The women’s hockey team is back in full force.
After two disappointing losses last weekend, UW-Eau Claire came out Friday and Saturday sweeping Concordia University (Wis.) and Lake Forest College (Ill.)
Saturday’s win moved the women, who are now 4-0 in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association and 7-4 overall, into the No. 2 spot in the conference.
Saturday, the Blugolds scored an impressive six goals – the most they’ve scored all season – in their first-ever win over Concordia, 6-2.
“I figured we should play well and we should beat Concordia,” coach Mike Collins said. “We hadn’t scored a lot of goals in a while and last night we managed to get six, which is something we haven’t done all year.”
Eau Claire was strong right out of the gates Friday and didn’t let up throughout the game. Freshman Kristin Faber got the contest off to a quick start when she scored the team’s first goal less than two minutes into the game.
Faber scored again later in the period, and a goal by freshman Maddi Hammer put the Blugolds ahead 3-0 at the end of the first.
Concordia put two scores on the board in the second period, but junior Margaret Campbell put up another one for Eau Claire to give the Blugolds a 4-2 lead entering the final stretch.
Concordia remained quiet for the remainder of the game, while the Blugolds put two more goals on the board and outshot the Falcons 22-1 in the final 20 minutes.
Even though Eau Claire was expected to beat Concordia, Collins said it was still a big win for the team.
“That made a big difference after losing two last weekend. It was huge to get back on the winning side,” he said.
That momentum carried over to Saturday, when the Blugolds took on Lake Forest.
“We knew it would be a tougher team,” Collins said. “We just have to play sound fundamentally and win the loose puck battles.”
And that they did.
Though the Foresters got themselves on the board early in the first period, Campbell answered with a power-play goal with less than a minute remaining in the period.
Eau Claire wasted no time in the second period, scoring two goals in the first five minutes of play. The first was off a power play scored by freshman Christine Dickinson. Less than 10 seconds later, sophomore Beth Dittrich put one in the net to increase the lead to 3-1.
“I guess we were all just pumped up,” Hammer said. “We were kind of hyper.”
Lake Forest got another goal in before the end of the period, but it would be the team’s last of the night.
In the third period, the Blugolds limited Lake Forest to four shots on goal, all saved by freshman goalkeeper Lindsay Savat.
In an attempt to tie up the game, the Foresters pulled their goalkeeper with two minutes left in the period. Their plan backfired, however, when junior Lauren Havard scored with about a minute left in the game to seal the win.
“I think we just stepped up our game this time,” Savat said.
“Our team played really well, we played the whole game didn’t let down at all.”
“Tonight was probably the most important game we’ve played so far,” Hammer said. “It bumped us into No. 2 (in the conference).”
Collins was happy with the win and said he knew they were going up against a tougher team.
“I knew we’d have to score three or four to win and that’s what we did,” he said.
The win moved the young team from third to second in the NCHA.
“These are the type of wins that really help a young team learn how to win,” Collins said.
“We played a tight game. The last seven minutes were nail-biters.”