By Nick Hoven, UWEC Sports Information
DE PERE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire kicked off their 2019 season Friday as they traveled to De Pere, WI to take on the St. Norbert Green Knights in the first game of their doubleheader weekend series. With high spirits and a confident mindset from opening puck drop, Eau Claire would skate past St. Norbert to a 3-1 win.
With the game finding 14 total penalties between the two teams, it would be Eau Claire to capitalize first.
Bree Osborne (Jr. – West St. Paul/Cretin-Derham Hall) would tally the and season's first goal after a taking a shot from the point on a 5-on-3 powerplay. With plenty of traffic in front of the net, the Green Knights goalie had no time to locate the puck before it reached the back of the net. Head Coach Erik Strand praised his returning players for holding a high level of confidence on the bench and locker room from the time they stepped off the bus till the final whistle.
"I credit our returners for showing up and picking up where they left off last year," said Strand. "With little time to continuously review special teams' situations, they stepped up and set the tone early."
Just minutes later, Danielle Slominski (Fr. – Becker, MN/Princeton) would fire a sharp-angled shot on net that bounced off the goalie and landed right in the open. Emma Peterson (Jr. – Superior, WI) would slam home the big rebound for the game's second goal and her 11th of her career.
With momentum carrying into the 2nd period, the Blugolds would ignite their special teams play once again. Hanna Zavoral (Jr. – St. Paul, MN/Highland Park) would create time and space for herself to skate in and fist a shot top left corner over the Green Knights' goalie to record the second powerplay goal of the game. The Blugolds would continue the pressure the remainder of the game recording 25 total shots.
Goaltender Erin Connolly (Sr. – Mequon, WI/Homestead) stopped 12 of the 13 shots she faced to record her first win of the season and 51st as a Blugold. Coach Strand mentioned his appreciation for consistency.
"Erin has always kept her focus and her game to the top," said Strand. "It is that attitude you want in a returner, leader, and backbone to the team."
The Blugolds will return to Cornerstone Resch Olympic Pavilion Saturday afternoon to face the Green Knights in game two of their doubleheader weekend series. Puck drop is scheduled for 3 PM.