we’re just grinding now,” Bresser said. “We found who we are.”
Sophomore Riley McVeigh held things down for the Blugolds in net on Saturday, stopping 13 of the Cardinals’ 15 shots.
“The guys made it really easy seeing all the pucks from the outside,” McVeigh said. “I had great support in the D-zone getting the puck out, they made it easy.”
McVeigh will battle junior Zach Dyment in net this season after Dyment made 27 starts last season and the first two games of this year.
“We brought (McVeigh) here to play, it’s a challenge for him to keep Dyment on his toes,” Loen said. “He’s not really a backup goalie, I think he’s 1A.”
Eau Claire returns to action on Friday night when the Blugolds hit the road to take on Gustavus Adolphus at 7:05 p.m.
Eau Claire 5, Saint Mary’s 2
Saint Mary’s 1 0 1 — 2
Eau Claire 1 0 4 — 5
First period: 1, Eau Claire, Andrew McGlynn (Logan Von Ruden, Jake Bresser), 0:31; 2, Saint Mary’s Sam Schultz (Tommy Stang, Jack Stang), 17:16. Third period: 3, Eau Claire Jarrad Vroman (Tyler Tomberlin), 1:42; 4, Eau Claire, Bresser (Vroman, Jon Richards), 7:34; 5, Eau Claire, Nathan Dingmann (Steen Cooper, Derek Hammer), 8:21; 6, Eau Claire Adam Parsells (Simon Sagissor), 8:44; 7, Saint Mary’s, PP Alex Dibacco (Jack Stang, Trevor Wilhelm)
Shots on goal: Saint Mary’s 5-3-7—15; Eau Claire 9-12-14—35.
Penalties: Saint Mary’s 11 for 33 mins; Eau Claire 13 for 45 mins.
Goalies: Saint Mary’s: Al Rogers (28 shots, 23 saves), Parker Swanson (7 shots, 7 saves); Eau Claire: Riley McVeigh (15 shots, 13 saves).
Records: Saint Mary’s 0-3-1, Eau Claire 2-0-1.