Overtime loss muddies WIAA playoff options for Western Wisconsin Stars
A win on Monday would have given the Western Wisconsin Stars a strong argument to get the sixth seed when the WIAA girls hockey sectional tournament bracket is finalized this Sunday.
Unfortunately, the Stars lost in overtime, 1-0 to Eau Claire, in a game played at the Somerset Ice Arena.
Eau Claire’s Katelyn Hunsley scored 3:31 into the overtime, the first goal after 54 minutes of near misses and close chances for both teams.
The Stars were trying to win the game for teammate Kaylin Gamache, who was injured with two minutes left in regulation. She was taken away by ambulance, but Stars coach Emily Dabrowski said later that Gamache didn’t suffer any broken bones in the neck injury.
The game was played at a hard back-and-forth pace, with both teams generating numerous scoring opportunities. Dabrowski said she saw things from her team that she hadn’t seen all season in terms of passing and attacking the net.
“We played very well, we passed amazingly,” Dabrowski said. “They proved that they should have won the game.”
Stars goalie Tina Montpetit fought off some big charges from the Eau Claire squad, making 34 saves.
“She had a fabulous game. She’s really putting forth some strength for us,” Dabrowski said.
The loss damages the Stars’ seeding chances. The Stars, Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls are the three likely occupants of the bottom three seeds in the sectional tournament bracket. The first criteria is head-to-head games. Because the Stars lost their only meeting with Chippewa Falls, it makes for a tough argument for the Stars coaches to get the sixth seed.
The Stars didn’t have any trouble scoring when they played at Viroqua last Friday. The Stars rolled up a 15-0 win against Viroqua, a feeble team that could only manage three shots on goal in the game.
Dabrowski said her players were empathetic toward Viroqua’s plight, doing their best to not run up the score. Playing against the less-skilled opponent gave the Stars the time to work on their passing skills and creating to create scoring plays.
“They did a fabulous job of that. They were really seeing the ice,” Dabrowski said.
This game also presented the opportunity to get the younger players on the ice for extended periods of time. Amber Ziegler and Peyton Parnell not only scored their first varsity goals, they both scored twice in the game.
Also scoring for the Stars in the win were Ashley Dusek (3), Bailey Erickson (2), Gamache (2), Meghan Wolner (1), Kaylee Bebeau (1), Brie Larkowski (1) and Gabby Kupke (1).
The Stars get the weekend off from games. They don’t play again until next Tuesday, when they skate at Black River Falls.