RIVER FALLS, Wis.-(uwrfsports.com) – The UW-River Falls men's hockey team hosted UW-Stout in game 2 of the WIAC Semifinals on Saturday night at Hunt Arena. The Falcons needed a win or tie because of their win on Friday night to advance to the WIAC Championship. The Falcons got a third period goal from Cory Lushanko and solid goaltending from Tanner Milliron to tie the Blue Devils 1-1, with the tie the Falcons will host the WIAC Championship game next Saturday night.
The first period began with both teams playing good sound defensive hockey. The Falcons came only allowed one shot to reach their goal tender in the first 10 minutes of action. The Falcons would not be able to generate much offensively, as Stout played a very conservative style, getting across the center ice and dumping the puck in.
The Falcon penalty killers would be tested at the 11:08 mark of the period when Jeff Bergh was called for hooking. The Stout power play would get a few shots through the Falcon defense but Tanner Milliron was there to make the saves.
After the power play, the teams went back to playing good defensive hockey, neither team could get anything going through the neutral zone and most of the time just had to dump the puck in and go chase it. The Falcons would flurry around the Stout net towards the end of the period but could not break the 0-0 tie. The Falcons were out shot by the Blue Devils 7-3. The story of the period was the blocked shots by both teams, the Falcons blocked 10 shots, while the Blue Devils blocked 5.
The second period began with the Falcons increasing their physical play from the first period. The result was UW-Stout being called for cross checking at the 1:19 mark of the period. The Falcons were unable to get anything on goal during the power play and had to rely on a couple of good defensive plays to prevent the Blue Devils from scoring on some odd man rush situations.
The Falcon penalty killers would be tested just minutes after the power play as Cory Lushanko was called for tripping at the 5:15 mark period. Tanner Milliron made a couple of big saves and the Falcon penalty killers blocked a couple of shots to keep UW-Stout from taking the lead on the power play.
Not long after the power play ended, UW-Stout broke the 0-0 tie, when Gavin Smith tucked a rebound past Tanner Milliron, to put the Blue Devils up 1-0.
Both teams would settle into defensive positions after the goal for a couple of minutes then at the 11:07 mark it looked like the Falcons tied the game at 1, when Eddie Matsushima redirected a shot and got pushed into the crease as the puck trickled over the goaline. The refrees ruled that when Eddie fell he pushed the puck over the line with his hand, as a result the goal was disallowed.
The Falcons would pressure the rest of the period as the physical intensity of the game picked up. The Falcons would get a chance late in the period on the power play when UW-Stout was called for tripping at the 18:29 mark of the period.
The Falcon power play generated a couple of great scoring chances before the end of the period, but could not find the back of the net. The second period ended with the Blue Devils up 1-0. The Falcons and Blue Devils both recorded 10 shots a piece in the period.
The third period started with the Falcons having 30 seconds left on the power play. The Falcons were unable to control the opening faceoff and the Blue Devils killed the rest of the power play.
The Falcons would pressure to tie the game for the next several minutes, keeping the UW-Stout goaltender busy, putting pucks to the net. The Falcons finally broke through when Cory Lushanko took a pass from Danny Hamburg and stuffed it past the UW-Stout goalie. The goal was Lushanko's 3rd of the season and it tied the game up at 1.
The Falcons looked to take the lead on the power play less than a minute later when Justin Moody was called for tripping at the 8:31 mark of the period. The Falcons generated some great scoring chances on the power play and even hit the post once, but were unable to take the lead.
After the power play both teams once again played very good, smart hockey. Neither team allowed the other team to get close to the net or sustain any pressure over the next several minutes. Whe UW-Stout did get close, Tanner Milliron was there to shut the door. Milliron recorded 28 saves on the night and 10 in the third period.
The Falcons would generate a few more scoring chances down the stretch, but the third period ended with in a 1-1 tie. The Falcons were out shot in the period by the Blue Devils 10-7.
The game would go into overtime. The Falcons, with their win on Friday night, only needed a tie to move onto the conference championship. The Falcons went after the win in overtime. They dominated the whole overtime period, for the first couple of minutes, the Blue Devils could not get out of their own end and the Falcons peppered the Stout netminder with shots and redirects from all over the ice. The Falcons would go onto out shoot the Blue Devils 6-2 in the overtime period.
The Blue Devils pulled their goalie with 1:30 left in the period looking for the win. With the extra attacker the Blue Devils generated some great chances and made for some very tense moments as Tanner Milliron had to make a couple of saves and a heads up play by one of the defenseman actually saved the game for the Falcons when we swept a loosed puck out of the way just before a Stout player put it in the back of an empty net.
The overtime period ended with the score 1-1, with the tie the Falcons advance to the WIAC Championship game next weekend. Tanner Milliron stopped 28 shots to secure the tie for the Falcons.
The Falcons are back in action next Saturday night when the host UW-Stevens Point in the WIAC Championship game at Hunt Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:05pm.