Lions topple Blugolds, 1-0
HANCOCK — It may not have been the biggest victory in Finlandia University men’s hockey history.
But the 1-0 win the Lions squeezed out against No. 5 UW-Eau Claire Saturday afternoon at the Houghton County Arena certainly has to rank way up there.
Finlandia coach Joe Burcar, who has seen many of the big wins in the school’s history, had high grades for it.
“That is going to go down, and it’s been some time, as one of the biggest wins we’ve had here,” he said. “That (UW-Eau Claire) is a very good team ….. they’re not ranked fifth in the country in Division III for nothing. It was a gutsy, gutsy effort by our guys.”
The lone goal was scored early in the second period when Cale Markham of Houghton was credited with batting a puck that knuckleballed past Blugolds’ netminder David Johnson. Hunter Kero of Hancock got an assist the marker.
“It was just a basic play, we were just looking for a set play to get a shot on net. The puck hit a forward’s stick and sort of butterflied past the goaltender,” Burcar said. “It was a break, but we’ll take it.”
Finlandia goalie Marcus Gloss made that one goal stand up, blocking 40 shots for his first collegiate shutout.
The former Houghton High standout gave full credit to his teammates.
“The guys were out there blocking shots all night,” said Gloss, who was pulled after one period in Friday night’s 4-3 loss. “I wasn’t thinking a shutout or anything like that, but I was seeing the puck pretty well. And we just played well as a team.”
Burcar gave kudos to his goaltender.
“It was a tough weekend for Marcus, and for him to respond like he did, says a lot about his character. He made some very tough saves,” he said.
The mettle of Gloss — and his teammates — was especially tested in the final five minutes of the contest when several power play chances had the bigger Blugolds buzzing the net.
Gloss was called on to make three saves in the final 1:59 when the visitors had extra attacker. That became a two-man advantage when Jones was pulled with 1:09 left.
Gloss was up to the challenge, especially when he made a tough glove save of a point-blank shot by Kyle Froese of UW-E with 39 ticks left.
“Yeah, it was a little pressure-filled at the end,” he said. “I just had to battle a little more …. the only thing you can do is go out there and give the team a chance to win.”
Ability to win faceoffs was another key to the upset, as Kero won 11 of his 12 opportunities and Blake Peavey took 10 of 11 of his chances.
The 3-5-1 Lions will host Marian Friday and Lawrence Saturday in two big conference matches.
“This really helps us after last weekend. We knew we didn’t have a good showing but we had a good week of practice and responded in the best way,” Burcar said.
The Blugolds dropped to 9-2 on the season.
UW-Eau Claire 0 0 0 – 0
Finlandia 0 1 0 – 1
1, FU, Cale Markham (Hunter Kero), :16
Johnson (UWE) 5 9 10 – 24
Gloss (FU) 18 8 14 – 40
Penalties: UWE 5, FU 7.