River Falls Holds Conference Lead; Stout Moves Into Second
Wisconsin-Stout, by virtue of a weekend sweep, moves up two spots this week in the NCHA standings, but still trails Wisconsin-River Falls by two points following its split last weekend.
In other NCHA action on the weekend, Wisconsin-Stevens Point and St. Norbert played host to Norwich and Middlebury, coming away with a record of 1-3. Middlebury swept its Western trip with a 7-1 victory over Stevens Point on Friday and a 1-0 win at St. Norbert on Saturday.
Wisconsin-River Falls: The NCHA leading Wisconsin-River Falls Falcons split on the weekend, dropping their first NCHA game of the season to last place Wisconsin-Superior on Friday 5-3, but rebounding convincingly on Saturday, topping St. Scholastica 12-3.
Friday, the Falcons fell behind 3-0 in the first period and were never able to rebound. Down 3-0 in the second, defenseman Adam Kragthorpe picked up his fifth goal of the season on the power play to cut the Yellow Jackets’ lead to two, and then to one on a goal by Carl Boben.
Jeff Bernard tied the game seven-plus minutes into the third, but the Falcons couldn’t hold off the ‘Jackets, giving up two goals in the final seven minutes.
On Saturday, the Falcons scored three goals in the first two periods and added six more in the third to trounce the Saints, 12-3.
In the first, David Almquist and Bernard (two goals) picked up the three Falcon goals in the first half of the first and lead 3-1 after one. The second was much like the first as Evan Stensrud, Shane Fukushima and Jamie Steinert scored for the Falcons, who led 6-2 after two.
The third period was a blowout with the Falcons scoring six goals to the Saints’ one. Picking up goals in the third were Jess Johnson, Matt Elsen, Ryan Saverine, Steinert, Bernard and Tyler Sawchyn.
The Falcons make the trip to Concordia-Moorhead on Saturday and then head to St. John’s on Sunday.
Wisconsin-Stout: The surprise team in the NCHA this season is undoubtedly the Wisconsin-Stout Blue Devils. The Devils have amassed a total of eight points in conference this year, already surpassing their total of three from last season. Last weekend, the Devils finished off season sweeps of both St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior, with 6-1 and 5-2 wins.
On Friday, Stout made short work of the Saints. The Devils led 5-0 after two periods on goals from Lewie Kellin and Drew Nichols in the first and Erik Chilson, Dan Winkler and Mitch Kellin in the second. The Devils kept up the pressure in the third, adding one more (Andy Anderson) to finish off the Saints 6-1.
On Saturday, the Blue Devils topped the Yellow Jackets of Superior 5-2, finishing off the season sweep of the northern NCHA teams. The Blue Devils’ Caleb Shanahan got on the board first just 6:49 in, but the Yellow Jackets scored in the final minute of the period tying it at one.
Stout pushed out in front by three goals in the second, scoring three goals. Brad Weappa, Joshua Marklevits and Cale Finseth scored for the Devils in the second. Leading 4-2 heading into the third, Kevin Aube scored the only goal in the frame, finishing off the scoring at 5-2.
Wisconsin-Stout heads to Concordia-Moorhead on Friday and then to St. John’s on Saturday.
St. Norbert: The Green Knights had a tough weekend, entertaining two of the top teams from the East, Norwich and Middlebury last Friday and Saturday, dropping a 5-2 decision to Norwich and a 1-0 score to Middlebury.
Friday, the Knights fell behind 1-0 in the opening minute of the contest, and it was all downhill from there. Already trailing 5-0, the Knights finally got on the scoreboard six minutes into the third period on a power-play goal by Chris Bodnar. St. Norbert added one more four minutes later (Kyle Peterson), rounding out the scoring.
In the second game, the Knights and Panthers fought through two periods in a scoreless tie. The lone tally eventually belonged to Middlebury, however, leaving the Knights with an 0-2 record on the weekend.
St. Norbert hopes for more success this weekend, traveling to St. Mary’s on Friday and to St. Thomas on Saturday.
Wisconsin-Stevens Point: The Pointers are the first team to score on the Middlebury Panthers, but that tally was the only one the Pointers got against the number-one Panthers, dropping the weekend opener 7-1. Stevens Point rebounded well Saturday, beating Norwich 4-1.
