The Western Wisconsin Stars (WWS) played a huge game Thursday night versus the #2 ranked Hudson Raiders. The Raiders had a strong showing in their home opener with a 7-0 win versus Rochester Mayo but the Stars quickly shut them down.
The team scored two goals in the first period, three goals in the second and added one more in the third period. “The whole team worked hard and created excellent scoring chances. It was an entire team effort- our goaltending was awesome, defensively we played great and offensively, we put the puck in the net,” said Stars coaches Bob Huerta and Breanna Seibel.
The first two shifts of the game looked like an even match. However, the Raiders didn’t expect what was brewing on the WWS bench.
On her second shift of the game, Makenzie Weeks beat two Hudson players, shot and noticed that her puck had trickled by the goal line where she tapped it in during a scrum in front to give WWS an early 1-0 lead.
Thirty seconds later, Ellie Brice beat the goalie with a great shot on a pass from Erin Huerta to give the Stars a 2-0 lead. About a minute later, MacKenzie Mike of WWS received a minor penalty giving Hudson the opportunity to get back in the game. The Hudson Raiders scored a power play goal 1:30 into their powerplay. The puck bounced off of a defenders stick in front of Stars goalie, Caitlin Erickson, and Sydney Hendricks put it away to restore the Raiders hope going into the second period. The Stars were ahead 2-1.
The second period began and the first whistle was a scrum in front of the Raider net that ended with a Stars goal being called off. The Stars quickly bounced back and added to their lead with a shot from Erin Huerta just 36 seconds into the second period.
Six minutes later the Raiders received a penalty that WWS would capitalize on. Brice scored on a power play rebound from Weeks and Huerta to give the Stars a 4-1 lead.
Just four minutes later, the Stars capitalized on another Hudson penalty with a powerplay goal scored by Weeks from Jade Williams. Williams fired a crisp tape-to-tape pass to Weeks at the defensive blue line. Weeks carried the puck in, read the play, toe-dragged the defender and scored backhand five hole on Hudson netminder, Amelia Halunen. Hudson then switched Halunen out of the net and replaced her with Alayna Kushiner.
Hudson came out hard in the third period and were hungry for goals but just couldn’t get the job done. The Stars were able to relax a little bit and mix in some players to allow them opportunities and experience at the varsity level.
However, just three minutes in to the third period, Hendricks gave the Stars a powerplay opportunity. The Stars felt confident and mixed up the powerplay a little bit. The Raiders successfully killed off the penalty and once again, were out for goals. Huerta squashed any hope that was left when she stripped a Hudson defender of the puck and raced on a breakaway with two backcheckers on her heels to score low blocker on Kushiner.
The game ended with a Williams penalty that gave the Raiders one final chance to push a puck past Erickson in net but the Stars penalty kill was too much to handle.
The evening ended giving WWS a 6-1 win over Hudson for the first time in Stars history. The Stars now have a record of 4-0 and Hudson has a record of 1-1. The Stars face off again against Chippewa Falls-Menomonie on Tuesday, December 4th at 7:00pm for their home opener in Somerset.
Overall, the Stars put together a complete game, winning all three periods of play. The coaches say the reason for their success is due to the unselfishness of the team and the dedication and discipline of every single player on the Stars team but there is still a lot of work to do.