UWEC women’s hockey wins two at home, moves on to championship game

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    Photo by Kyle Sipprell

    Women’s hockey sweeps Stevens Point in semi-final round of WIAC tournament.

    The UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team bagged two more wins at home this weekend versus UW-Stevens Point for the WIAC semifinals. They’re looking to avenge their championship loss last year against UW-River Falls.

    The Blugolds came out strong with a 5-1 win Friday afternoon with a dominating performance, outshooting the Pointers 51-16. Saturday, they came to finish the job, winning 4-1 and advancing to the WIAC championship for the third year in a row.

    The team came to set the tone in game one, with Ella Lerino, a first-year forward, scoring on the team’s third shot on net three minutes in. Keeping the momentum going, Courtney Witting, a fourth-year forward, scored her 24th goal for the team six minutes later. Before the end of the first period, Monica Sjodin, a fourth-year defender, put another one in, assisted by Lexi Wilson, a fourth-year forward.

    The second period came with 8 combined penalties. UW-Stevens Point was able to capitalize on the penalties, scoring the one and only goal of the period during a power play.

    The Blugolds wrapped up the game in the third with Elizabeth Baver, a third-year forward, putting two in, sealing the win 5-1 against Stevens Point.

    The team looked to finish off Point in the second game Saturday.

    The Blugolds found themselves trailing at the end of the first period, with a finish from Point capitalizing on a power play.

    The team looked to turn it around in the second, dominating right out the gate. It was a rare sight to see Stevens Point on the offensive end, allowing no shots on goal for the Pointers and 33 for the Blugolds.

    Ellie Burris, a second-year forward, opened the gates for them, scoring four minutes into the second, starting their momentum. Two minutes later, Erin Goodell, a fourth-year forward, assisted Wilson for the lead. The Blugolds refused to let up, spending most of the time in the Pointers defensive end. Four minutes from the end of the period Keli Pritzlaff, a third-year forward, put another one through.

    The third period was a bit more even for the teams, but Eau Claire still had the upper hand. The Blugolds out-shot the Pointers 13-8 and put one more through an open net near the end by Hanna Zavoral, a second-year forward.

    The Blugolds look to rematch UW-River Falls away at the WIAC championship on March 2.

    The Blugolds aren’t letting their nerves get to them and are excited more than anything for their rematch on Saturday, Burris said.

    “There’s always some tension between us,” Burris said. “Our schools are huge rivals. We both know we have the skills to win, it all depends on who makes the mistakes and who comes out on top.” Burris said.

    Coach Erik Strand is focused on keeping their cool and going into next week’s game like any other Blugold match.

    “I don’t think there’s any nerves going,” Strand said. “One of the things we talk about all season long is that this next 60 minutes is no different than any other game. Nothing changes, we try to prepare every game the same. We’ve got a perennial powerhouse, the last time we played them they’ve been NCAA quality games.”

    Sipprell can be reached at [email protected].