Fountain of youth

With a number of new faces this season, the UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team began with a clean slate. With that said, they had their first chance to strut their stuff with a double header against St. Scholastica (Minn.) this past Friday and Saturday.

Their first game Friday ended in a 2-2 tie. A rematch the following day ended in a 4-0 loss to the Saints.

With just under half of the team made up of freshmen, Eau Claire athletics director Scott Kilgallon said he thinks some additional time will help the young squad.

“After watching the ladies Friday and Saturday night, I do know they’ve got a very young team,” Kilgallon said. “They’re certainly going to have to get used to the level of play here on a collegiate level.”

Friday’s tie started with an early Eau Claire goal in the first period by junior Andi Husted 1:17 into gameplay. But St. Scholastica responded quickly with their own goal 11:15 in to even things up at one apiece.

The second period was much of the same. Eau Claire scored first with their second goal after 7:26 in by senior Nikki Kothenbeutel. But yet again, the Saints landed one of their own just four minutes later. Even with a third period and overtime to follow, the score stayed the same, ending the bout in a 2-2 tie. Head coach Mike Collins said he agreed age played a role this weekend.

“It’s a new team, our first time out,” he said. “We are very young with 10 freshmen and a good number of sophomores. Like I told the girls, I didn’t expect perfection. There would be things to work on as we go, but I thought the effort was great.”

Collins also said he thought goaltending played a large role

Friday night. Sophomore goalie Paige Turner had 43 saves in her first game against St. Scholastica this weekend. Collins said this would be pivotal as the season goes on.

“Like any coach will tell you in hockey, if you have solid goaltending, you have a chance to win every night,” Collins said. “She’s just a solid goaltender at this level and played very well and she kept us in the game with some big saves.”

Along with Turner’s success, freshman forward Sam Knutson said the aspects of the team need to be present as well for Eau Claire to have a good season.

“I don’t necessarily think we’re going to have one person that’s going to lead and do everything,” Knutson said. “I think everyone has a lot to put on the ice to help our team move forward and succeed.”

Knutson said once the Blugolds start finding their chemistry, they’ll begin to make a bigger impact in the WIAC conference. They face off against St. Catherine’s on the road Friday before playing them at home Saturday at 2 p.m.