Women’s hockey drops close one against St. Catherine

Scott Gurgel

After 11 days without a game, the Eau Claire women’s hockey team returned to action Wednesday night with a home match against the College of St. Catherine (Minn.).

The Wildcats entered the game riding a three game winning streak, while the Blugolds had dropped their last two games.

Both streaks continued, as Eau Claire fell 2-1 to drop its season record to 4-6.

Eau Claire outshot St. Catherine 10-5 in the first period, but was unable to get a shot past Wildcats’ goalie Kendra Maxson.

St. Catherine got a goal at the 11 minute, three second mark of the first period when defenseman Robyn Lunda shot the puck through a crowd from outside the left face-off circle.

Coach Mike Collins was expecting the team to be a little out of sync in the first period because of the longer time off between games.

“It’s tough to be as sharp after a longer break like that,” he said. “We expected to be a little off.”

In the second period, Eau Claire seemed to get more aggressive on the offensive end, yet the Blugolds managed only nine shots in the period.

Junior Connie Cameron tied the game for the Blugolds at 6:47 of the second, getting a loose puck at center ice and skating past two Wildcat defenders along the boards before sneaking it past Maxson.

St. Catherine responded, reclaiming the lead at 13:08 on a breakaway goal.

Eau Claire freshman Tara Berlute played very well at goalie in the second and third periods, making several point-blank saves.

She made a save in the third period that Collins called a “big league” save, keeping the score at 2-1.

There was a crowd in front of the net to Berlute’s right, and the puck squirted out to the front of the net. Berlute found the puck just as a St. Catherine attacker was getting the shot off, and she was able to get her pad on it.

“I didn’t know it was over there until I heard the crowd start yelling,” Berlute said. “I stuck my leg out right when she was getting the shot off.”

A scoreless third period sent Eau Claire to its sixth loss of the season, but Collins said he is still happy with the way the season has gone.

“I’d be happier if we were 6-4 as opposed to 4-6,” he said. “I’m pleased with the improvement. We’re still a young team. We’re getting there.”