A new system equals new results

After first conference win the Blugolds women’s hockey team looks to upset Pointers


Photo by Trent Tetzlaff

Freshman Sydney Schneider takes a faceoff versus UW-Superior last Friday night. Despite the 7-2 loss, the Blugolds have won four of their last six games.

Story by Trent Tetzlaff, Copy Editor

After a short time away from the ice over winter break, the Blugold women’s hockey team got back to business as usual, but in a different way than most expected.

After struggling through the first half of the season only managing one victory, head coach Mike Collins decided it was time to mix things up by changing up the systems the team runs on the ice.

“The new system we are using is called the trap,” Collins said. “We try and trap whoever has the puck into turning the puck over in the neutral zone which in return gets us better opportunities further up the ice to score.”

The trap, which is used in the neutral zone or the area in between the two blue lines on the center of the ice, is a system that has been used in the NHL and collegiately for years Collins said.

Senior Andi Husted said the system usually puts them behind in the shots category, but the shots they get are very high quality.

“The trap play doesn’t put us in position to be putting a ton of shots on goal, but it allows us to put just enough open shots on net to score along with our opponents,” Husted said.

Although the Blugolds haven’t had many games to showcase their new system, they have fared much better and have been able to confuse opponents, Collins said.

Since implementing the system, Eau Claire has gone 4-4 and notched their first conference win of the season against No.10 UW-Superior.

“The new system is something that the team really believes in,” Collins said. “It has allowed us to confuse other teams and forced them to make turnovers allowing us to get good shots.”

But for the Blugolds, the new system is not the only thing they have had to adapt to.

Collins said over the past few weeks the team has struggled to stay healthy and lost both senior forward Sam Knutson and junior goalie Paige Turner for multiple games due to injuries. Other teammates were bumped and bruised as well, which slowed them down.

But with the injuries come opportunities, and junior goalie Kim Van Brunt has made the most of them. She picked up her first win in net on the season, and was also named the WIAC player of the week as she saved 49 shots in the Blugolds win over the Yellowjackets.

As the final four weekends of the regular season approach for the Blugolds, they will only play one game a weekend as compared to the normal two game weekend series, which Husted believes should benefit them.

“I think having the extra day of practice is extremely important for us as we move on,” she said. “It allows us to get healthier and continue to improve our new system.”

Next on Eau Claire’s schedule is a rematch with the Pointers at Stevens Point, who the Blugolds were able to steal a tie from earlier this season.

Collins said that the Blugolds are taking a mental approach as they look at their upcoming game with the Pointers.

Over the week the team will make sure they are mentally are prepared for what is to come by not overthinking and staying confident.

Even though the Blugolds are taking the season game by game, Collins said the team’s goals and overall outlook remain good.

“With four games left, if we can beat each team once we will gain a ton of confidence,” He said. “Being that we are in the postseason regardless, we are now playing for an opportunity to host a playoff game.”