Dayn Belfour and the UW-Superior men’s hockey team has picked the right time to play their best hockey of the year. As a result the Yellowjacket men’s hockey team will be heading to Eau Claire, Wis. on Saturday, March 8 to play in the first championship in the newly minted WIAC conference. Belfour had a superb weekend in net stopping a combined 61 saves in the two game series and posting his second shutout of the year on Saturday to help lead the Yellowjackets deeper into the playoffs. The Jackets topped River Falls Friday night 2-1 and blanked the 11th ranked Falcons 4-0 on Saturday.
Friday the Yellowjackets got on the board early on senior captain Brad Phenow’s third goal of the year just 2:13 into the game to put the Yellowjackets up 1-0. The score would remain that way until the third as the two teams weren’t able to beat either goaltender.
But in the third after Belfour was run into by Alec Hagaman of River Falls and assessed a goaltender interference penalty, the Yellowjackets were given a chance to extend the lead. And they did just that. Wasting no time, Michael Rey fed Pat Dalbec who fired a shot through traffic and beat Falcon goaltender Scott Lewan. The goal came at the 4:20 mark of the third and just 14 seconds into the man advantage. The goal was Dalbec’s 11th of the year.
The Falcons would cut the lead in half midway through the final frame but the Yellowjackets hung on to knock off River Falls 2-1. Both teams took four penalties each but the Yellowjackets were the ones who cashed in on a chance. UWS was 1-3 while River Falls was 0-3 on the man advantage.
Saturday the Yellowjackets completed the sweep with a 4-0 win over the Falcons. The Jackets netted their first goal at the 7:51 mark of the first on defenseman Connor Faupel’s goal. Andy Singerhouse and Cody Hotchkin assisted on the goal.
Early in the second period Singerhouse added a goal of his own after taking a pass from Dalbec and he beat Lewan to make it 2-0. Rey also added a helper on the play. Lewan only made three saves in the period as the Yellowjackets managed only four shots on net.
In the final frame the Yellowjackets again only managed four shots on goal but made two of them count. In the opening minute of the third, Rey buried his team leading 15th goal of the year to put the Yellowjackets up 3-0. After a disallowed goal that would have been credited to Hotchkin midway through the final period, the Falcons drew a penalty and tested Belfour, but the junior goaltender was equal to the task stopping a point blank chance to keep the shutout alive. The Yellowjackets put the game away at the 18:12 mark of the third when Pat Dalbec scored his 12th of the year to up the lead to 4-0. The goal leaves Dalbec just five points shy of 100 for his career.
In the win, Belfour stopped 33 shots, including 14 in the third period, and improved his season record to 7-6-1. Cody Hotchkin had two assists, and Michael Rey also notched three points with a goal and two assists. Rey is tied for the team lead in points with Dalbec who both 27 points.
The Yellowjackets (11-14-3) will now travel to Eau Claire to take on the defending national champion Blugolds. Eau Claire knocked off UW-Stevens Point in its semifinal to advance to the title game. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. Saturday night, March 8.