Yellowjackets split home and away series with Stout

The Yellowjacket men’s hockey team was riding a five game winning streak entering play this weekend. The winning streak came after their season opening loss to cross-bridge rival St. Scholastica. The Jackets had their win streak snapped in Menomine, Wis. on Friday night as the 14th ranked Jackets suffered their second loss of the year to the UW-Stout Blue Devils falling 4-1.

Not much went the Yellowjackets way on Friday as a slow start ended up dooming them in the end. The Blue Devils notched two power play goals in the first period to take an early lead and they never looked back.

Sam Carr tallied on a power play goal at 4:46 of the first period tipped in a rebound past UWS goaltender Drew Strandberg.

At the 15:28 mark of the period, Yellowjacket Kyle Leahy was called for cross checking and went to the box. The Blue Devils converted their second power play chance of the night on a goal by Garrett Grimstead. Grimstead beat Strandberg on a shot from the right circle to make it 2-0 at the 16:00 mark of the first period.

The Blue Devils added two more in the second period on goals by Zach Vierling and Kevin O’Donnell.

The UWS special teams had several opportunities on Friday and were only able to convert one of those chances. Stout player Gavin Tufte served a two minute minor for having too many players on the ice late in the second period and the Jackets were able to avoid the shutout with a power play goal. John Forsythe let a shot go that beat Blue Devil goalie Nick Hopper to make it 4-1. The goal was assisted by Joey Massingham and Pat Dalbec. But that would be all the Jackets would get.

The Jackets outshot the Blue Devils 33-17 including 15 shots in the third. Jacket special teams were 1-12 on the power play dropping their season total 19 percent. In total 17 penalties were issued in Friday night’s contest.

Strandberg took his first loss of the year for the Jackets making 13 saves. Stout goaltender Hopper made 32 saves for the Blue Devils.

Saturday night was a different story. The Jackets got off to a strong start and avoided a Stout comeback as they held off the Blue Devils 6-4 Saturday night as Wessman Arena in front of 783 fans.

The Yellowjackets started strong as Joey Massingham collected his own rebound and put the Jackets up 1-0 at the 8:09 mark of the first period. Kyle Leahy and Pat Dalbec were credited with the assists. The goal was Massingham’s fourth of the year.

Stout tied things up at one midway through the first on an even strength goal by Jake Useldinger. Useldinger tipped a shot past Drew Strandberg to make it 1-1.

In the final minute of the first, Brett Myers backhanded a shot past Stout goaltender Tom Lescovich unassisted to make it a 2-1 game.

The Yellowjackets turned it on the second period as they notched two goals. After a clearing attempt on a power play, the Jackets caught the Blue Devils on a line change as Strandberg fed Brett Wold waiting at the blue line who centered a pass for Tanner Dion and he flipped it past Lescovich to put the Yellowjackets up 3-1.

Dion would later assist on a Pat Dalbec goal to make it 4-1 in the second. Wold took a pass from Dion at the right point and found a wide open Dalbec on in front of the net and the junior forward buried his fourth goal of the season.

The first two periods were dominated by UWS. The Jackets plugged up every lane and gave Stout hardly any chances to get something going. The Jackets were able break up any chance the Blue Devils by cleaning up rebounds in front of their own net and they seemed to be getting a stick or skate on every pass or shot the Blue Devils attempted.

But the Blue Devils weren’t ready to give up just yet. They rallied in a big way to tie the game at four in the third period. Tate Rusk drove a shot in on Strandberg from the left side and beat him to make 4-2. Three minutes later, Kevin O’Donnell notched his second goal of the series to pull Stout within one goal of the Yellowjackets. They made the comeback complete as Zach Vierling tied the game on a pass from Garrett Grimstead and beat Strandberg.

But just under a minute later any momentum Stout had gained was taken away. Junior Brad Phenow led a rush up the left wing and attempted to stuff a wrap around in on goaltender Lescovich. After denying the initial attempt, Cody Hotchkin jumped on the loose puck and slid it over the goal line to give the Jackets a 5-4 lead and suddenly the team and the building was reinvigorated. The game winning goal came at the 13:03 mark of the third period.

Stout had a few chances down the stretch but nothing serious as they couldn’t get the game tied back up.

Tanner Dion notched his second goal of the game on an empty netter to put the game away for the Yellowjackets. Dion finished with three points and was a plus-3. Pat Dalbec extended his scoring streak to eight games with a goal and an assist. Brett Wold had two assists.

The UWS special teams were 1-3 on the power play Saturday night while their penalty kill was 5-6. The Jackets power play percentage now sits at 21 percent while the Jacket penalty kill is hovering around 85 percent

Strandberg stopped 17 shots en route to his fourth victory of the year. Lescovich stopped 24 shots for the Blue Devils.

The Yellowjackets (6-2-0, 4-2-0 NCHA) will take on Concordia College at Wessman Arena in Superior, Wis. on November 21. Face-off is set for 5:05 p.m

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