Hockey: Raider girls tripped up by ECA
Many viewed the WIAA Section 1 title game between the top-ranked Hudson Raiders and No. 2 Eau Claire Area Stars Saturday, Feb. 24, at Gornick Arena as the de facto state championship game for girls hockey in Wisconsin.
If that's the case, the rest of the field at this weekend's state tournament better watch out for the Stars.
Eau Claire used a three-goal second period to break open a close game and defeat the Raiders, 6-1, in the rubber game between the two teams this season. Each team won one-goal games on their home ice during the regular season, which ended with the Raiders claiming the Big Rivers Conference crown. But Saturday the Stars played arguably their best game of the year to deny Hudson's quest to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2006.
Ava Kison and Abigail Stow scored first period goals to stake the Stars to a 2-0 first period lead before Lexie Nelson put Hudson on the board with a shot from the high slot with 23 seconds remaining on a Raider power play just 17 seconds into the second period. Anna Wilgren and Nikki Olund earned assists on the play.
That was all the scoring Hudson could muster, however, while Stow scored two more goals in the second period sandwiched around another tally by Kison, then added her fourth goal of the game late in the third period, to make the final 6-1.
The Raiders had the best first chance of the game but Sydney Hendricks was stopped by Stars freshman goalie Naomi Stow on a breakaway less than two minutes in.
Eau Claire led 1-0 when Wilgren rocketed a shot off the left post eight minutes into the game but Abigail Stow scored her first goal less than a minute later to give Eau Claire a 2-0 lead.
Hudson couldn't capitalize on a late second period power play that spilled over into the third and came up empty on another power play later in the period and by that time trailed 4-1. Raider goalie Cassie Schultz finished with 10 saves as Hudson outshot Eau Claire, 22-16.
The Raiders advanced to the sectional title game with a 4-3 victory over Hayward Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Gornick Arena on a power play goal by Nelson with 5:11 remaining.
Hudson took a 2-0 lead on first period goals by Olund and Wilgren but the Hurricanes answered with a pair of power play goals in the second period to tie it up. Wilgren's second goal of the game 4:11 into the third period put Hudson ahead 3-2, but Hayward answered just 42 seconds later to knot the score again.
A body checking penalty on Hayward at the 11:33 mark put the Raiders on the power play, and Nelson scored the game-winner from the high slot just 16 seconds later with assists going to Olund and Wilgren. Hudson finished with a 44-13 advantage in shots.
Hudson finished the regular season with a record of 23-3-0. Eau Claire, who defeated the third-ranked St. Croix Valley Fusion in the sectional semifinals, will take a record of 24-3-0 into their state quarterfinal game against the Central Wisconsin Storm (19-8) Friday, March 2. The Cap City Cougars (20-6-1) and Fond du Lac (19-8) will meet in the other semifinal.