Opponents may have been able to take advantage of the Western Wisconsin Stars’ inexperience in the opening two games of the girls hockey season, but the Stars don’t plan on that being the case long.
The Stars lost their first two games of the tournament held by the St. Croix Valley Fusion this week, but by the end of the week, the Stars were much more polished in earning their first win of the season.
The Stars opened the tournament by facing the Fusion last Wednesday. The edge in experience for the Fusion showed as they defeated the Stars, 4-1. The Stars were back in action on Friday, losing a close battle with Bay Area from Green Bay, 4-3.
The tournament ended on a much more favorable note for the Stars. They scored five goals in the first two periods to defeat Black River Falls on Saturday. All three games were played at the United Civic Center in Baldwin.
There are four seniors on the Stars’ roster, so the coaches are busily trying to work in young players around them to get them experience. The difference in experience showed against the Fusion. While the Stars held a 34-30 edge in shots, the Fusion had the better scoring chances.
“We made some really big mistakes that cost us,” said Stars coach Bob Huerta.
The only goal for the Stars came from junior Ellie Brice in the second period. Her score cut the Fusion’s lead to 2-1 and the Stars were hoping it would lead to a charge. Instead, another mistake of inexperience allowed the Fusion to score 24 seconds later.
With a one-day break for Thanksgiving, the Stars were back in action on Friday. The Stars started well, with Erin Huerta scoring a pair of goals to build a 2-0 lead. Bay Area came back to get the lead. The third Stars goal came from freshman Bryn Connors, her first goal at the varsity level.
“Bay Area will be a top 10 (state-ranked) team all season, sl will the Fusion,” Coach Huerta said.
Huerta said he expected the younger girls on the team to be quick learners and they proved him right. Connors scored the opening goal of Saturday’s game, but Black River Falls struck right back. From there, the Stars took off.
Lauren Gruber broke the tie, scoring her first varsity goal on a breakaway after receiving a lead pass from senior Bailey Williams. Brice scored the next two goals. Sophomore Alise Wiehl scored the final goal, batting home a power play rebound after an initial shot by Ally Dahlberg.
Senior Caitlyn Erickson started the first two games in goal for the Stars. After two periods of Friday’s game, the coaches inserted freshman Lauren Sobczak. She also started on Saturday, earning her first varsity win.
“She made a lot of good saves,” Coach Huerta said. “We have three great goaltenders. I can play any of them with confidence.”
The Stars play on back-to-back nights again this Thursday and Friday. They will host another of the area’s strong teams on Thursday, when Hudson visits the Somerset Ice Arena. The Stars will play at Medford on Friday.