[slidepress gallery = '130214_womens_hockey']
Forward Katie Batters scored two goals for No. 5 Wisconsin-River Falls in its 3-1 victory over the St. Thomas women’s hockey team Wednesday at St. Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights.
St. Thomas’ (10-7-2 overall, 9-4-1 MIAC) only goal came from forward Christina Rozeske in the third period.
Midway through the first period, the Falcons converted on a 2-on-1 breakaway as Batters scored with assists from forward Leah Gefroh and defenseman Allie Olson.
The Tommies’ offense pressured the Falcons’ defense with their strong forechecks. The momentum came to a halt when forward Korinne O’Connor was called for a hooking penalty with seven minutes left in the first period.
River Falls finished the period with 11-5 shot advantage.
Goaltender Alise Riedel said the team knew what to expect from River Falls’ type of offense.
“They’re a fast-paced team,” Riedel said. “We always like playing them, and it’s nice to get away from conference play. It’s good to see someone faster-paced than what we’re used to.”
In the second period, the Tommies came out energized, keeping the puck in the Falcons’ defensive zone for the first half of the period.
Defender Dani Buehrer sparked River Falls when she found Gefroh skating center ice. Gefroh beat Riedel and scored top shelf three and a half minutes into the period.
As the period progressed, each team had opportunities to score but none better than Rozeske’s. Rozeske had a partial breakaway, but it Buehrer broke it up. She was called for holding, but no penalty shot was enforced.
River Falls was called for another penalty toward the end of the second period, and St. Thomas created solid opportunities from this, but no goals. Forward Morgan Olson was called for hooking with barely two minutes to go in the period.
Both teams doubled their shot totals at the end of the second period as St. Thomas finished with 11 and River Falls with 24.
At the start of the third perioed, coach Tom Palkowski substituted starter Riedel for goalie Taylor Neisen.
Palkowski said changing the goaltenders helped both Niesen and the team.
“Just trying to get her in the game,” Palkowski said. “Sometimes you just look for a little spark for your team and for the most part it paid off.”
Forward Courtney Umland had a break away two and a half minutes into the third period, but was unsuccessful in scoring.
River Falls also had an opportunity and scored after Batters stole the puck in front of net and went top shelf on Neisen.
Mid-way through the third, Rozeske got a pass from defender Megan Juricko, who received the puck from Olson to put the Tommies on the board 3-1.
Rozeske said scoring was a morale boost.
“It was nice to break the shutout and get one on the board against them,” Rozeske said. “We obviously didn’t win tonight, but we definitely got things going for how we want to play for the end of the season.”
Toward the end of third period, St. Thomas had one last chance to score, but a stingy River Falls penalty kill unit buried that hope.
The Falcons went on to defeat the Tommies 3-1, outshooting St. Thomas 36-17.
Augsburg hosts St. Thomas Friday, and the Tommies host the Auggies Saturday.
Palkowski said this weekend’s match-up is huge for the team in the conference standings and his players need to come out with an up-tempo style.
“We need to play with this intensity,” Palkowski said. “We’ve got the bottom two teams in the conference, and we control our destiny for second place.”
Jesse Krull can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.