Business as usual for women’s hockey team

The message is a simple one, but coach Rick Osborne is making sure it’s entrenched into the young absorbing minds of his women’s hockey squad.

Skate fast, skate hard and skate together.

But speed is one thing this year’s crop of roadrunners may not need too much time to perfect.

“It’s really important for us to make it a track meet, make it a race in every zone- particularly the neutral zone and the large ice surface here [at the Waterloo Recreational Complex] helps us do that,” said Osborne.

That “catch-me-if-you-can” mentality led to the best offensive explosion the Hawks have enjoyed all season in an 8-1 thrashing of the Queen’s Gaels on Sunday to improve to 17-1-1 after downing the UOIT Ridgebacks on Friday night.

Sharing in the wealth on Sunday was Laura Brooker as Laurier’s lethal rookie scored her 13th and 14th goals of the year.

That’s top of the team, tops for all league rookies and second in the entire OUA (Ontario University Athletics) when it comes to goals scored.

And guess what she attributes her team’s success to?

“With any team it’s speed first – you want to keep the pressure going and that’s exactly what we do,” said Brooker.

But don’t think the forwards get to have all the fun.

“Our defence are definitely involved in the attack a lot more than in previous years,” said Osborne.

And they can serve it up with frightening diversity.

Defenceman Fiona Lester and Alicia Martin are material evidence of Osborne’s rhetoric. They sandwiched the Hawks’ feeding frenzy.

Lester notched the opener when she left her post at the blueline, snuck into the slot and fired a wrister past Queen’s goalie Mel Dodd-Moher to open the floodgates.

Martin rocketed a point shot that found its way to the top right corner of the Queen’s cage to give the Hawks their 8th – from the same spot Brittany Crago placed her gorgeous snipe job earlier in the period.

As the season wears on, the onus is on the Hawks to play with the same intensity during Game 27 as they did with Game One.

“Last year we tended to have a big, dominating first half, and even though our second half was dominating, we got outplayed an awful lot and [goaltender Liz] Knox saved us,” said Osborne. “We talked about that over and over…that won’t happen this year.”

Osborne has gotten the squad to buy into the systems he’s instilled and what once looked like a bunch of skilled athletes thrown together now looks like a cohesive, unified front, running off plays like they’ve been doing them for years.

“As a coach, you always worry about how many players you’ve got on the “me” side and how many you’ve got on the “we” side and we have more players on the “we” side on this year’s team than since I’ve been here.”