Blugolds women’s hockey team defeated in WIAC championship

    The Blugolds fall to the Falcons in the WIAC title game in a nail-biting overtime contest

    More stories from Graham Rowe


    Photo by Kelsey Smith

    Head coach Eric Strand said that the women’s hockey team did a unbelievable job of playing a smart game.

    The Blugolds women’s hockey team made history today by playing in their first WIAC championship against UW-River Falls Saturday. The Blugolds fell short as River Falls took the win in overtime with a final score of 3-2.

    The teams played three other times this season, where the Blugolds took the win twice, but in the most recent game, on Feb.11, River Falls came out with the victory.

    At the start of this game, the Blugolds took the first goal on the power play where Mariah Czech got her sixth goal of the season off an assist from Claudia Gagnon to give Eau Claire the advantage.

    After the score, it was a defensive battle, as no goals were scored the rest of first or second period.

    Starting near the beginning of the third period at the 3-minute mark, River Falls found the back of the net for their first goal of the game and tying the teams up.

    The Blugolds retaliated later in the third period on the power play as Elizabeth Bauer took her seventh goal of the season to take the lead again with a score of 2-1. The assist was credited to Holly Turnbull.

    Near the end of the third period, the Falcons fought back, scoring at the 17:08 mark to send the game into overtime.

    The game lasted about eight minutes before River Falls scored the game-winning goal to give the Falcons the win.

    Senior forward, Claudia Gagnon, said the team had a lot of confidence going into the game because of their previous victories over the team. She said even though they lost in overtime, it was a good last game as a senior.

    “It was a good way to go out even though we didn’t get a bid to the national tournament, but overall, as hard as it was to be done, it was one of the best ways that I could have seen the season ending,” Gagnon said.

    Emma Silkey, another senior forward who will be leaving next year, had another perspective on how the game went.

    “It was the most intense games I have ever played in and the atmosphere was just amazing,” Silkey said.

    Silkey said she enjoyed the amount of positivity the players had on the bench. In addition, she said overall it was a great game and the teams played with a lot of heart.

    Head coach Eric Strand had similar thoughts about how the final game went.

    Strand said all in all he thought the team did a great job, and he is very happy with how the team did, even though the outcome was not what anyone wanted.

    “We did an unbelievable job of just playing a smart game,” Strand said, “We stuck with it, we stuck with our game plan and we didn’t panic.”

    Thinking back on the season, Strand said the team has had a lot of “firsts” such as their first time winning a playoff series, first time in the WIAC championship and first time coming close to advancing towards the NCAA tournament.

    “One of the mantras that we talked about was writing history, and this year shows a lot of it,” Strand said. “So the bar has been raised for next year.”

    With two seniors leaving next year, the team will now be more experienced in the coming season. These seniors, Emma Silkey and Claudia Gagnon, said they have high hopes for the underclassmen.
    “The last two years have just been a huge momentum turn. I hope that the underclassmen keep this going, keep this momentum going and never be satisfied,” Silkey said.