FOND DU LAC, Wis. - The Marian University men's hockey team (4-3-3, 2-3-1 NCHA) defeated No. 10 UW-Eau Claire 5-2 to win the Thanksgiving Showdown. With the win the Sabres improved to 2-2-2 on the year against teams ranked inside the top-10 of the nation.
"It was a great team effort overall," said assistant coach Lincoln Nguyen following the win. "It's great for our guys to start to believe that we can play with some of the best teams in the nation, and it gives us that extra push that ultimately leads to these big wins."
Jake Howie opened the scoring at the 13:07 mark with a shot from the left circle that went through the five hole of the UWEC goalie. Ben Morgan and Curtis Lewington assisted on the goal, but the Sabres weren't done yet as Warren Carter redirected a puck in front of the net to put the Sabres up 2-0 shortly after. Justin Cooke along with Morgan assisted the goal, which was Carter's third of the year.
The Blugolds took advantage of a power play opportunity in the final minute of the opening stanza as they cut their deficit to 2-1.
The second period saw two goals seperated by a mere 15 seconds as Devin Stuermer lit the lamp on a rebound, assisted by Derek Thorogood and Hunter Stewart, before the Blugolds answered right back to put the game at 3-2.
Howie then gave the Sabres a comfortable 4-2 lead with his second goal of the game, fourth of the season, as he beat the blocker of the UWEC goalie from the right circle. Stuermer then scored an empty netter in the final minute of the third period to seal the 5-2 victory.
"We played on our toes and we were able to punch back," commented Nguyen on the strong third period. "We've been battle tested and in this situation before. It's good for the culture and the program to believe that we can push forward."
Mike Gudmandson finished the night with 29 saves with 12 of his stops coming in the third period.
"[Gudmandson] was solid for us all night," commented Nguyen on the play of the sophomore goaltender. "He made some big timely saves, and was really able to stay calm and collected when they started to make a late push."
Morgan recorded a career-high three assists in the game to go with a +3 on-ice rating, while Gianni Mangone had a game-high five shots on net.
Marian returns to NCHA play next weekend when they travel to St. Scholastica Dec. 4-5.