Women’s hockey ties with UW-River Falls
After a 6-1 defeat at the hands of UW-Superior on Nov. 3, the Women’s Hockey team is inching back to success as they have narrowly missed victory in each of the four games since then.
The team is 0-2-2 since then, however, the two losses, against Adrian College, were decided by one goal. Also, the team has not let in more than three goals in that timeframe. Also, head coach Mike Collins said that the series against River Falls on Nov. 16 and 17 was a success. The team played to a 1-1 tie with River Falls on Nov. 16 and the next night came away with a 2-2 tie.
“Two points against in a weekend is huge. Their as good a team as we’re going to see. They have more skill than any team in the league,” Collins said. “They tested us and tested us, but we had great goaltending. We had a relentless work ethic and we just didn’t quit.”
Collins also said that not only to play River Falls tough, but to have control of the games for as long as UW-Eau Claire did is an accomplishment in itself.
“We didn’t play pretty, but we held them and held them,” he said. “We had the lead in both games for the better part of two periods. That says a ton about our work ethic and any coach will tell you, ‘you can’t ask for anything more.’”
At the forefront of the play has been goalie Paige Turner, a sophomore transfer who was red-shirted at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Nikki Kothenbeuthel, a junior forward. In the four-game stretch, Turner has started 3 of those games. In that span she has given up only five goals.
“Coming in, it was kind of hard because I hadn’t played in a year and I have to be on my A-game,” Turner said. “So, it feels really great. I feel like I am getting back on my groove.”
Collins said that encouraging Kothenbeuthel to take the puck more in front of the net and take more shots. Collins said she has been doing that more often. That is evident by her scoring a goal in two goals in the last two series.
“I’ve been working on shooting the puck more and not just looking for that perfect opportunity because that’s not always there. I guess I have been focused on getting more goals in a game so I have more opportunities to score goals. That has been my own personal goal.”
Last series vs. River Falls
In the games on Nov. 16 and 17, the Blugolds Women’s Hockey team earned two points from NCHA rival River Falls, who came into the series ranked seventh in the nation on the USCHO.com Women’s Hockey poll. After playing to a tie in the first game, the game on Nov. 17, the Blugolds played River Falls from the confines of Hobbs Ice Arena and picked up where they left off the night before on their home turf, playing one of the top teams of the conference tough. The Blugolds jumped out to an early 1-0 in the first period off of a goal from Andi Husted, a sophomore defender.
After a goal from River Falls senior forward Alyssa Black, Kothenbeuthel would give the team a 2-1 lead at 7:54 in the second, her second in as many series giving her a total of three points this season. The game would end after a 2-2 tie following a goal from Chloe Kinsel of River Falls.
“The sign of any good team is consistency,” Collins said after the game on Nov. 17. “Tonight, we showed that we can play two games back-to-back with great effort and yeah, we would have loved to get the win, but some ties feel like wins. Both of the ties this weekend, gave us that feeling.”
The Blugolds look to continue the string of games and possibly pick up a victory against St. Norbert, who is 3-1-2 so far this season, putting them in three-way tie for fifth in the NCHA. St. Norbert currently has five points, one more than the Blugolds who are eighth in the conference. The games are Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m.