Blugolds finish regular season at UW-River Falls

UW-Eau Claire wins on senior night, then goes defeated against UW-River Falls the next day

Sam Johnson

More stories from Sam Johnson

The Tator
December 13, 2022

Photo by Owyn Peters

The Hobbs Ice Arena hosted the female hockey match between the Blugolds and the Falcons Friday night.

The Blugold’s women hockey team traded wins with UW-River Falls this weekend. After a 1-0 win during their senior night, UW-Eau Claire suffered a 3-1 loss in their final regular-season matchup. The Blugolds concluded the regular season with a 20-3-2 record.

Their first game of the weekend, at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Hobbs center, was a tight game throughout, with only one goal scored in total. Emma Peterson, third-year forward, scored the first and only goal of the game after more than 22 minutes of play. The remainder of the game consisted of UW-River Falls chasing the lead until the final buzzer sounded off.

UW-Eau Claire honored their seniors on Friday night, celebrating their years as Blugolds. The five graduating seniors were announced before the game and pictures and posters hung throughout Hobb’s arena in support of them.

For the duration of the game, the Blugolds and Falcons raced around the ice trading shots and saves.

Erin Connolly, the Blugold’s fourth-year goalie, saved 25 out of 25 shots to secure the shutout victory.

Connolly said her gameplan during Friday’s game was to stay calm and communicate with her teammates.

“I’m always focusing on the next shot and the next save. It helps with the nerves and allows me to stay ahead,” Connely said.

Between the game and the celebration of their seniors, Friday night was eventful for the Blugolds.

Erik Strand, head coach, said he expected their game at 2:05 PM on Saturday at UW-River Falls to be a challenging one.

This is obviously a huge, emotional night for us,” Strand said. “The turnaround into a 2 PM game tomorrow will be tough. We’re going to enjoy tonight for a bit, but Saturday’s definitely going to be tougher than today.”

Saturday’s game was a higher-scoring one. The Blugold’s initiated the scoring with Elizabeth Bauer, fourth-year forward, putting the puck in the back of the net 14 minutes into the game.

The Falcons answered 6 minutes into the second period, then scored the go-ahead goal just over halfway through the third. Finally, with under two minutes left, the Falcons put the game out of reach for the Blugolds with an empty-net goal.

Strand expressed his admiration for the UW-River Falls program.

“I have a lot of respect for that program,” Strand said. “They’ve got eight out of the top ten leading scorers in our conference for a reason. That’s a very dangerous team.”

The loss on Saturday was UW-Eau Claire’s first loss within Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. The Blugolds are ranked No. 1 in the WIAC and No. 3 in the nation for NCAA Division III women’s hockey. The Falcons are ranked No. 2 in the WIAC and No. 6 in the nation.

The Blugolds will conclude the season and play UW-Stevens Point on Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. and Feb. 29 at 2 p.m.. Both games will be played at the Hobbs center. If they win, they play the winner of UW-Superior versus UW-River Falls in the WIAC championship.

Johnson can be reached at [email protected]