The Blugolds scored three times in an 11-minute span in the second period Wednesday, propelling the squad to a 3-0 road win against UW-River Falls in Game 2 of the WIAC Tournament championship. The victory evened the series at a game apiece, forcing a deciding contest Friday night at Hobbs Ice Arena in Eau Claire.
On the line is the O’Brien Cup, which the Falcons won last season and the Blugolds claimed the two years prior.
Taylar Meier opened the scoring with 14:21 remaining in the middle frame, burying a rebound off a point shot from Hattie Verstegen. That proved to be the game-winner, fittingly coming from a River Falls native.
Emma Peterson added a cushion with 8:25 on the clock with a highlight-reel goal, deking past a defender after entering the zone from the left side before sending a laser across the net and to the top right corner.
Giving the Blugolds a commanding three-goal lead was another rebound, this time onto the stick of Emily Hart with 5:17 remaining in the second. Peterson was stopped on a breakaway chance created by a lengthy entry pass, but Hart was in good position to follow up and beat UW-River Falls goalie Jordan O’Connor.
UW-Eau Claire goalie Stephanie Martin made 37 saves in the shutout effort, helping the Blugolds overcome a 37-21 shot disparity. The shutout was her second of the season. Eleven blocked shots from UW-Eau Claire also helped on that end of the ice.
Opening faceoff Friday night is set for 7 p.m. The matchup will also decide the season series between these two rivals, who have both beaten the other twice. UW-River Falls won Game 1 of the championship series Monday in overtime on a goal from Callie Hoff.
The Blugolds, who entered the WIAC Tournament as the top seed, are gunning for their third WIAC Tournament title in program history.
UW-Eau Claire 3, UW-River Falls 0
UWEC 0 3 0 — 3
UWRF 0 0 0 — 0
Second period: 1, UW-Eau Claire, Taylar Meier (Hattie Verstegen), 5:39; 2, UW-Eau Claire, Emma Peterson (Samantha Scherling), 11:35; 3, UW-Eau Claire, Emily Hart (Peterson), 14:43.
Shots on goal: UW-Eau Claire 6-9-6—21; UW-River Falls 11-14-12—37. Penalties: UW-Eau Claire 3 for 6 mins; UW-River Falls 1 for 2 mins. Goalies: UW-Eau Claire: Stephanie Martin (37 shots, 37 saves); UW-River Falls: Jordan O’Connor (21 shots, 18 saves).