Lady ’Jackets keep pace for NCHA titleEDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an installment of “The Yellowjacket Buzz,” a weekly column by Mike Sylvester of the University of Wisconsin-Superior athletic department. “The Buzz” runs Thursdays in The Daily Telegram during the fall, winter and spring sports seasons.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an installment of “The Yellowjacket Buzz,” a weekly column by Mike Sylvester of the University of Wisconsin-Superior athletic department. “The Buzz” runs Thursdays in The Daily Telegram during the fall, winter and spring sports seasons.
UWS scores big wins
After several years of heartbreaking defeats at the hands of UW-Stevens Point, the University of Wisconsin-Superior women’s hockey team finally turned the tables on the Pointers, beating them 3-1 and 2-1 in overtime last weekend at Wessman Arena.
On Friday night, Brianne Mosher, Gina Baranzelli and Jasmine Pollock all scored goals, while Kirsti Hakala added a pair of assists. Meslissa Kunzelman made 23 saves to get the win.
On Saturday, Baranzelli scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in overtime to lift the Yellowjackets to a sweep. Rikki Nespor made 31 saves in goal for UWS.
With the wins, the Yellowjackets are 16-4-1 overall and 11-2-1 in the NCHA. That puts them three points behind UWSP for the top spot in the NCHA, but the Yellowjackets have a pair of games in hand. It was the first time this season the Pointers had tasted defeat, as they were 17-0-2 coming into the game.
UWS is at Eau Claire this weekend and then hosts Finlandia next weekend, while the Pointers host Lake Forest this weekend and then wrap up their regular season with a non-conference series against Adrian the following weekend.
The wins against Stevens Point were important because women’s NCAA playoff berths are all awarded on an at-large basis. The ’Jackets had lost to Gustavus Adolphus and Stevens Point earlier in the season, so the wins against Point will give them much consideration for a berth when the season ends.
Complicating things is the NCHA postseason tournament, the O’Brien Cup, which will be hosted by the top seeded team Feb. 29-March 2. Wins or losses in that event could likely determine whether or not the Yellowjackets make it into the NCAA tournament. To top things off, Baranzelli was named the NCHA women’s player of the week, following her spectacular weekend.
Huge game ahead
Following an overtime win against UW-Eau Claire and a tie against Stevens Point last weekend, the UWS men’s hockey team is still fighting for home ice, and could possibly finish as high as second place in the NCHA, heading into the final game of the season against St. Scholastica on Friday.
The Yellowjackets (12-5-7 overall, 6-4-3 NCHA) are currently tied with UW-River Falls for third place, but are just a point behind UW-Stout. UWSP is just two points behind UWS.
The Yellowjackets hold the tiebreaker with Stout, but lose that same tiebreaker when paired against River Falls and Stevens Point. That means the Yellowjackets could drop as low as fifth if they fall to the Saints and Stevens Point beats Eau Claire.
Since an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament is out of the question, the ’Jackets would need to win the Peters Cup to get the NCHA’s automatic berth. Getting a top seed and home ice in the playoffs would be the first step towards accomplishing that goal.
Friday night’s game at Mars Lakeview Arena begins at 7 p.m. The game can be heard locally on KUWS 91.3 FM and seen on My 9 TV.
Records broken again
Records continued to fall for the UWS men’s and women’s track team, which competed in a meet that included Stout, St. Olaf and St. Thomas last weekend.
Alicia Bourget got her name into the record books with a throw of 11.52 meters in the shot put. That broke a record that was established 21 years ago by Sheila Kreigel. On the track, Katee Rosburg continued her domination by winning the mile and the 1,000-meter run. Jenna Halverson also had a nice day, as she was second in both the 600 and 1,000. In the men’s meet, Matt Kramer won the 800 and was third in the 600, while Jason Lindelof was second in the mile and fourth in the 1000.
Both the men’s and women’s teams will compete in the Lake Superior Challenge Saturday at St. Scholastica.
UWS women lose twice
A shorthanded UWS women’s basketball failed to score a season sweep against River Falls last week, as the Falcons avenged their early-season loss to UWS by beating the Yellowjackets 70-41.
Playing without several regulars (Carissa Nord, Becky Roberts and Allison Weld), the ’Jackets also lost to Stevens Point on Saturday.
UWS will try to turn things around when it hosts Stout tonight and Platteville Saturday.
Down the stretch
The Yellowjacket men came up short in a couple of games last week, but neither lacked any excitement or drama. Last Wednesday, Dwight Hill hit a last-second 3-pointer to send the game at River Falls into overtime, but ultimately the Falcons were able to prevail, 84-81. On Saturday ninth-ranked Stevens Point came to town and handed UWS a 95-65 defeat.
Through the first 21 games of the season, the Yellowjackets still have four players in double figures: Jake Smith, Dan Culy, Shane Manor and Hill. The ’Jackets (8-13 overall, 4-9 WIAC) are heading down the home stretch this week as they travel to Stout tonight and then host Platteville on Saturday. UWS wraps up its regular season with games at Finlandia and Oshkosh next week.
With four wins in the conference, it appears as though the Yellowjackets will qualify for the postseason for the first time in several years. Should they qualify, they will be on the road in the first round, most likely at Whitewater, Platteville or Oshkosh.
Mike Sylvester is an assistant softball coach at UWS. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.