The seemingly endless schedule of state-ranked opponents for the Western Wisconsin Stars continued on Monday when they skated at Eau Claire.
The local Stars have risen to the occasion time after time this season against the upper echelon opponents, but they couldn’t find the spark to battle evenly throughout the game. The first period was scoreless, but Eau Claire scored twice in the second period and three times in the third period to defeat Western Wisconsin’s girls’ hockey team, 5-1.
The Western Wisconsin squad will face another state-ranked foe on Thursday. They’ll be skating at River Falls in a 5 p.m. start against the St. Croix Valley Fusion. Eau Claire is ranked fourth in the girls hockey rankings this week and the Fusion is ranked sixth.
The Stars have prided themselves on being competitive with every team they’ve faced, even though it seems more than half of their games have been against state-ranked teams. The Stars are now 6-8-1 this season.
Coach Bob Huerta tried several shake-ups in attempts to find a spark within the team, but none of the maneuvers worked.
“It wasn’t our greatest performance,” Huerta said, adding that mishandling the puck and not maintaining defensive position were the two things that got the Stars into the most trouble.
“When we turned the puck over, it was in a bad situation and it put our goalies in a bad situation,” he said.
The Stars trailed 5-0 before scoring with 80 seconds left in the game. Ellie Brice, who ranks among the top 10 goal scorers in the state, netted the goal off an assist from Alise Wiehl.
“It was an unbelievable shot in the upper corner, just a rocket,” Huerta said. He said one of the best things from the game was the fact the Stars never gave up and battled right up to the final horn.
The Stars were outshot 40-19 in the game. Huerta said the Stars need to put more shots on goal. He said shots from the point need to be put on net to produce opportunities for rebounds, which weren’t available in Monday’s game.