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Western Wisconsin Stars win twice in Black River Falls tournament

The return of Tina Montpetit as goaltender has made the Stars a threat to win each game.

Two wins and stellar all-around play from the Western Wisconsin Stars girls hockey team showed that the Stars plan to be a highly competitive team in the 2013-14 season.

The Stars, the co-op team based in New Richmond, won two of their three games in the Black River Falls tournament over the weekend. They also put in a hearty effort in their season opener, a 3-2 loss to the Chippewa Falls-Menomonie co-op last Tuesday.

The opener against CF-M was a close battle. The Stars have been in need of an offensive leader. Senior Bailey Erickson stepped up to score the Stars’ first goal and she’s been on fire ever since, scoring seven goals in the team’s first four games.

“She’s a very smart player and she sees the ice well,” said Stars coach Emily Dabrowski. “She has the ability to be a standout.”

Erickson’s goal against CF-M tied the game at 1-1 in the middle of the first period. The Stars cut the CF-M lead to 3-2 early in the second period when Emma Lepper scored off an assist from Shawnee Gremore.

From then on, it was a battle of goalkeepers. The Stars are a different team with senior Tina Montpetit back in goal. In her first game since her freshman season, which was ended by concussions, Montpetit stopped 21 of 24 shots.

“The girls played awesome,” Dabrowski said of the opener. “They walked away proud. They knew they skated hard.”

The one down performance of the week was the Stars’ opener in the Black River Falls on Friday. Facing the state-ranked Rock County team, based in Beloit, the Stars lost 3-2, but it was a game the coaches felt the Stars should have won.

“We’ll chalk it up to bus legs,” Dabrowski said.

Kaylin Gamache gave the Stars the lead with the only goal of the first period.

Rock County scored twice in the first three minutes of the second period. Erickson tied the game three minutes later, but Rock County scored the go-ahead goal at the 10:52 mark. The teams played a scoreless third period.

In the Stars’ second game on Friday, they bounced back to beat the Northern Edge team from Rhinelander 4-3. The Stars scored all four of their goals in the first period. Erickson opened the scoring at the 5:33 mark. Brie Larkowski notched her first varsity goal 50 seconds later. Erickson scored again at the 11:53 mark and Ashley Dusek raised the lead to 4-0 with her first goal of the season with 34 seconds left in the period.

The Northern Edge scored three times in the second period. Neither team could score in the third period.

On Saturday the Stars faced one of the newer girls programs in the state, from Waupaca. The Stars rolled past Waupaca 8-2.

Erickson scored the first two goals of the game and Gabby Kupke scored her first varsity goal to raise the Stars’ lead to 3-0.

The Stars scored three more goals in the second period to raise their lead to 6-1. Alli Wielinski, Larkowski and Meghan Wolner scored in the second period.

Erickson completed her hat trick 29 seconds into third period. Dusek scored the Stars’ final goal at the 11:16 mark.

Montpetit posted 18 saves to earn her second win of the weekend. She had 33 saves against Rhinelander.

The schedule will remain busy for the Stars. The Stars will play two games on Saturday in a tournament at Wisconsin Rapids. Their game schedule for Thursday against Superior has been postponed.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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