Fusion on fire, beat top-ranked ECA
The St. Croix Valley Fusion girls hockey team is peaking at the right time.
Since losing three straight games over the holiday break, the Fusion have won nine of their last ten, including a 6-5 victory over the state's top-ranked team—the Eau Claire Area Stars—Thursday, Jan. 25, at Wildcat Centre. They followed that up with a 3-1 victory over fourth-ranked University School of Milwaukee Saturday, Jan. 27, in Baldwin for their sixth straight win.
The Fusion, ranked third in last week's Wisconsin Prep Hockey poll, have two games remaining, including a rematch with No. 2 Hudson Tuesday, Jan. 30. St. Croix Valley's last loss came against Hudson, 5-1, on Jan. 11 when the Raiders held the No. 1 ranking in the state.
After last Thursday's 6-5 victory over the new No. 1 Stars, Fusion head coach Matt Cranston said the team is ready to make a run in the postseason.
"Obviously it was a huge win," he said. "The ECA Stars are the No. 1 team in the state and they have tons of talent. It was a very fun night. We are playing the best hockey of the year right now, hopefully we can keep it going through playoffs."
Senior Maddie Schultz scored four of the Fusion's six goals while sophomore goalie Sydney Seeley made a season-high 45 saves to snap the Stars' 12-game winning streak.
Freshman Jaden Woiwode got the Fusion on the board first when she picked off an ECA breakout pass and scored an unassisted goal 2 minutes, 25 seconds into the game.
After the Stars tied it up, Woiwode netted her second unassisted goal of the night at the 8:34 mark before the Stars were able to tie the score again before the end of the first period.
The second period was the Maddie Schultz Show. Schultz netted a natural hat trick beginning 9:33 into the period with assists from Gabby Bresina and Lilly Accola and three minutes later with an assist from Kamryn Jacobs.
The Stars' all-state forward Abigail Stow, a UW-River Falls recruit, scored her second goal of the game on a power play with 2:14 remaining in the period but Schultz took a pass from Taylar Meier and completed her hat trick just 37 seconds later to put the Fusion up 5-3 after two.
Seeley registered 20 of her 50 saves in the second period alone as the Fusion outscored the Stars, 3-1, despite being outshot, 21-5.
Schultz's fourth goal of the night came unassisted at the 5:26 mark of the third period to make it a 6-3 game and the Stars scored two goals in the last five minutes, including Stow's third of the game, but Seeley and the Fusion were able to hold on for the one-goal win despite being outshot, 50-14.
Saturday at the United Civic Center in Baldwin, Schultz tallied two more goals, including an empty-netter, in the Fusion's 3-1 victory over University School of Milwaukee.
Jacobs scored the only goal of the first period when she took a pass from Meier, weaved through three Wildcat defenders and beat the goalie from the top of the slot at the 13:06 mark.
USM made it a 1-1 game after two but it took just 14 seconds into the third period for Schultz to poke in a loose puck for what proved to be the game-winner. She added an empty-netter with 21 seconds remaining to make the final 3-1.
Senior goalie Olivia Klund finished with 21 saves as the Fusion outshot the Wildcats, 23-22.
After Tuesday's Big Rivers Conference showdown at Hudson, the Fusion will wrap up the regular season against Onalaska Saturday, Feb. 3, at 2 p.m. at Wildcat Centre.