RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- Steve Zierke (Brooklyn Park, MN, Alexandria, NAHL) scored his first collegiate goal and Jeff Burke (New Richmond, WI, Topeka, NAHL) scored the eventual game-winning goal as the Falcons defeated the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds, 3-2, on Thursday night at Hunt Arena.
The Falcons, coming off of a 4-1 defeat at UW-Stevens Point, secured two points with the win and are now in a tie with St. Scholastica for second place in the NCHA with 18 points.
Scott Lewan (Westland, MI, Alberni Valley, BCHL) made his 21st start of the season in goal for UWRF. Brandon Stephenson got the start in the crease for the Blugolds.
The Blugolds got on the board first, at 9:41 in the first period, when Ross Anderson found the back of the net on the power play to give UWEC a 1-0 lead. David Donnellan and Tyler Romasco were credited with assists.
Just 54 second later, at 10:35 in the first period, Steve Zierke answered for the Falcons on his first collegiate goal to tie the game at 1-1. Blake Huppert (Wasilla, AL, Alaska, NAHL) fed Zierke nicely from cross ice to get his tenth assist of the season.
In the second period, the Blugolds would regain the lead at 1:56 when Ross Anderson scored his second goal of the game and tenth of the year to make the score 2-1. Jordan Singer and Tyler Romasco picked up assists on the goal.
The Falcons, once again, answered quickly to make it a 2-2 game when Willie Hess (Lino Lakes, MN, Fresno, NAHL) tapped in his ninth of the year, at 3:33, after Justin Brossman (Littleton, CO, Sioux City, USHL) left the puck in the crease after streaking in on a breakaway. Brossman and Jon Schreiner (Lakeville, MN, Fairbanks, NAHL) were credited with the assists.
Finally, at 11:49 in the second, Jeff Burke would net his fourth of the season and the eventual game-winner on a snipe from the right side circle. Ryan Goodmanson (Clear Lake, WI, Kenai River, NAHL) and Caleb Wolfgram (White Bear Lake, MN, Topeka, NAHL) got assists on the goal.
"In this league there are no easy games – every game is a grind," said Falcon Coach Steve Freeman after the win. "We played well defensively tonight. We tried to keep things simple – get the puck in and out. And then we rely on our skilled players to get goals."
The Falcons outshot the Blugolds, 14-7, in the first period and 26-22 overall. UWEC held the shot advantage in the second period, 9-7, and the third period, 6-5.
The Falcons were 0-3 on the power play and now fall to 0-11 in their two game on the man-advantage.
Lewan finished the game with 20 saves and improves his record to 14-5-2 on the season. Stephenson had 23 saves and drops to 8-8-2.
UWRF improves to 14-6-2 overall and 8-5-2 in the NCHA. UWEC falls to 11-9-2 and 5-9-1 in the NCHA.
The Falcons will now travel to UW-Stout to take on the Blue Devils on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m.
"This has become a great rivalry game," said Freeman when asked about the matchup with UW-Stout, "They are very tough to defend because they play a wide open game."