UW-River Falls advances to NCHA O'Brien Cup semifinals
RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- The Falcon women's hockey team beat UW-Eau Claire on Saturday afternoon at Hunt Arena, 3-0, to advance to the NCHA semifinals.
The Falcons will now host the semifinals and championship game next weekend at Hunt Arena. On Friday there are two semifinal games with the Falcons playing at 7:05 p.m. The other contest will be played at 3:05 p.m. Saturday's title game will be played at 4:05 p.m. The winner of the NCHA playoff championship earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
The Falcons, ranked No. 8 in this week's USCHO.com poll, started strong and led after the first period, 2-0. at 2:42 Emma Nordness scored an unassisted goal to give the Falcons the lead. She had the puck behind the net and came out front and beat the EC goalie high on the glove side. It was Nordness' seventh goal of the year and the goal came on UWRF's first shot of the game. The Falcons went ahead, 2-0, at 17:29 when Alyssa Jackson scored a power-play goal. Judy Daleiden took a shot from left point that Jackson redirected into the UWEC goal. It was her fifth goal of the year and Kait Mason also assisted on the play. The Falcons dominated play at times and finished with a 17-6 advantage in shots on goal. The Falcons took one minor penalty and UWEC was called for three minors.
There was no scoring in the second stanza, but again the Falcons had the better of the play. They outshot the Blugolds 12-3 in part thanks to two power-play opportunities. UWRF's best chance came about five minutes in when Mason came out of the corner, skated to the slot and let loose with a wrist shot that banged loudly off the cross bar.
In the third the Falcons scored an insurance goal at 5:46. Katie Batters scored, short-handed, to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead. She took a nice pass from Alice Cranston at center ice and broke in alone on the UWEC goal. She beat the goalie cleanly to pick up her team-best 18th goal of the year.
"It was a great win," said Falcon Coach Joe Cranston after the game. "We struggled some in the second period and Eau Claire came out and worked hard in the third. But it is nice to get two wins - without allowing a goal during the weekend. It will be great to have the O'Brien Cup tourney here next weekend."
Falcon goalie Melissa Deardorff recorded her second straight shutout and fifth of the season. She stopped all 21 shots she faced. UWEC goalie, Morgan Pieper, stopped 40 shots.
The Falcons, now 21-4-2 overall, finished with a 40-21 advantage in shots on goal for the game. Eau Claire, now 9-14-4, was called for seven minor penalties and UWRF six. The Falcons were 1-6 on the power play and EC was 0-5.