Blugold hockey begins a new season

UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team looks to returners to set the tone for the season

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Kaitlyn Zenner

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Blugold hockey begins a new season

Last season, the Blugolds lost to the University of St. Thomas 4-3 in the NCAA quarterfinals.

Last season, the Blugolds lost to the University of St. Thomas 4-3 in the NCAA quarterfinals.

Photo by SUBMITTED

Last season, the Blugolds lost to the University of St. Thomas 4-3 in the NCAA quarterfinals.

Photo by SUBMITTED

Photo by SUBMITTED

Last season, the Blugolds lost to the University of St. Thomas 4-3 in the NCAA quarterfinals.

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The UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team is back on the ice preparing for a new season. The team held their first practice on Monday Oct. 16 and with 12 returning players, Erik Strand — the UW-Eau Claire hockey coach — said there are many new players trying out for the team.  

“The first practice was good,” Strand said. “It was a typical first day. Especially with a lot of incoming players, there’s definitely been some nerves out there. But compared to previous first days, it’s been very similar to what we’ve experienced, which has been a good thing.” 

With a roster that will be filled with more new players than returning players, Strand said the returners will face responsibility in setting the example for new players. 

“A little over 50 percent of our roster is brand new, so we graduated quite a bit of experience, and it was a group that had a lot of success,” Strand said. “It’s going to be up to the returners now to basically teach the way to our new players.” 

Emily Bauer, a fourth-year forward, also said she thought one of the weaknesses the team will have is the fact that they have many new faces on the ice, though she said having many talented players would serve as an advantage. 

“I think one of our strengths will be our depth. We have a big team and lots of people to step up when we need to,” Emily Bauer said. “And I also think the mindset we have going into the season of knowing what we are capable of doing and being committed to doing whatever it takes to get there.”

Last season, the Blugolds made it to the NCAA tournament, losing in the quarterfinals to the University of St. Thomas with a final score of 4-3. While Strand said he would be thrilled if the team reached that point this season, he also said they had a long way to go in terms of learning and improving their game. 

“With such a dramatically different team this year, if you tell me we have the same kind of season this year as we did last year, I would be ecstatic,” Strand said. 

Looking to the season ahead, Elizabeth Bauer — a fourth-year forward — said she thought having a young team would pose a challenge, but she is looking forward to seeing how they measure up against the University of St. Thomas this year. 

“I am most looking forward to the Lake Forest tournament we are playing in against Elmira and St. Thomas,” Elizabeth Bauer said. “Both should be good opponents and it should be a fun weekend overall. It will be nice to see how we stack up at that point in the season.”

Despite the challenges of having a more inexperienced team, Strand said their talent might catch others by surprise.  

“The potential is there. The question is how fast can we learn and how fast can we teach,” Strand said. “The faster we get everyone up to speed, we could be a sleeper of a team that nobody’s really expecting this year simply because of how young we are.” 

Zenner can be reached at [email protected].

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