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Stars shut down a pair of opponents

Western Wisconsin Stars senior goaltender Catherine Magler makes one of her three saves in the Stars' 6-0 win over Northern Edge on Saturday. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

With approximately a month left in the regular season, the Western Wisconsin Stars are looking at areas they need to strengthen before the WIAA playoffs begin.

Defense is the area that stands out most to Stars coach Bob Huerta and the Stars showed over the weekend that they're already improving in that area. The Stars posted a pair of home-ice shutouts, beating Viroqua 4-0 on Friday, Jan. 5 and Northern Edge of Rhinelander 6-0 on Saturday, Jan. 6. The two wins raise the Stars' season record to 7-5-1.

Huerta said the team is getting stronger on defense and he's let the team know that's an area that's going to be a continuing emphasis. In the Stars' last eight games, they've allowed 17 goals, and eight of those came in an 8-2 loss to Eau Claire. In the other seven games, the Stars have given up nine goals. That comes after the Stars allowed 18 goals in the first four games of their season.

The team is in position to have a strong defense. They have three capable goaltenders, led by senior Catherine Magler. She got the start in Saturday's game, working the first period. When the coaches saw the game was in control, they let freshman Maezee Enger handle the final two periods. Junior Caitlyn Erickson was between the pipes on Friday, stopping all 12 shots she faced to get the shutout.

The coaches have decided upon two defensive pairings that they are building around. Bailey Williams and Ally Dahlberg are one of the defensive tandems, with Kayla Huerta and Mykenzie Patten as the other. Coach Huerta said they are working Josie Carlson into the defensive rotation to get some rest for the top four defensemen.

The defensive pairings became set when the coaches decided to move junior Allie Stock to forward. She's played both positions extensively. She was moved to the second line with Grace Klein and Sydney Hahn. Huerta said the coaches were looking for more scoring from this line and Stock's insertion has produced results. Hahn and Klein both scored in Friday's game, while Stock and Hahn scored Saturday.

Klein and Hahn both scored short-handed on Friday, as did Stars' leading scorer Jade Williams. The team was called for a season-high eight penalties. It cut down the team's offensive chances, but the penalty killing work helped sharpen the special teams.

The Stars beat Northern Edge 7-1 a month ago. So when the Stars built a 2-0 first period lead and outshot Northern Edge 14-3, the coaches were comfortable in getting all of the girls extensive ice time in the final two periods. Younger girls even got time on the power play and penalty kill as the coaches worked at getting the younger Stars ready for future seasons.

Joining Stock and Hahn as goal scorers on Saturday were Jade Williams, Bailey Williams, Mackenzie Mike and Brooke Motz. It was Motz's first varsity goal.

The Stars will travel to Baraboo this Saturday for a game against the Badger Lightning, a team the Stars beat 13-1 in December. The Stars will play at Onalaska next Tuesday.

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 more than 30 years.

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