This year’s Eau Claire Area Stars squad is one of the few in recent history with positive memories associated with Hudson.
The reigning state champion Stars breezed by the Raiders in last year’s sectionals, winning 6-1 thanks to three goals each from Abigail Stow and Ava Kison, to end Hudson’s season and earn the program’s first trip to the state tournament.
Since, ECA has hung a banner on the wall at Hobbs Municipal Center, while Hudson has stewed in its rare defeat.
“Last year I think they expected to go to state,” Stars forward Lauren Carmody said. “Since we stole that from them, I think this team wanted to avenge themselves, wanted to get back at us for it.”
And that they did. Hudson got two goals from Sydney Hendricks in a 4-1 victory against ECA in the opener of a boys/girls doubleheader at Hobbs on Thursday.
“The bounces definitely went in their favor tonight,” Stars coach Tom Bernhardt said. “Credit to them. They’re creating those good breaks and opportunities. That’s what good teams do.”
The Stars will likely move down in the state rankings with the loss. ECA was ranked No. 3 in the latest WIPH/Coaches Poll, while Hudson slotted in at No. 8.
ECA got out to a lead in the second period but was unable to hold on.
Stars forward Kami Krumenauer nearly scored the first goal of the game three minutes into the second period. She was planted in perfect position to tap in a rebound, right on the crease to the left of the Raiders’ goalie, but was taken out of the play by a crosscheck in the back from Hudson’s Hana Hellmers.
The ensuing power play brought some justice when Lauren Carmody scored from nearly the same position. She was about a foot closer to the center of the crease when Paige Ruppert found her with a pass from the corner. Carmody’s first shot hit pad, but she collected the rebound and fired the puck into the back of the net with 12:37 remaining in the middle frame.
Hudson almost responded seconds later when a puck fluttered wide of cage. Instead, the Raiders got their equalizer immediately off a faceoff with 4:14 remaining in the second. Gretta Mohrland won the draw and got the puck back to Taylor Wanschneider, who fired a shot from the top of the left circle.
The Raiders took a 2-1 lead into the second break after Hendricks corralled a bouncing shot from the point and spun around into a shot to beat ECA’s Naomi Stow with 13.1 seconds on the clock.
“We’ve been trying to preach to the kids all year about opportunities on net,” Bernhardt said. “They got pucks to the net and we didn’t.”
ECA had a handful of chances to tie in the third, with most coming on a power play with under 10 minutes remaining. Hendricks iced the game when she pounced on a failed pass to the point in the Stars zone. She got a stride ahead of the Stars defender, allowing her to get an advantageous angle when skating toward center from Stow’s right. By the time she was on the crease, she was completely behind the defense and able to fire from close range.
Mallory Thompson scored on the empty net with .4 seconds remaining.
The Stars return to non-conference action for another matchup with state ranking implications on Monday against Western Wisconsin. ECA is currently one spot higher than Western Wisconsin in the poll. ECA won the lone previous matchup this season 3-2.