Women’s hockey wins O’Brien Cup semifinals

    Blugolds beat the Yellowjackets in all four matchups of the season


    Photo by SUBMITTED

    UW-Eau Claire’s women’s hockey team won both their games against UW-Superior last week in the O’Brien Cup semifinals.

    UW-Eau Claire’s women’s hockey team won both their games against UW-Superior last week in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference O’Brien Cup semifinals.

    Just two weeks prior, on Feb. 24 and 26, the Blugolds earned two wins against UW-Superior in a two-game series, meaning the Blugolds beat the Yellowjackets in all four of their matches this season.

    Blugolds win first matchup

    For the first matchup, the UW-Superior Yellowjackets traveled to Hobbs Ice Arena to face the Blugolds on March 10.

    The Blugolds made their first goal in the first period. Then, the Yellowjackets tied the game in the second to make the score 1-1 — it was a slow first half, Erik Strand, head coach, said.

    “It’s a big shift from regular season to playoff season and so I think everyone just needed to get their feet underneath them a little bit,” Dani Slominski, a second-year defenseman, said.

    Once the Blugolds managed to get their feet beneath them, they jumped into action and played an aggressive third — scoring three goals and winning the game 4-1.

    “It’s always very fun to play some Blugold hockey and that’s what we got in the third,” Slominski said.

    The Blugolds had 39 shots on goal and Stephanie Martin, a third-year goalie, stopped 24 of the 25 shots she faced.

    “It wasn’t as convincing a win as I think we would’ve liked, but it still feels good obviously, to get that first win out of the way for playoffs,” Slominski said.

    Blugolds progress onto the O’Brien Cup finals

    The Blugolds hosted the Yellowjackets again on Mar. 12 for the second game of the semifinals.

    “We want to have a little bit more energy and a little bit more urgency earlier,” Strand said after Wednesday night’s game.

    He said they wanted to contour how they played the last 27 minutes of Wednesday night’s game — also saying they were not happy with how they played the first 33 minutes.

    Strand said the team’s focus for game two was on a better start, and it paid off because the Blugolds scored three goals in the first period while the Yellowjackets were only able to secure one.

    Emma Peterson, a fourth-year forward, scored the game’s first goal and the Yellowjackets answered a minute later.

    In this game the Blugolds were even quicker to respond to UW-Superior’s goal.

    Less than a minute after the tying goal, Delhi Heikes, a second-year forward, scored to give UW-Eau Claire its lead back.

    In the second period, Eden Gruber, a first-year forward, scored her first Blugold goal and Samantha Scherling, a second-year forward, scored twice.

    The Blugolds went into the third leading 6-2, but nevertheless, they kept their momentum up by scoring two more goals and winning the game 8-2.

    The Blugolds had 30 shots on goal and goalie Kylah Brause blocked 12 of the 14 goals UW-Superior attempted.

    The wins advance UW-Eau Claire into the O’Brien Cup finals in a best-of-three series against the UW-River Falls Falcons.

    The Blugolds compete against the Falcons in Game 1 of the O’Brien Cup finals at home on Mar. 15 and will travel to River Falls for Game 2 of the series Mar. 17.

    Steiler can be reached at [email protected].