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UWRF women’s hockey sweeps UW-Eau Claire Blugolds

December 3, 2015

The UW-River Falls women’s hockey team got back on track against the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds, sweeping the weekend series with a 4-1 win on Friday, Nov. 20, and another 3-1 victory the following day.

The Saturday matchup with the Blugolds is where the Falcons really showed their strength, staying consistent throughout to register the 3-1 lead. Senior Chloe Kinsel got off to an incredible start, scoring a goal only three minutes into the first period. It didn’t come as too much of a surprise, as the goal was Kinsel’s ninth of the season in only eight games.

“We set the pace right away in both games and really took it to them. We were out battled on stick battles on Friday, but took that advantage away on Saturday and played very well against a disciplined team,” Head Coach Joe Cranston said.

The scoring slowed down from there, as the Falcons gained a huge control on shots on goal but couldn’t capitalize on a few solid opportunities. The eighth ranked Falcons dominated 14-3 on shots on goal in the first period alone.

But Eau Claire wasn’t going to go down easily after being blown out 4-1 the night before on their home ice. The Blugolds became a lot more aggressive late in the first period and pushed the Falcons all throughout the second period. They outshot UWRF 9-7 in the second period and looked to be taking the momentum of the game. But with only 1.5 seconds left in the second period, sophomore Carly Moran put a shot past Blugold goalie Kim Van Brunt to put the Falcons up 2-1 and control all momentum going into the second intermission.

After a controversial call over a Blugold goal that was waved off for interference, Eau Claire responded quickly with junior Page Dale scoring a goal seven minutes into the third period to pressure the Falcons to hold on to the lead. The next few minutes picked up significantly in pace, with both teams failing on power play opportunities. Both teams couldn’t convert on the afternoon, with UWRF going 0-5 on power plays and UW-Eau Claire posting a 0-4 stat line.

The Falcons put the game away late in the third period, when Jessie Anderson set up Jillayne Gilbert for her second goal of the year to extend the lead to 3-1 with only five minutes left in the third period.

Cranston was excited about the big win on Saturday, but also saw a specific area of improvement for his young team.

“I was impressed to see how we moved our feet on Saturday and how it was the first time all season we wore a team down. Our biggest thing is getting in shape even though everybody’s a little tired right now,” said Cranston.

With the two victories over Eau Claire in conference and a non-conference victory over St. Olaf this past week, the eighth in the nation Falcons move to 6-2 on the season. They’ve won their last four games by a combined score of 17-4, and are now on top of the conference at 3-1 in WIAC play.

“Last year we lost two of our first five games, so we knew not to panic too much about the early losses. This is a young team that’s just starting to get their legs under them, but they’re already proving to be a tough team to beat,” Cranston said.

On the men’s side, the Falcons dropped their third straight close game, this time to the Milwaukee School of Engineering 1-2.

UWRF struck first in the game, with junior Mitch Kontny scoring a goal only five minutes into the contest to put the Falcons up 1-0. But it wouldn’t last for long, with MSOE striking back only a minute later to tie up the score on a Cole Larson goal to make it 1-1 in the first period.

MSOE went up for good early in the second period, when Christian Elsborg set up Brendan Unser for the go ahead goal late in the second period. It would be a fierce battle throughout the rest of the contest, but the Raiders ended up on top 2-1. The stat line didn’t mirror the final result, with the Falcons edging the Raiders 25-20 on shots on goal.

The loss dropped the Falcons to 3-4-1 on the season, after three straight losses by one goal apiece. UWRF now heads into conference play with a lot to prove after high expectations to begin the season. The Falcons next host the UW-Stevens Point Pointers on Friday, Dec. 4, at Hunt Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.