Lions take big steps on the road

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — While the Finlandia Lions men’s hockey team dropped both games last weekend, and are staring another road trip to Wisconsin in the eyes this weekend, head coach Joe Burcar feels that his team turned a corner last weekend. The Lions, who fell to 0-5-1 on the season, dropped a 6-1 decision to Wisconsin-River Falls on Friday before falling 3-2 to Wisconsin-Superior on Saturday.

In Friday’s game, Burcar felt that his team did not do enough to help out freshman goaltender Marcus Gloss.

“We felt he gave us the best chance to win Friday night,” said Burcar. “We thought he played extremely well. We felt the team gave up on him in the third.”

What was a 2-0 game after 40 minutes quickly turned into a 5-0 game in the first 10:16 of the third. Burcar felt that stretch was a turning point in the young season.

“That third goal, for us, was kind of the dagger,” said Burcar. “We long talk after that game, behind closed doors. We’re not going to say that is a learning curve. That was us not competing for 60 minutes.”

After that meeting, the Lions traveled to Superior and nearly overcame a 2-0 deficit after cutting the lead to one, 3-2, just 6:44 into the final frame.

While a far from perfect effort, Burcar praised the response his team gave to locker room dressing down they received Friday with a much more solid game on Saturday.

“In my time here, that was one of the first times the team really buy into what we are doing and compete at a level that is expected,” said Burcar. “We had opportunities right up to the end.”

Three things happened this past weekend that were positives for the Lions.

First, Gloss made his first Friday night start, and despite giving up six goals in the game, he stepped in on Saturday for the third period and stopped all 14 shots the Yellowjackets threw his way.

Second, captain Alex Rezansoff finally found the back of the net on Friday. He followed that up with an assist on Saturday. Burcar likes the effort his captain is putting in and feels that it is starting to rub off on his teammates.

Third, on Saturday, sophomore Blake Peavy and junior Michael Chuinard both picked up assists as the two transfers are starting to find the scoresheet.

This weekend, the Lions return to the road to face Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Another traditionally strong nonconference opponent, the Bluegolds are just 5-3 to start the season losing to St. Norbert and beating Lawrence last weekend.

The Bluegolds are led offensively by a trio of seniors, Mac Jensen, Jesse Tredinnick, and Jake Hopfner. All three have at least six points though the team’s first eight games.