Eau Claire (WQOW) — The UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team won a record 19 games a season ago, along with the program’s first ever O’Brien Cup. And with the experience the Blugolds return this season on both ends of the ice, they are hungry for more.
The expectations are very high, especially on the defensive end of the ice. The blue-line is experienced with senior captain Holly Turnbull returning, along junior all-conference goaltender Erin Connolly. She’s been a wall the first month of the season, only allowing 1.98 goals/game with a .914 save percentage. For the Blugolds, it’s Connolly and her teammates in front of her with an all-around group effort.
“She keeps us in a lot of games, she works so hard, and she’s definitely the point of our defense,” says junior forward Elizabeth Bauer. “Our defense I think has just gotten stronger as we’ve continued, so it’s really been nice to see them improve too. And coach always says a “rubber diet,” so that’s our new thing, just block shots and eat the puck I guess.”
“Blocking shots is his big thing this year, he loves blocking shots,” senior forward Courtney Wittig added. “When doing that, there’s less scoring chances for the other team and we also hope to breakout the puck too.”
The Blugolds are 5-2-1 overall so far this season, and 1-1 in the WIAC. With the offense scoring nearly four goals a game, head coach Erik Strand likes how his defense isn’t satisfied and keeps competing.
“What I’ve liked is we’re not happy that we’re just under two goals. That group as a whole, they want to be less than that,” Strand says. “So that’s the part that I like, is how hungry they are, how unsatisfied they are with how many goals a game they are giving up right now, quite frankly they’re a little upset about it. So I love that they compete, and that grit that this group is showing.”
UW-Eau Claire returns to the ice this weekend at Hobbs Ice Arena. They’ll host St. Norbert at 2 P.M on both Friday and Saturday.