EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – For the second season in a row, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women's hockey team is headed to the NCAA Division III Women's Ice Hockey Championship.
The Blugolds defeated UW-River Falls 7-3 on Saturday to earn their second-straight O'Brien Cup, awarded to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Tournament Champion. Since the WIAC does not have enough teams for an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, Eau Claire had to wait until the selection show to see if they earned one of the at-large bids.
Not only did the Blugolds earn a spot, they received a bye and will face top-seeded the University of St. Thomas on Saturday in the Quarterfinals. St. Thomas earned an automatic bid after winning the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Championship with a 2-0 win over Hamline University on Saturday.
With a win, the Blugolds will advance to play the winner of the River Falls-Hamline matchup and would be one of four teams left in the nation. The Semifinal round will take place on March 15 with the Championship game taking place on March 16 with the site yet to be determined.
Last season, the Blugolds defeated the MIAC's Gustavus Adolphus College 3-2 in triple overtime in the NCAA First Round. Playing in the Quarterfinal round the following day, Eau Claire fell to Hamline 3-2 to end their run.
The Blugolds (21-5-2) have already set a new program record for wins in a season with the team setting the previous high (19) a year ago.