Eau Claire competed against Bethel University (Minn.) over the weekend, losing their season opener 2-1 Friday, but bouncing back to defeat Bethel 3-1 Saturday at home.
It was a new experience for many of the players, since the team has 13 freshmen and only seven returning from last year.
“It’s definitely a learning process,” junior Lauren Havard said. “The returners have to show the way to the freshmen so they know how things are done.”
The Blugolds started their season off in Minnesota Friday night. Neither team could score in the first period. But it didn’t take long for Bethel to get on the board in the second period, scoring at 2:10 into the period. They added to that lead 10 minutes into the period.
Eau Claire could not muster a goal until the third period, when freshman Maddi Hammer scored with assists from junior Margaret Campbell and sophomore Beth Dittrich. Eau Claire tried a last ditch effort to tie it up by pulling freshman goaltender Danika Porter with over a minute left to play, but the team could not capitalize, and fell 2-1.
The Blugolds outshot Bethel 14-6, but still could not come up with the win.
“We knew we were the better team,” freshman Kristin Faber said. “I know a lot of the freshmen were nervous. But we got a game under us and we knew we had to come back and win.”
Eau Claire returned home Saturday night for a rematch against Bethel at Hobbs Ice Arena.
Again, neither team could score in the first period. But this time it was was the Blugolds who got things started in the second period. Dittrich scored an unassisted goal four minutes into the second quarter.
Bethel quickly returned the favor, scoring almost ten minutes into the second period, tying the game.
Penalties were a problem for both teams, but Eau Claire was able to capitalize on a four-on-three player advantage. With four seconds left, Faber scored a goal with assists from freshman Christine Knop and Havard.
The Blugolds added to the lead in the third period. Freshman Christine Dickinson scored a goal with an assist from Hammer. The Blugolds held Bethel to only four shots on goal in the third period and only 17 total. That gave Eau Claire the win in their first home game.
Porter stopped 16 of those 17 shots against her. She now has a 1.5 goals against average for the season.
“Anytime you have a home game, you have the advantage so you want to get the win,” Faber said.
The hockey team will take on St. Thomas University (Minn.) on Friday. The team then has its alumni game before taking on St. Mary’s University (Minn.) on Saturday evening. Both games are at Hobbs Ice Arena.
The team wants to get more wins at home before heading out on the road to play Concordia University (Minn.)
“It was really important,” Havard said. “It sets the tone for the rest of the season. We want to protect our record and our rink.”