Friday, UWSP trailed 2-0 after one and 4-0 after a 30 minutes before Pierre Nicolet broke Middlebury’s scoreless streak to start the season (268:28). The Panthers added three more goals, putting the Pointers away.
Following a team meeting on Saturday, the Pointers showed up Saturday with new found enthusiasm. The Cadets got on the board first, just 4:28 in, but David Boehm, in his second game since coming back from a knee injury, picked up his first goals of the season, tying the game at one with just three seconds remaining in the first period.
The Pointers and Cadets fought through a scoreless second period, with both teams having countless scoring opportunities.
The third period was much the same as the second: end-to-end action with both teams getting opportunities, but penalties played a major role.
Mikhail Salienko picked up his first goal of the night 4:41 into the third for the eventual game-winner. The Cadets took an ill-advised penalty at 13:13 and Salienko capitalized just :27 into the power play, putting the Pointers up by two. Again on the power play, Boehm picked up his second of the night just 1:15 later, finishing off the Cadets.
Stevens Point heads to Augsburg on Friday and Bethel on Saturday.
Lake Forest: The Foresters played just one game last weekend, dropping a 3-2 conference decision to Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Picking up goals for the Foresters were Adrian Wong and Matt Bruni.
The Foresters head to St. Thomas on Friday and then St. Mary’s on Saturday.
Wisconsin-Eau Claire: The Blugolds met up with the Foresters of Lake Forest last weekend, picking up a 3-2 win, and gaining two more points in the NCHA standings, putting them in a three-way tie with Stevens Point and Lake Forest for fourth place.
The Blugolds trailed 2-1 after two periods, with the lone tally coming from Adam Sklader in the first, but tacked on two in the third to pull out the 3-2 win. Scoring for Eau Claire in the third were Ian Sgambelluri and Sklader.
The Blugolds alternate with Stevens Point this weekend, taking on Bethel on Friday night and Augsburg on Saturday. Both games are on the road.
Wisconsin-Superior: In an uncharacteristic slow start, the Yellow Jackets finally got their first NCHA points on the season with a split with River Falls and Stout. Superior beat NCHA leading River Falls 5-3 on Friday, but dropped the Saturday game 5-2 to Stout.
Friday, the ‘Jackets got out of the gate early as Jeff Glowa scored just 43 seconds into the first 20 minutes and added two more on goals from Cameron Van Sandt and Jay Stewart in the first period.
The second period looked much like the rest of the season as River Falls climbed back into the game by scoring the only two goals of the stanza.
The Falcons tied the game in the third, but the ‘Jackets finished off the Falcons with a goal of their own off the stick of Rob Ziemmer.
Saturday wasn’t as kind to Superior. Reed Larson scored in the first and Jay Stewart in the second for the ‘Jackets, but it wasn’t enough as Superior dropped the 5-2 decision to Wisconsin-Stout.
Superior, like the rest of the NCHA, is on the road this weekend taking on MIAC foes. On Friday, Superior makes the trip to the Twin Cities to take on Gustavus Adolphus and then Saturday, they head to St. Olaf.
St. Scholastica: The weekend was a rough one for St. Scholastica head coach Mark Workman and his Saints, who were outscored 18-4, with 6-1 and 12-3 losses at the hands of Stout and River Falls respectively.
Friday, Josh Oyler scored the lone Saint goal with just 3:16 remaining in the game.
In Saturday’s game, the Saints took one on the chin from the Falcons of River Falls. The Saints were able to score in each of the three periods, but it wasn’t enough as they saw River Falls score at least three in each period. Neil Runbeck scored for CSS in the first, Brandon Johnson in the second and Nick Dolentz in the third.
St. Scholastica goes on the road this weekend, playing St. Olaf on Friday and Gustavus Adolphus on Saturday.
Game(s) to watch this weekend:
With the early success of both River Falls and Stout, the Friday and Saturday matchups between Falls and Stout with MIAC leader Concordia will answer a lot of early questions about which conference will have two representatives in the NCAA tournament. If Stout can continue its recent hot play and River Falls continues to play well, it will be a long weekend for the MIAC.
Overall, the MIAC has not matched up well against the NCHA this season. So far, the NCHA holds a 15-3-1 record against its neighbors to the West; last season, the NCHA pulled out a 32-22-5 record versus the MIAC, including Superior’s sweep of Concordia in the playoffs.