New season brings new faces

Adrian Northrup

With winter approaching comes a new hockey season. With the new season comes a fresh sheet of ice and a positive outlook on this year’s women’s team.

Not only does the UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team have a fresh attitude after finishing the 2005-2006 season with a losing record, coach Mike Collins finalized his roster last week with an abundance of freshmen set to take on significant roles on the ice.

“We will be a little deeper at all positions with the addition of nine new freshmen,” he said.

Collins mentioned Beth Dittrich, a freshman forward, as being a player who could have an immediate impact.

“Dittrich is going to have a great college career,” he said. “She has great skills and energy . (and) is a great addition to the team.”

Collins said another strong newcomer is Michelle Stohr, who is one of four freshmen defenders for the ‘Golds this season.
“Stohr is going to play a big part on our defensive end,” he said.

Eau Claire also returns 12 letterwinners and its top two leaders in points last season, Lauren Havard with 26 and Martina Korinek with 21.

Karen Hebert, a senior who finished fourth in points last season, said this year’s team has a good mix of veterans and freshmen.

“We have a strong returning class of players and a solid group of freshman with a lot to offer,” she said. “We have potential to be better than what we were two years ago.”

Two years ago, the Blugolds finished 15-9-1, its first winning season in team history, capped off by a third place finish in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association tournament.

Dittrich hopes the team can make it to the playoffs in her first year, and is excited about the women’s hockey program.

“(The team) is dedicated, hard working, and growing,” she said.

Collins said goaltending was an issue last season, but he is optimistic about this year. He said freshmen Mikaela Jobman and Bri Lutz will compete and either one could take the starting role before their Nov. 3 opener against Bethel University (Minn.) at St. Thomas (Minn.).

Last season, the team finished 7-12-6 overall and 1-8-6 in the NCHA
Collins said the Blugolds season wasn’t as bad as it looked on paper, noting six overtime losses that could have made a difference.

Collins believes the NCHA will be competitive this year, noting UW-Superior, UW-Stevens Point and UW-River Falls as tough competition.

Despite the strong conference, Collins and the Blugolds have a fresh attitude about the upcoming season.

“I’m excited for this year,” he said. “We have a great group with great chemistry. Everything in practice has been positive.”