Hawks Upset Gaels in First Round Playoffs


Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros
Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

Two late goals in the third period was all the Wilfrid Laurier University women’s hockey team needed in a 3-2 come-from-behind victory in game two to sink the Queen’s Gaels in first round play. The Hawks swept the sixth-place nationally ranked team in the country two games to none in the best-of-three series and advanced to the second round of the  Ontario University Athletics playoffs. They will now face the Western Mustangs in the semi-final round.

The win came just two days after a triple-overtime victory by the Golden Hawks at home.

Fourth-year defender Haley Baxter and third-year left-winger Erika Kiviaho scored a minute and a half apart in the final three minutes of the third period to take the lead.

Head coach Rick Osborne had to make changes on the fly in order to adapt to the ongoing situation playing out on the ice.

“I had been working on a pull goalie play, and then I switched and I was working on the overtime lineup, and then I was able to whisk my little scorecard away and focus on defending a one goal lead for the last minute,” he said.

“There was a mixture of emotions on the bench- it was a pretty composed bunch who scored twice.”

Fourth-year centre Jessie Hurrell, who scored a goal, and added two assists during game two, scored the game tying goal a minute into the second period. The Gaels would retake the lead at the end of the second period.

Special teams was also a huge factor in the series. The Gaels ended the regular season with the top powerplay in the conference while the Hawks placed second. Laurier had the advantage on the penalty killing unit, placing fourth in the conference while the Gaels were 13th. The Hawks had four penalties throughout the series while the Gaels only had three, including one in the final three minutes. At the one minute and 25 mark, Baxter made the Gaels pay with a shot from the front of the blue line through traffic to give the Hawks a lead coming into the dying minutes.

“I think I was just trying my best to get the puck to the net. Luckily we had a lot of good screens that were in a really good position. It was just a light wrister, but it ended up getting through,” Baxter said. “It was a pretty exciting moment.”

Baxter’s play throughout the series drew the praise of her coach.

“She’s in her fourth year and we can play her for six periods almost every second shift, and she is still running down players, she’s still got enough muster to wire one right from the top of the blue line, wire the winning goal on the powerplay,” Osborne said, on Baxter’s performance.

According to Osborne, scoring two goals in the last minute was a testament to the Hawks resolve and their conditioning.

“For a three minute spread, after nine periods in two days, we had some kids who were still paying the price of the time out there get us through that last three minutes and not have to go back.”

With the win, the Hawks will now face off against the third place nationally Mustangs. The best-of-three series begins Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. in London.

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