Blugolds open conference season
After playing their fourth overtime game in a row, the UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team hopes they aren’t starting a trend.
This past weekend, the Blugolds opened their conference season at home against Concordia University.
Friday night, the Blugolds won the game 3-2 with only 12 seconds remaining in overtime. Saturday night they finished with a 3-3 tie after no one was able to score in the overtime period.
Even though the Blugolds won Friday night and only came out with a tie on Saturday, the team felt they played a better game on Saturday.
“I think we played a much better game, a much more complete game (Saturday night), than we did (Friday) night head coach Mike Collins said. “It’s frustrating because we played well enough to win, but sometimes you just don’t get the breaks.”
Friday night, the Blugolds struggled to find a rhythm in the first two periods. Concordia scored two second period goals to take a 2-0 lead heading into the third period. But facing a deficit, the Blugolds came out and played a solid third period.
It was almost nine minutes into the third period before the Blugolds scored. Sophomore Kristin Faber scored the first goal with an assist from sophomore Kelli Johnson. Less than six minutes after that, freshman Toni Simones scored to tie the game. The third period ended that way and the teams headed to overtime.
With seconds winding down in the third period, it looked like the game would end in a tie. But with only 12 seconds left, Faber put home the game-winning goal to give the Blugolds their second overtime win in a row.
Saturday night, the Blugolds came out and dominated play early on. Sophomore Christine Dickinson put them ahead just 54 seconds into the game. Nine minutes later, freshman Taylor Jenkins gave the Blugolds a two-goal cushion.
Concordia did not go away, however, as they decreased the lead to one when they scored before the end of the first period. Concordia tied the game in the second with a goal about midway through the period.
Then, senior Margaret Campbell scored a shorthanded goal to put the Blugolds back top. The second period would end with the Blugolds ahead 3-2, but early in the third, Concordia tied it up at 3-3.
The third period ended with the teams tied, and for the fourth game in a row, the Blugolds went into overtime. Both teams had chances to end the game, but both goalies made some key saves to keep the game going. The game ended in a tie, and the Blugolds moved their overtime record this season to 2-1-1.
“It’s very emotional, it heightens all the excitement,” Collins said, referring to the overtime games. “Obviously when you’re winning those, it builds character, but I’d just as soon win in regulation, I could handle that.”
Freshman goalie Morgan Pieper was in goal for both games this weekend and has been a part in three of the past four overtime games. She has not lost yet this season and improved her record to 3-0-1.
“I just play like it’s still a regular game,” Pieper said referring to the overtime games. “You can’t add too much pressure to yourself or you psych yourself out.”
The Blugolds will now be on the road for the next five games. They will not return home until after Christmas. Next weekend they travel to Adrian (Mich.) for two non-conference games.