MOORHEAD, Minn. (1/18/20)--- What a difference 18 hours makes. On Friday night Concordia was hammered in the series opener with No.3-ranked Wis.-Eau Claire. On Saturday afternoon the Cobbers looked like a team that was ready to make a playoff run as they scored three unanswered goals and beat the Blugolds 3-2.
Concordia conceded the first two goals of the game, and it looked like CC was headed for a similar outcome as Friday night but then the Cobber offense got on track and the defense was able to shut down the high-powered Eau Claire offense to come away with the last-minute win.
The victory puts an end to a 4-game winless streak for the Cobbers who are now 5-8-2 overall. The game was also the last non-conference contest for Concordia. CC finishes the year with a 3-5-1 mark in non-MIAC games.
The loss is only the third of the season for nationally-ranked Eau Claire who started the year by not losing in the first 11 games. The Blugolds are now 12-3-1 for the season.
The first period went back-and-forth with both teams having chances to score. The Cobbers used a more physical style to neutralize the Eau Claire offense. It looked like the teams would skate to the first break deadlocked at 0-0 but then the Blugolds got on the board with an even-strength goal at the 14:48 mark.
Even though Concordia trailed, they still had the energy level needed to compete with nationally ranked teams. The Cobbers had nine shots on goal in the first frame which was the most they had all weekend to that point.
The game could have turned against Concordia in the first minute of the second period when Eau Claire scored after only 28 seconds.
Perhaps the turning point of the game came at the 6:28 mark of the second period when Concordia was whistled for a second straight penalty that gave the Blugolds a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a full 1:30. CC killed off both penalties which could have put UWEC up by at least three goals.
Concordia used that penalty kill momentum to turn up the offense but still couldn't get on the board and trailed 2-0 until the decisive final five minutes of the middle period. That's when Concordia top goal scorer Aaron Herdt turned on the scoring magic and tied the game with two goals in a span of 4:19.
Herdt scored the Cobbers' first goal on the power play at 15:05. He took a pass from Tanner Okeson at the top of the right faceoff circle. He then drove to the middle of the ice and fired a laser-guided wrist shot that went past a Blugold defender who dropped to one knee for the block. It then somehow eluded two players camped on top of the crease and whistled into the top left corner of the net.
The Eau Claire goalie never saw the puck coming and Herdt picked up his seventh goal of the season. Okeson and Tyler Bossert earned the assists on the CC opener.
The second goal also came on the power play and featured an unusual assist. Herdt once again received the puck at the top of the right faceoff circle after Bossert had gained the zone and dropped the puck. Bossert once again cut to the middle of the ice to try and avoid a defender but this time he lost control of the puck. He was finally able to get control at the top of the left circle and then snapped off a shot that was GPS guided into the top right corner of the net. The puck had to get by four players and the goalie who were all stacked up at the top of the crease.
Herd't game-tying goal came just before the second break at 19:24 and gave CC all the momentum in the game.
The goal was made even more special by the fact that Cobber goalie Cam Haugenoe started the play after UWEC had fired the puck down the ice. He was credited with the assist on the play which was his first collegiate point and the first time a Cobber goalie earned an assist in a game since senior Jacob Stephan had an assist against Hamline in his freshman season in 2017.
The third period featured 24 shots on goal before a last-minute game winner decided the Cobber victory.
The game appeared to be headed for overtime when senior captain Joe Burgmeier gained control of the puck at his own blueline. He then rushed the puck through the neutral zone and slid a pass to the right wing to Jake Ellingson just over the Eau Claire blueline. Ellingson then skated the puck into the right faceoff circle. He was able to get off a shot that the Blugold goalie stopped with his right pad but the puck settled just in front of the crease. Burgmeier never broke stride, headed to the net and was rewarded for his hustle with the great big rebound. Burgmeier arrived just before a UWEC defender, reched out for the puck and 1-timed it past the goalie and into the left side of the net.
The game winner came at 19:09 of the third period and was Burgmeier's second of the season and the first game winner of his Cobber career.
Concordia still had to survive the final 51-seconds and Haugenoe made a pair of big stops in the dying seconds to preserve the upset win.
The Cobbers were outshot 40-33 for the game but was within three shots in all three periods.
Keaton Leininger had a team-high five shots on goal while Burgmeier, Kyle Siemers and Matt Donnelly all added four each.
Haugenoe made 38 saves to record his first win of the season.
Concordia was 2-for-4 on the power play and held Eau Claire scoreless in their four chances with the biggest being the 5-on-3 opportunity in the second period,
INSIDE STAT INFO: The three goals scored by Concordia marks the first time the team has scored more than two goals in 2020 and first since their win over St. Thomas since Dec. 6. The Cobbers are now 5-0-0 when they score more than two goals in a game this season.
UP NEXT: Concordia will finally start up conference play in 2020 when they head to St. Paul to take on Hamline on Jan. 24-25. The Pipers are 3-10-4 overall and 1-4-3 in the MIAC but are unbeaten in their last two games which includes an overtime shootout win over St. John's.
CONCORDIA vs. #3 WIS.-EAU CLAIRE GOALS
Saturday recaps sponsored by Bufffalo Wild Wings: Grab your friends and get to B-Dubs on Sunday nights for College Nights at 9 p.m. 50% off 1 food item with ID and $3 apps at the Buffalo Wild Wings located on Hwy 10 in Moorhead.