Women’s hockey falls twice to rival UW-River Falls

The UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team was swept by UW-River Falls, 2-0 and 6-0, in a WIAC home-and-home series over the weekend.

The Blugolds were shut-out by the Falcons, 2-0, on Friday evening at Hobbs Ice Center.

“They’re a very good team,” head coach Mike Collins said. “There is a reason why they’re ranked sixth in the country.”

Senior forward and team captain Nikki Kothenbeutel said the Blugolds haven’t beat the Falcons in the history of the two teams playing against each other.

“We’ve tied them a few times,” she said. “But we have yet to beat them, so that made for an exciting week of practice going into the weekend.”

The Falcons (3-3-0, 1-2-0 WIAC) found the net six minutes into the first period. The Blugolds (1-4-2, 0-2-1 WIAC) weren’t able to cut the deficit in the second period as neither team scored.

Late in the third the Falcons added another goal to put the game out of reach.

“I think the team competed hard,” said Collins. “But I think we need to put together a more complete 60-minute game. We started out kind of slow and got better as we went, but we have to start off at a higher level.”

Eau Claire took 24 shots and had eight power-play chances, while River Falls took 36 shots and were 1-for-4 on the power-play.

Junior goalie Paige Turner played all but 2:22 of the game and had 34 saves in goal for the Blugolds.

Turner said the team’s ultimate goal is to go to Nationals but first they have to win Conference.

“Our biggest strategy is we need to come out and play hard,” she said. “It’s hard to come off a loss, especially at your own home rink.”

River Falls 6, Eau Claire 0

At River Falls, Eau Claire suffered a second shut-out by the Falcons a night later on Nov. 23.

After struggling to get their offense going, the Blugolds (1-5-2, 0-3-1 WIAC) fell behind 2-0 in the first period and weren’t able to recover.

“We had a chance to score both nights,” Kothenbeutel said. “We just couldn’t find a way to get it in the net.”

Eau Claire took 12 shots and had four power-play chances, while the Falcons (4-3-0, 2-2-0 WIAC) took 44 shots and were 2-for-5 on the power-play.

Turner played 52:51 in goal and had 28 out of 33 saves for the Blugolds, while Kim Van Brunt finished the game and had ten out of 11.

Kothenbeutel said the team looks forward having another chance to play the Falcons this season.

“I think we’ve done some really good things, and I think we’ve learned some things we need to work on but it’s early in the season,” Kothenbeutel said. “We’re looking forward to making adjustments to what we’ve seen already and hopefully have a better outcome the next time we play them.”

The rivals will face each other again on Feb. 15 at River Falls and Feb. 22 at Eau Claire.

The Blugolds are back in WIAC action Friday, Dec. 6 when they travel to Stevens Point and will return home at 7 p.m. Saturday to take on the Pointers at Hobbs ice Center.