Connolly, Blugolds’ Defense Buckling Down On The Blue Line

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Eau Claire (WQOW) — After their loss to Lake Forest on January 11th, the UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team has won six straight games, their longest winning-streak since the 2004-05 season.

During the streak, the Blugolds have outscored their opponents 25-6, and have simply been dominant on both ends of the ice. The offense has had 13 different players find the back of the net, while junior goaltender Erin Connolly and her defense are keeping the puck out. And with four games left in the regular season, UW-Eau Claire is getting red-hot at the right time.

“I think we’re hitting our stride here definitely, everyone’s kind of in their routines right now and doing the same thing every day,” says junior forward Elizabeth Bauer. “It’s definitely helpful just to know what we’re going to do everything’s pretty consistent.”

In the month of January the Blugolds are 7-2, including 2-0 at Hobbs Ice Arena.

“We’re on the upswing for sure. We’re kind of coming off a little bit of a scoring slump, so it’s always nice to score some goals again,” junior goalie Erin Connolly says. “I think that every single day we’re just working on getting better in practice, so I think every day we get a little bit better. I don’t know if we’re quite at our peak yet, but I think we’re close. I think we can just continue to play better hockey every single day.”

Connolly has been a brick-wall during the winning-streak. She’s been in net for all six of the Blugolds’ wins, stopping 100 of 106 shots for a .943 save percentage and 1.00 goals against average. The team’s motto defensively this season has been blocking shots and eating pucks, and the unit as a whole in playing on the same page.

“The more comfortable she (Erin) looks, the tougher she is to play against. So we’re very fortunate from that stand-point,” says head coach Erik Strand. “That gives everyone else the confidence to go out and play more aggressive in front of her. We stress all the time that we want to take away time and space regardless of where it’s at. So for our team right now, they know that Erin’s got her game on and if we do make a mistake, she’s going to be there to cover it up.”

“They’re making my job really easy. We’re not getting a lot of chances in front of the net, in front of our house,” Connolly says. “They’re just really focusing on barring down in the d-zone and getting on pucks as early as possible. So it’s making stopping the puck easy when all the shots are coming from the outside. So it’s really been nothing special, I’m just trying to keep calm and play my game.”

The Blugolds are back in action with a home-and-home series with UW-Stevens Point. UW-Eau Claire be on the road Friday night at 7 p.m., and then return home Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Collin Talbert

Collin Talbert

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