The UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team played UW-Superior twice last weekend at Wessman Arena in Superior, winning 3-2 Friday and losing 4-3 Saturday.
The Blugold women won the first game of the series over the Yellowjackets, who are currently ranked ninth in the nation. Senior Toni Simones started the night off with a power-play goal at 10:37 in the first period to give the Blugolds a 1-0 lead. The women lost the lead when Superior scored two goals within the first two minutes of the second period.
Junior Dani Kerr was able to score about eight minutes into the second period with an assist from Simones to tie the game 2-2. The women switched roles in the third period when Simones scored the eventual game-winning goal with an assist from Kerr at 6:27.
Although UW-Superior was able to get 23 shots on goal, senior goalie Morgan Pieper made 21 saves, which coach Mike Collins said helped lead the Blugolds to victory.
“(Pieper) made three or four saves that were huge when she made them, and they played a huge part in our victory,” Collins said.
Collins said he rarely singles out any one person because of how important each player’s job is to the team but that Pieper had a spectacular game in the net.
Proper preparation and discipline were two things Collins attributed to the team’s victory on Friday.
“We had a good game plan, (the women) executed well, we killed a lot of penalties, and we came out with the win,” Collins said. “We know that if we’re going to score goals we have to crash the net and get rebounds, and we did that.”
Junior forward Casey McMullen said she thought the team put a strong performance together.
“Everyone stepped up and played one of their best games of the season,” McMullen said. “That was a huge win for us, especially after a rough start to the beginning of the season.”
Saturday’s game was a 4-3 loss for the Blugolds. Superior went up 2-0 in the first period before Eau Claire freshman Sam Knutson responded with a goal at 3:21 in the second period. Superior was able to score in the second period and again at the beginning of the final period to make the score 4-1.
The Blugold women rallied at the end of the final period and scored twice in the last two minutes of the game. Junior Katie Ward scored at 18:09 and McMullen scored again less than a minute later to bring Eau Claire within one, but Superior held on for the victory.
McMullen said the lack of consistency throughout the entire game cost the team in the end.
“We should have played the whole 60 minutes like we did on Friday,” she said.
Despite having a 34-16 shots on goal advantage over the Yellowjackets, the Blugold women had trouble converting those shots into goals.
Coach Collins said the team didn’t play nearly as well on Saturday as they did on Friday.
“We took some penalties that took us out of any rhythm, and we got away from our game plan,” Collins said.
Still, Collins said he has high hopes for the rest of the season.
“We’ve come a long way in a short period of time, and we’re playing very good at the right time of the year,” he said. “We’re getting ready for the playoffs.”
The team finishes the regular season this weekend with two home games against Finlandia University (Mich.).