The UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team is filled with a roster of athletes that put forth their contribution each and every game in their own unique way, head coach Mike Collins said.
This will need to continue over the weekend and for weeks to come for the Blugolds, who came off a 4-1 loss to UW-Stevens Point. Junior defender Julia Osowski was lost for the season after badly breaking her wrist in a collision behind the net, Collins said.
“The injury to Julia was early on in the game and in sorts hurt our chances the rest of the way, because of the effect it had on the team,” he said.
The Blugolds have had multiple small injuries over the past few weeks, and larger injuries to senior Sam Knutson and junior goalie Paige Turner which has turned over the rotation, senior Andi Husted said.
However, she said the game plan won’t change too much for the Blugolds, even with the injuries.
Collins said the recent injuries have cut their team down to 13 skaters and three goalies, but if anything the depth issue just opens up an opportunity for the next person in the rotation.
“The only change I see in our plan is having our skaters conserve as much energy as they can while still playing hard,” Collins said. “Along with this, injuries also make us mix up the rotation giving other players a big shot to step up for us.”
Husted said when it comes to the rematch at home Saturday with Stevens Point, it gives them an opportunity to prove the Pointers wrong about what kind of a team they are.
“I would say that out of our conference we are the most evenly matched two teams, and with some tweaking over the week we can really surprise Stevens Point,” Husted said.
But for the Blugolds, the biggest question coming into this weekend’s matchup is who will be in goal.
Over the past few weekends, junior Kim Van Brunt has taken over the position in net due to Turner’s injury, but has performed well enough to keep the spot in her possession despite Turner being healthy once again.
“We evaluate our goaltenders on their week of practice, their health and who gives us the best opportunity to win,” Collins said. “As the week goes on we will make the decision, but it’s too early to tell right now.”
Despite the thin roster going into Friday night’s game, Husted believes the Blugolds can stick with the Pointers if they continue to execute their systems in game situations and make smart decisions.
“Stevens Point is a team we match up with well and we can compete with no matter what,” Husted said. “It’s just a matter of us staying out of the penalty box so we don’t give them easy opportunities.”
The Blugolds will be in action at 7:00 p.m. Friday night in a rematch against Stevens Point on senior night at Hobbs Ice Center.