Blugolds Fall to Falcons in First Game of NCHA Quarterfinals

RIVER FALLS, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The UW-Eau Claire women's hockey team came up just short of an upset in the first game of their NCHA quarterfinal matchup with UW-River Falls, falling 5-4.

The eighth-seeded Blugolds (9-13-4) were looking to get off to a strong start against the top-seeded Falcons (19-5-2) in the two game series. But it was the Falcons who started out strong with two goals in the first period.

Down 2-0 heading into the second period, the Blugolds cut it to 2-1 at 7:06 of the second period. Emily Larson (Jr.-Bemidji, Minn./Bemidji) scored a power-play goal to get the Blugolds on the board. But the Falcons answered back with two power-play goals of their own to go up 4-1.

At 14:03, it was Larson again, who scored another power-play goal to get the Blugolds within two going into the third period.

Just 1:11 into the third period, Emily Haluska (Sr.-Stevens Point, Wis./SPASH) scored an unassisted goal to get within one at 4-3. Twenty-nine seconds later, Nikki Kothenbeutel (Jr.-Sauk Rapids, Minn./Sauk Rapids-Rice) completed the comeback for the Blugolds on another unassisted goal at 1:30.

Unfortunately for the Blugolds, it was another power-play goal for the Falcons at 14:21 that proved to be the game-winner.

UW-Eau Claire pulled goalie Paige Turner (Fr.-Iron River, Wis./Duluth East) with just under a minute remaining, but they were unable to get the tying goal. Turner finished the game with 41 saves on 46 shots. The Falcons made a goalie change after the fourth Blugold goal, and the two goalies combined for 11 saves on 15 shots.

There were plenty of penalties for both teams and special teams played a large part in the final score. The Falcons were 4-for-6 on the power-play while the Blugolds were 2-for-6. The two teams will play again tomorrow afternoon at 2:05 p.m. again in River Falls.

The Blugolds need a win to force a mini-game, a loss or a tie would eliminate them from the tournament and the Falcons would advance to the semi-finals.

-JM-