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Fusion widen BRC lead

The St. Croix Valley Fusion opened up a three-point lead in the Big Rivers Conference standings with a 1-0 victory over the Eau Claire/Altoona Stars Thursday, Jan. 17 in Eau Claire before spoiling the top-ranked Central Wisconsin Storm's bid for a perfect season by playing the defending state champs to a 2-2 tie Saturday, Jan. 19 in Baldwin.

The Fusion now 10-7-1 overall, 3-0-0 in BRC play, visit Hudson (5-7-1) this Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. before hosting the New Richmond co-op (3-10-0) Saturday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. in Baldwin.

Last Thursday in Eau Claire, freshman Hanna Zevenbergen scored the only goal of the game and Carlie Christensen stopped all 11 shots she faced in a 1-0 BRC victory over the Stars.

Zevenbergen picked up a loose puck just inside her own zone on a power play and carried it all the way down the ice before firing a wrist shot over the left shoulder of Stars' goalie Jordyn Bunch at the 2:35 mark of the third period.

Saturday against the undefeated and No.1-ranked Central Wisconsin Storm (D.C. Everest, Mosinee, Wausau East, Wausau West), Micha Bennett and Sally Cranston each scored power play goals and Kalli Armagost finished with 31 saves in a 2-2 tie.

The Storm struck first, at the 5:49 mark of the opening period, before Bennett knotted the score on a Fusion power play nine minutes later, assisted by Cranston and Zevenbergen.

Central Wisconsin took a 2-1 lead late in the second period but Cranston one-timed a pass across the slot from Heather Shew on another Fusion power play with 1:47 remaining in the second to tie the score, 2-2.

Armagost denied the Storm through a scoreless third period and overtime to send Central Wisconsin home with a record of 16-0-1. The Storm outshot the Fusion 33-15 in the game.

"We have had a lot of close games with the Storm in the past," Fusion head coach Matt Cranston said. "We play them home and away every year and have played them two times in the state tournament. Both games in the state tournament were overtime games and more games than not of the regular season games have been decided in overtime. This was a fun game for the girls and fun for the fans to see."

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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