Women’s hockey conquers UW-River Falls in final regular season game

    The Blugolds defeated the Falcons 3-0 to earn the No. 2 seed going into the WIAC

    More stories from Madeline Peterson


    Photo by Kar Wei Chang

    The Blugolds will be entering the WIAC playoffs seeded at No. 2 after a victory against UW-River Falls.

    The UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team will enter the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) playoffs in the No. 2 seed after defeating UW-River Falls in last Saturday’s home game.

    After tying with the Falcons the previous week, the Blugolds needed a win or a tie to earn the No. 2 spot going into the conference championship tournament. Head coach Erik Strand maintains that the team did nothing different in their preparations leading up to the final regular season game.

    “We always prepare for us,” Strand said. “… It doesn’t matter who’s going to line up on the blue line against us. We’ve got our system and our style and we need to take comfort in that. We always want (the other team) to be the ones adjusting.”

    After winning the initial faceoff, Eau Claire went on to score early in the first period. The goal — which was scored at 17:28 by Jen Thomsen, a senior forward — was the first point earned by the Blugolds.

    Despite River Falls’ 11 shots taken, Eau Claire managed to fend them off in the second period and score another goal made by Sami Meister, a second-year defenseman, at the 8:42 mark.

    Erin Connolly, a second-year goalie successfully blocked all 24 of the shots made by River Falls throughout the game. The Blugolds topped off the victory with a third goal scored by Courtney Wittig, a second-year forward, and assisted by junior defenseman Holly Turnbull in the third period.

    Strand considers the successful game an example of the team’s work ethic.

    “The team gave what they had, stuck in the system,” Strand said.  “… They play for each other first.”

    Aside from being the last game in their regular season, it was also senior day for the Blugolds. Senior forward Jaedyn Walz spoke highly of the effort made by the team as they took on River Falls.

    “If you look at our bench, we’re all going nuts … everyone did a good job making the extra effort on every single play,” Walz said.

    Strand was also complimentary of the team’s cohesiveness and adherence to the strategies developed in practice.

    “There’s always stuff you can work on, but it was really a nice, hard win,” Strand said.

    The Blugolds first WIAC playoff opponent will be UW-Superior, a team they have been unable to beat so far this season. In anticipation of the upcoming game, the team will continue to do what they do best: practice.

    “Our motto is every game, we prepare like it’s a national championship,” Walz said. “We’re just going to continue to work hard and play in systems. (The seniors) only have a few more games so we have to make it count.”

    The game against UW-Superior will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Hobbs Ice Arena. Although UW-Superior is ranked behind the Blugolds at No. 3 in the WIAC conference, Strand said the team will continue to keep up the hard work.

    “Everything going forward has to be earned,” Strand said. “That’s the exciting thing about the playoffs.”