Women’s hockey drops series to Falcons

Rival River Falls proves to be too much for struggling Blugolds

Story by Trent Tetzlaff, Copy Editor

Checking isn’t allowed in women’s hockey, but that didn’t mean this weekend’s series between UW-River Falls and UW-Eau Claire wasn’t physical.

On Friday night in River falls, Eau Claire ran into a Falcon squad firing on all cylinders on offense and defense, scoring a season-high seven goals en route to to a 7-1 victory over the Blugolds.

Eau Claire struggled in all phases, especially on the offensive side of things, where they were only able to get 10 shots on goal compared to the Falcons 54.

Despite the results Friday afternoon, the Blugolds came home Saturday afternoon to face the same robust No. 6 ranked Falcon team they saw Friday, but junior goalie Paige Turner said they  just knew they could not allow a similar result.

“We knew if we came into the game Saturday ready to put forth a better effort we would be able to show we can play with a nationally ranked opponent,” Turner said.

The Blugolds and Falcons both came out aggressively the moment the puck dropped for the second night in a row, showing physicality through small scrums after the whistle was blown and through checking opponents while fighting for the puck.

River Falls was able to set the tone early once again Saturday with a score off of an Eau Claire turnover 1:31 into the 1st period. But despite sniping shots at Turner all game, the Falcons only led 1-0 midway through the second period.

“I faced 88 shots over the weekend in goal but I have grown used to the work load and actually enjoy being busy,” Turner said. “Having more shots just allows me to be more aware and alert to help my teammates out.”

The Falcon pressure around the net proved too strong once again as they scored 13:50 into the second period on a powerplay and again five minutes later putting in what most thought would be the dagger.

But the Blugolds were far from done, coming out with a vengeance in the third period despite being down three goals head coach Mike Collins said.

Just 1:33 into the period, sophomore Claudia Gagnon scored on a powerplay as the Blugolds showed patience and strong passing in the offensive zone, and with only four minutes left junior Ashley Baugher put in goal number two, awakening the rather small Eau Claire crowd.

“I just felt we were able to take advantage of our opportunities better tonight, especially on power plays,” Collins said. “By the third we had just become amped up which allowed us to work our way back into it.”

However, the physicality of the visiting falcons proved too strong as the Blugolds couldn’t get the puck into the offensive zone in the remaining minutes, falling to River falls for the second night in a row 3-2.

“Character and resilience are extremely important in hockey,” Collins said. “We know Friday wasn’t a great outing for us, but being able to work back into the game tonight showed a lot to me.”

The Blugolds are now 0-8-0 on the season and will look to turn things around Tuesday night as they will travel to Hamline University (Minn.).