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

    River Falls halts Blugolds in quarterfinals

    While the U.S. men’s and women’s ice hockey teams faced tough opponents during the Olympics this past weekend, the UW-Eau Claire women’s ice hockey team traveled to River Falls to battle the UW-River Fall Falcons in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association quarterfinals.

    On Friday, the Falcons proved to be a tough team to beat. With little action coming from the Blugolds in the first period, the Falcons led the first and second periods with a goal in each.

    Despite the deficit, All-NCHA first teamers senior Beth Dittrich and junior Kristin Faber put Eau Claire in the game with a goal scored by Dittrich and the assist from Faber early in the third period. The Falcons answered with another goal, but sophomore Jackie McKay scored with an assist from junior Rita Simones just over a minute later.

    In the end, River Falls outshot Eau Claire 17-6 in the third and 38-20 for the game, and they won the first game 3-2. Junior Danika Porter played between the pipes and saved 35 shots, while only allowing three goals.

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    “Playing River Falls is always the more fun games of the season because it was exciting to play them again because of the rivalry,” Dittrich said. “We couldn’t host (the quarterfinals) because we lost to Superior. The outcome is unfortunate, but they are a very good team.”

    With a trip to the NCHA Semifinals on the line, Eau Claire once again faced River Falls in the afternoon on Saturday. The Blugolds scored at 4:12 in the first to start the game. Senior Shannon Nelson scored without assistance.

    The Blugolds held their lead through the first and second periods, but the Falcons scored three unanswered goals in the third. The Lady Blugolds shot 22 times – the most in the last four games – but River Falls outshot Eau Claire with 33 shots of their own on Saturday.

    “We had been doing great in the defensive zone, but we had a couple of breakdowns, and they capitalized on that opportunity,” Faber said.

    Porter recorded both losses this weekend and picked up a combination of 65 saves. She finishes with a .904 save percentage and a 2.72 goals-against average on the season.

    Dittrich and Nelson both ended their careers in collegiate ice hockey with Eau Claire in River Falls on Saturday. Nelson’s goal in the second game was her third of the year and her ninth in her collegiate career.

    Dittrich finished second on the team’s all-time scoring list with 76 points, first with 12 game-winning goals in her career and tied for first with 44 career assists, and she also set a single-season school record for most assists with 17 in the 2009-2010 season.

    Coach Mike Collins said both Nelson and Dittrich have a huge impact on the camaraderie of the team, but losing players due to graduation is all part of the process. Collins said he started recruiting in June of last year, and a number of girls are interested in playing for Eau Claire next year.

    Next fall, Dittrich said she will be student teaching but she plans on coming back to watch her teammates next season.

    Faber said she plans on taking a few weeks off from hockey and then jumping right into post season training.

    “We have a lot of people returning next season,” Faber said. “The two seniors we’re losing are a huge part of our team, and we’re definitely going to miss them, but we have a lot of young, talented players coming back. I think we will be able to improve on this year.”

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    River Falls halts Blugolds in quarterfinals