EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – Jaedyn Walz (Sr. – Woodbury, MN/East Ridge) recorded a hat trick as the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women's hockey team heads back to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Championship (presented by Culver's) game after defeating UW-Superior 7-2 on Saturday.
Walz scored one goal in the first period and two in the second to lead the second-seeded Blugolds to the semifinal win. Eau Claire will head to UW-River Falls next weekend for a re-match of last season's title game.
The Blugolds came out strong Saturday, scoring three goals in the opening period.
Emma Peterson (Fr. – Superior, WI) scored the first Blugold goal at 7:26 with assists from Lexi Wilson (Jr. – Eagan, MN) and Monica Sjodin (Jr. – Anoka, MN).
Walz added to the lead just over a minute later, taking advantage of an Eau Claire power play. Kelly Knetter (Jr. – Wausau, WI/West) and Mariah Czech (Sr. – Andover, MN) would earn assists on the goal.
Superior would cut the lead at the 14:24 mark but the Blugolds would add another goal with two minutes left in the first as Czech found the back of the net off a rebound.
Walz would extend the Blugold lead with her second goal of the day just two minutes into the second period and would earn the hat trick 12 minutes later.
Eau Claire wasn't done scoring yet, as Courtney Wittig (Jr. – Green Bay, WI/Bay Port) scored the sixth Blugold goal on a power play at 11:34 of the third period.
Superior responded with a goal of their own but Knetter would score with just four seconds remaining in the game to give the Blugolds the 7-2 win.
In goal, Erin Connolly (So. - Mequon, WI/Homestead) recorded 19 saves to earn her 16th win of the season. The Blugolds also held a commanding 52-21 advantage in shots for the game.
Eau Claire will take on UW-River Falls for the WIAC title for the second-straight season. A year ago, the Falcons claimed a 3-2 overtime win but in their last matchup on Feb. 17, the Blugolds won by a score of 3-0. The O'Brien Cup (Presented by Culver's) will take place on March 3. Follow the action on Blugold Game Day.