Women’s D-III wrap: Dec. 16

Fine week for WIAC
For the three seasons prior to this year, Gustavus Adolphus had built a brilliant 44-0-4 record on home ice. An early season, one-goal defeat put an end to the stellar streak. In the final game before the semester break however, the Golden Gusties were stung once again at home, taking a 3-0 loss at the hands of visiting No. 10 Wisconsin-River Falls. Gustavus Adolphus had not been on the losing end of a regular season shutout since a 0-0 tie with Trinity on Jan. 14, 2011. Wis.-River Falls senior Katie Batters had a pair of goals in the win, but her first of the night was all that was required to trip up the No. 6 Golden Gusties. Batters’ unassisted short-handed tally occurred 13 seconds into the third period. Falcons freshman forward Jenna Ulberg precipitated the short-handed situation when was sent to the box for checking at 18:33 of the second. Batters, the top goal scorer for the Falcons with seven, had been held without a score in her last three games before taking to the sheet at Don Roberts Ice Arena. Batters closed out the festivities with an empty-netter with a helper from Brook Story with six seconds left in regulation. Ashley Kuechle turned aside 25 shots in gaining her third shutout of the year. The Falcons held the Golden Gusties leading scorer, sophomore Allison Eder-Zdechlik, to two shots on goal in the game, both coming in the first 40 minutes of action. Both of the Golden Gusties losses at home this season have come at the hands of teams from the WIAC.

The WIAC has had a significant role in what has become a weekly merry-go-round of suitors for the lower end of the USCHO poll rankings. Overall, the four entities in the conference have combined for a 16-5-6 nonconference record. Factoring out Wis.-Eau Claire,  the numbers improve to 15-1-4. Wis.-River Falls is the lone team to take a nonconference hit, a 5-3 loss to Bethel.

St. Thomas coach Tom Palkowski could have concluded 2013 by achieving his 100th career win with the Tommies, but visiting Wis.-Stevens Point concocted an opposite scenario with a pair of weekend victories in the Tommies’ home building. Cassandra Salmen scored two third-period goals last Friday in a tight 3-2 Pointers win. On Saturday, St. Thomas had a hefty advantage on shots on goal over Stevens Point, but it proved to be all for naught as Megan Nickelson’s winner at 10:39 left in regulation capped a 1-0 win for the Pointers. Palkowski currently stands at 98 wins. The Tommies open the 2014 with a home-and-home series with St. Norbert on January 4.