Dylan Johnson
Photo by Holden Law

Two teams traveling in opposite directions faced off at the Fanetti Community Center in Menomonie, Wis. on Saturday, Dec. 7. The Yellowjackets came into the game sitting in second place in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) and riding a four-game winning streak, their longest since the 2012-13 season. UW-Stout, on the other hand, had won just one game this season; dropping five of their previous six.

It was a difficult night for the Yellowjackets, as they struggled from the opening face-off until the final buzzer and saw their win streak go by the boards. UW-Stout scored in each period and weathered a Yellowjacket storm midway through the game on the way to a 4-2 win.

Stout came out hard in the first period and was all over the Yellowjackets early. The Blue Devils broke through when Konnar Dechaine’s shallow-angle shot hit the outside of the goal and then the back of goaltender Oscar Svensson (Södertälje, Sweden/Haga Gymnasium) before crossing the line to open the scoring at 5:29. Stout extended the lead at 14:51 of the period when Logan Nelson found a loose puck on a goal-mouth scrum and lifted it over Svensson to make it a 2-0 game.

As the second period unfolded the Yellowjackets appeared to find their footing, taking charge of the pace of play and outshooting the Blue Devils 14-8 in the frame. They finally broke through at 7:29 of the second when Dylan Johnson (Cloquet, Minn./Cloquet) scored shorthanded, ripping a slap shot from the right circle over the glove of Stout goaltender Brennan Kitchen’s glove to cut the lead to 2-1. Colton Nelson (Grand Rapids, Mich./Edmond North) assisted.

Before the announcer could even finish announcing the goal the Yellowjackets pulled even. Andrew Durham (Richardson, Texas/Plano East) continued his torrid start, scoring for the third straight game with a hard wrist shot from the high slot that evaded Kitchen up high. Jordan Martin (Winnipeg, Manitoba/Vincent Massey Collegiate) assisted on Durham’s team-best sixth goal of the year.

It looked like the teams would head to the locker room tied after 40 minutes, but the Blue Devils had other ideas, converting on a power play with under 12 seconds to go in the period to break the tie for good. Nelson scored his second of the game on a one-timer from the slot to make it 3-2.

Stout would then score the only goal of the third period at 12:49 when Peter Verstegen poked a rebound past Svensson to give the Blue Devils an insurance goal and a 4-2 lead.

The Yellowjackets pulled Svensson for an extra attacker with three minutes to play, but the goals never came and the Blue Devils earned the win.

Svensson finished the night with 21 saves for the Yellowjackets, while Kitchen made 28 for Stout.

The result of this contest, coupled with Northland’s 3-2 win over UW-Stevens Point further muddled the standings in the WIAC. UW-Eau Claire gained some separation from the rest of the pack with their win over UW-River Falls, but the remaining five teams are separated by just three points.

The ‘Jackets return to action on Friday, Dec. 13 at Northland at 7:05 p.m.