Yellowjackets Advance To WIAC Title Game With Sweep of River Falls

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.

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