The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Blugolds drop heartbreaker against UW-River Falls but sweep weekend series against Northland College

Wednesday night’s overtime loss marks Blugolds’ first loss in over a month
Blugolds celebrating a goal in earlier game this season against St. Benedict. Photo used with permission from Shane Opatz.

The Blugolds lost in overtime against the top-ranked UW-River Falls Falcons on Wednesday night by a final of 4-3 at Hunt Arena

They were able to quickly put the loss in the rearview mirror as they swept a weekend series with Northland College, winning both games by a final of 4-0 on Friday night and 7-1 on Saturday afternoon in Ashland. 

With the weekend sweep of Northland, the Blugolds improved to 19-5-0 for the season. Despite Wednesday’s overtime loss, the team is incredibly motivated to get another chance at the Falcons this Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Hobbs Ice Arena. 

The team in these conference rivalry games always feel the intensity level get turned up and second-year Ava Bullert commented on how playing a team like the Falcons give the team extra motivation to play at their highest level. 

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“Playing River Falls definitely motivates us to play at our highest level because we know we have to bring our best game against them,” Bullert said. “They are a very respectable team with a lot of skill and they bring the best out of us every game just like we bring the best out of them.” 

The Blugolds sparred back and forth with the Falcons all night, trading goals with each other five minutes apart to start the first period. 

Despite falling behind after two UW-River Falls goals in the second period, the Blugolds tied the game up at three in the third period courtesy of third-year Sadie Long’s seventh goal for the season. 

The game went into overtime as the score remained knotted up at three the rest of regulation. The Falcons scored the overtime winner 2:53 into overtime. 

Despite playing a competitive game against the Falcons, there are many adjustments that the team is going to be working on in practice in the upcoming week. 

“The main adjustment we will need to make is having a better start,” Bullert said. “As well as making them go 200 feet more often.” 

Despite Wednesday’s setback, the Blugolds came out swinging in their weekend series against Northland College. Friday night’s game against the Lumberjills was marked by a strong first period where the Blugolds netted three goals. 

The scoring got started by Long, with first-year Madisyn Krumholz redirecting a shot from fourth-year Hattie Verstegen four minutes later into the back of the net. 

The Blugolds never looked back from here as first-year Kylie Wiltse and fourth-year Sophie Rausch tallied goals. 

The leadership of Long and Rausch on and off the ice has been palpable in helping the team down the stretch heading into conference tournament play and the NCAA tournament. 

“Sophie has the experience and the wisdom to know what it takes to make a run in the NCAA tournament,” Bullert said. “Sadie really brings us all together. She is honest about the team’s needs and brings a lot of competitiveness as well as good energy daily.” 

The Blugolds’ strength this season has come in their defensive play, especially the play of first-year goaltender Alexa Backmann. She notched her fourth shutout of the season on Friday night, stopping all 19 shots she faced from the Lumberjills. 

Something that Bullert noted is how the defensive intensity of the team will help give them better chances in the offensive zone. 

“We keep the defensive intensity up because we know our zone needs to be protected first before we can get things done in the offensive zone,” Bullert said. “We take a lot of pride in our d-zone because we know when we are crisp there, it usually leads to good things in the o-zone.” 

The Blugolds continued their success into Saturday afternoon’s game as they won the game 7-1, courtesy of five goals in the second period. The Blugolds scored four of their seven goals on the power play. 

The scoring got started six minutes into the second period courtesy of fourth-year Eden Gruber netting a goal on the power play. Twenty seconds later, the Blugolds scored once again courtesy of second-year Kiera Bolt with an assist from Long. 

Long continued her exceptional afternoon, scoring two power-play goals late in the second period with assists coming from Bullert and Rausch. The Bullert-Rausch combination assisted on the final goal for the afternoon for the Blugolds scored by fourth-year Sydney Johnson. 

The Blugolds wrap up their regular season schedule on Saturday, Feb. 17 against UW-River Falls at 2 p.m. at Hobbs Ice Arena

Mikalofsky can be reached at [email protected].

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