By Nick Hoven, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (blugolds.com) - The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women's hockey team made history on Friday night, defeating No. 2 UW-River Falls 3-1 to earn their 16th win, setting a program record for wins in a season.
The last meeting between the teams came back in November of 2016, where the Blugolds played a dominant first period and beat the Falcons 4-2.
The first period of Friday's game would see much of the same speed and determination. The first scoring chance of the period came with a slap-shot from the point that rang off the post from River Falls' Paige Johnson.
The Blugold fore-check was ready to go from the start and would end up resulting in a goal. Elizabeth Bauer (Fr.-Wausau, WI/East) would intercept a pass in the offensive zone and tried to find a number. Her pass would hit a Falcon skate and land in front of Kelly Knetter (So.-Wausau, WI/West) who didn't hesitate and would blast it right under the goalie's blocker. Despite trailing in shots and faceoffs, the Blugolds would retain the lead throughout the period.
It only took six minutes for the Blugolds to find their next tally. Emily Bauer (Fr.-Wausau, WI/East) would receive a stretch pass for a breakaway. After she collected the puck, Bauer would glide left and would put it through the legs of the goalie to give Eau Claire the two-goal lead.
In the third period, Eau Claire would strike early once again. Courtney Wittig (So.-Green Bay, WI/Bayport) would find the puck in front of the net off a rebound and would pound it home to put the Blugolds up by three. That would be Wittig's team-leading 16th goal of the season.
A late Falcon goal would make it 3-1, but the Blugold defense would shut them out the rest of the game to earn the win.
Goaltender Erin Connolly (Fr.-Mequon, WI/Homestead) was the defensive rock for Eau Claire. Not only did she deny the Falcons on 5 of 6 power-plays, but she also saved 25 of 26 shots.
The Blugolds and Falcons will play in the regular-season finale Saturday night in River Falls at 7:05 p.m.
Follow all the action this season on Blugold Game Day.