Women’s hockey opens season with 6-0 win

The Blugolds defeated the Saint Benedict Blazers in their first game of the season last Friday night

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The Blugolds took home the first victory of the season against Saint Benedict 6-0 Friday night in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

The UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team started their 2017-18 campaign strong by defeating Saint Benedict 6-0 on Friday night.

Eau Claire’s offense had a balanced attack, with 11 Blugolds earning points on the night.

Mariah Czech, a senior forward, tallied the first goal of the season on a power play 16 minutes into the game, getting assists from Jaedyn Walz, a senior forward, and Kelly Knetter, a junior forward.

“I think we played well,” Walz said. “Coach consistently talks about effort and work ethic and we brought that for the full 60 minutes. We dominated the offensive zone and had lots of scoring chances.”

Eau Claire took charge during the second period, recording three goals.

Emma Peterson, a first-year forward, contributed to one of the goals as she scored at 8:28 off an assist from Reilly Albert, a sophomore defensive player.

Elizabeth Bauer, a sophomore forward, took advantage of another power play, scoring at 13:28 with assists from Courtney Wittig, a junior forward, and sophomore Sami Meister, a sophomore defensive player.

Adding to the list of goals, Holly Turnbull, a junior defensive player, scored her first goal of the night at 19:05 on a power play, assisted by Bauer and Peterson, and added her second goal of the night at 13:40 in the third period off an assist from Meister.

“The game showed our strengths and also what we need to work on as a team,” Turnbull said. “We did not let up, and kept our dominance throughout the game, proving that we are a force to be reckoned with this season.”

Jennifer Thomsen, a senior forward, added goal number six just three minutes later thanks to assists from Albert and Lexi Wilson, a junior forward.

The Blugolds cruised to their 6-0 win as they out-shot the Blazers 47-13 and converted on three of four power plays. Blugold’s sophomore goalkeeper, Anna Veazey earned the win between the pipes, recording 13 saves.

Walz said although they finished strong in their first game, there is still always room for improvement.

“With being such a young team and having so many new freshman, we are still getting used to each other and learning all of our systems,” Walz said. “One of Coach Strand’s mottos is ‘we are never satisfied’ and we strongly abide by that.” 

Head Coach Erik Strand said the team’s expectation is to improve from last year and become better to set new standards. He said he is very excited about the entire team and that the first-year players passed their first test in the opening game of the season.

“The question is how much we can continue to grow and at what pace,” Strand said. “It is easier to grow right now on leaps and bounds because we are starting at the bottom. It becomes the integrate details of our system and how fast we can learn them. Those are the challenges the team will have to master in order to limit the mistakes.”

Overall, Turnbull said she has a good feeling about the team’s potential this season.

“We’ve seen what we can do and what we can achieve, and we have our underclassmen buying into our success and culture which is essential,” Turnbull said. “The only way you can expect to win is if you prepare to win. That is exactly what we are doing; we expect to be the best by practicing the best. We expect nothing less than what we believe we deserve.” 

The Blugolds will be back on the ice at 7 p.m. Thursday as they host Hamline University at Hobbs Ice Arena.