CIS finals: game one preview

ANTIGONISH, NS— The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s hockey team kicks off their 2010 Canadian Interuniversity Sport finals tonight with a match-up against the Alberta Pandas. The Canada West Conference champion Pandas come into the tournament ranked third in the national standings, behind the Hawks (who rank second) and two-time defending national champions, the McGill Martlets.

Much like the Hawks, the Pandas dominated their conference in the regular season, only losing one game all season, finishing ten points ahead of the second-place Manitoba Bisons. In another parallel to Laurier, Alberta can get it done at both ends of the rink, as they led the Canada West Conference in goals for with 94, while allowing a league-low 21.

Leading the dangerous Alberta attack is last year’s CIS MVP Tarin Podloski, who finished third in the nation in scoring this season with 43 points. However, she will be in tough against this year’s CIS MVP, Laurier net minder Liz Knox, who comes into the national championship as arguably the hottest goalie in the tournament.

Knox only allowed 22 goals in her 25 starts this season, posting 11 shut-outs, which set a new Ontario University Athletics (OUA) single-season record and tied the CIS milestone held by two-time Olympic gold medallist Charlene Labonte. The fourth-year led the Hawks to a 4-0 post-season, in which she only allowed two goals, recording a pair of shut-outs. Knox came up huge time and time again in Laurier’s OUA championship series versus the Guelph Gryphons, turning aside 50 of the 51 shots she faced over the two games.

Offensively, the Hawks will also be in tough as Pandas’ goalie Dana Vinge posted similar numbers to Knox, leading Canada West in every goaltending statistic. The purple and gold will have to continue to rely on the balanced scoring that they have enjoyed all season, getting contributions from all four lines.

The winner of this game will get an off-day tomorrow, while the loser will have to play the host St. FX X-women at 7:30.

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