2009-10 Laurier women’s hockey preview

Last season, the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks’ women’s hockey team had one of their most successful seasons, going 26-1, winning their sixth consecutive Ontario University Athletics (OUA) title.

Coming into 2009-10, the most glaring changes from last year is the graduation of captain and two-time OUA player of the year Andrea Bevan and three-time provincial all-star Lauren Barch, who is also a former OUA player of the year.

“Every year you lose key players but we always have talented new ones come in,” said new captain Andrea Ironside. “It’ll definitely take time to fill those shoes, but I know we have the potential and the ability to do it.”

Despite losing two of their top three scorers from last year in Bevan and Barch, the Hawks should have no problems picking up where they left off in terms of scoring.

Second-years Caitlin Muirhead and Abby Rainsberry are coming off impressive rookie seasons and veterans Kaley Powers and Heather Fortuna are ready to see increased roles after breakout years.

Add in rookie sensation Candace Styles – who will likely see time on the top line with Ironside – and fellow talented first-year Devon Skeats and the Hawks should be able to remain a scoring machine.

“I’m not looking to miss too much of a step this year,” said head coach Rick Osborne.

“I would say that athletically, we’re just as good if not better than last year’s team. We’ll need to work at playing with some grit at times but speed and skill-wise we have no problems.”

Defensively, the Hawks lost Bevan and fellow veteran Alison Williams. This means that returnees like Stephanie Crarey will have to help rookies Maureen Mommersteeg and Fiona Lester adjust to OUA competition.

“Things are definitely on the way up for us,” said Ironside. “We’ve brought in a lot of new girls who have a lot of talent, so things are right where we want them right now.”

In net, two-time all-star Liz Knox, who many consider to be the top goaltender in the OUA, returns for her fourth year.

While there is no shortage of talent on this year’s team, the Hawks’ inexperience may end up resulting in a few more losses than usual.

However, there is no reason to believe that they will fall short of their seventh straight OUA title.

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