HUDSON, Wis.-- There’s no better way to snap a six-game losing streak than by beating the No. 1 ranked team in the state.
That’s what the Hudson girls’ hockey team did Tuesday night at Gornick Arena, scoring three goals in a one minute span midway through the third period and holding on for a 4-3 victory over the previously unbeaten Eau Claire Area Stars.
Hudson took a record of 2-8-1 into the game while Eau Claire came in at 11-0-1. The Raiders have played a brutal early-season schedule that has included four one-goal losses and six straight games without a win, but head coach Matt Szypura said the girls have continued to work hard.
“Yeah, with a tough schedule you kind of take your licks here and there but you try and find positives any way you can,” he said. “And we had a really good week of practice and it showed a little bit and we’re happy with the win.”
Eau Claire led 1-0 before Bailey Glasspoole knocked in a rebound midway through the second period to tie the score. But Eau Claire came right back with a power play goal to take a 2-1 lead after two.
Hudson tied it when Mallory Thompson scored off a scrum in front of the net 9 minutes, 56 seconds into the third. The applause had barely died down when Nikki Olund took the ensuing faceoff and beat Stars’ goalie Naomi Stow just 12 seconds later to put Hudson up 3-2.
Just 48 seconds after Olund’s goal, Thompson picked off a pass in the neutral zone and skated in on a breakaway before beating Stow high glove side to extend Hudson’s lead to 4-2 with just over six minutes remaining. Eau Claire pulled Stow for an extra skater and got a goal in the final minute but the Raiders held on for the 4-3 win.
Hudson had outplayed and out hustled Eau Claire through the first two periods but had just a goal to show for it before scoring three quick goals to steal the momentum in the third. Raider goalie Alayna Kunshier finished with 10 saves as Hudson outshot Eau Claire 22-13.
“I think we were just a bounce or two away from something going our way,” Szypura said. “We got a little outworked in the first period a little bit, but I thought we rallied and didn’t give up and kept it going. We know this team can pile up points if we let them.”
The Raiders and Stars have met in the last two sectional finals with Eau Claire advancing to state in 2018 and the Raiders winning the sectional title last year. Tuesday night’s win leaves the Raiders and Stars tied for second place in the Big Rivers Conference at 1-1 each, one game behind the 2-0 St. Croix Valley Fusion.
“This team is always tough,” Szypura said about the Stars. “It’s become a rivalry. We always meet in the section championship or the playoffs somewhere along the line, and it’s always tough, it’s always a battle; we know it always is so it’s just nice to get a victory.”
Szypura said he hopes Tuesday night’s win over Eau Claire can be a springboard for the Raiders.
“Confidence is huge, and that will keep going,” he said. “It’s just something to keep building on and keep going with.”
The Raiders continued their winning ways with a 4-1 victory over University School of Milwaukee Friday, Jan. 10, in Milwaukee. Olund, Hattie Carr, Taylor Wandschneider and Leah Parker scored a goal each while Carr, Parker, Thomspon and Morgan Miller each had an assist. Kunshier finished with 11 saves as Hudson outshot USM 40-12.
The Raiders will travel to Onalaska Saturday, Jan. 18 before a BRC showdown with conference leader St. Croix Valley at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, at River Falls Wildcat Centre.