By Justin Dade, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The No. 8 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire men's hockey team returned to Hobbs Ice Arena for their first conference home game and fell to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Falcons 2-1 on Saturday night to drop to an overall record of 7-3-3 on the season.
UW-Eau Claire's strong end to the game came up short as the Falcons' got a very strong outing from goaltender Tanner Milliron who saved 30 of the 31 Blugold shots on net.
As usual between these two teams, the game had a quick pace early paired with a physical nature as the Falcons started the period strongly.
The period looked like it was going to end without a tally, but the Falcons found the back of the net with 4:48 to go as they were assisted by two Blugold penalties leading to a 5-on-3 power play goal scored by Kyle Gattelaro.
The Falcons added another goal on a 2-on-1 breakaway from a shot from Mike Fazio placed below the glove of Blugold goaltender Tyler Green (Sr. – Noblesville, IN) with just 51 seconds left in the first period.
The Blugolds came out strong in the second period after being outshot 17-8 in the first period with better puck movement and more offensive zone time.
The Blugolds got on the board with 5:58 left in the second on a goal from T.J. Stuntz (So. – Austin, TX) from a beautiful feed from Jake Hopfner (So. - Eastpointe, MI) who got a pass from Jesse Tredinnick (So. – Onalaska, WI).
UW-Eau Claire fought hard the rest of the period, but were unable to get another puck behind Milliron while adding 11 more shots on goal throughout the period.
The Falcons retreated to a defensive mode for the third period and despite a barrage of shots from the Blugolds, they held on for the win.
The Blugolds won 37 of the 65 face offs on the night and were led by Hopfner who won 11 of his 14 attempts in the faceoff circle.
Green recorded his second loss of the season in a solid outing saving 31 of the 33 Falcons' shots to send his record to 4-2-1 on the season.
The Blugolds will look to get back on track next weekend for their last game of December at home next Saturday against Hamline University. The puck will drop at Hobbs Ice Arena at 7 p.m.