Golden Hawks women’s hockey team are Toronto bound for playoffs

Photo by Jessica Dik

Photo by Jessica Dik

For the second consecutive year, the Wilfrid Laurier women’s hockey team is heading into the Ontario University Athletics playoffs without home ice advantage.

The Hawks dropped their regular season finale to the Queen’s Gaels 4-1 on Feb. 20, securing seventh place in the standings and a date with the second-place Toronto Varsity Blues in the playoffs. The team finished with an overall record of 10-3-9-2 and 38 points.

“I was pretty proud of the way the team played tonight on an emotional night,” head coach Rick Osborne said, referencing senior’s night for Jessie Hurrell, Blair Connelly, Haley Baxter, Erika Kiviaho and Robyn Degagne. “I felt we had more scoring chances in this game tonight against one of the premier clubs in the league than we’ve had in the last month.”

Laurier trailed early when a goal by Queen’s Megan Farrell found the back of the net by a misdirect that bounced off a Hawk and behind third-year goaltender Amanda Smith.

Laurier tied things up in the second period when Dollee Meigs and Jessica Prevette got behind the Gaels defence and set up a perfect tic-tac-toe play on a two on none breakaway, allowing Prevette to finish and put the Hawks on the board. Queen’s grabbed the lead again on a power-play goal that saw them crash the crease, and after the Gaels capitalized on a 5-on-3 power-play goal, the Hawks couldn’t recover. Osborne said Laurier didn’t seem to have any “puck luck” around the net, and was stymied by Queen’s goaltender Caitlyn Lahonen.

“We had no puck luck around their net tonight. I still thought we had a chance to get back in there tonight,” he said.

The game honoured the five seniors graduating from the team this year. Players like Baxter, Hurrell and Connelly are graduating from a team that had a perfect 25-0 season, scored 130 goals and was the top team in the country back in the 2011-12 season.

Despite such a tumultuous year for the once perennial powerhouse of the OUA, the Hawks are confident heading into the playoffs.

“I think this season is just reflective on how our team is able to bounce back,” Baxter said. “Next game is a whole new game. I think we’ll be able to come back and use that playoff competitiveness to our advantage.”   

In terms of finding success on the ice, Baxter said the Hawks need to stay disciplined if they are going to upset the No. 4 team in the country, including remaining defensively sound and keeping the puck out of their own net — especially on the penalty kill.

“A lot of teams in this league have very strong power plays,” she said. “Going forward, [we need to take] advantage of the opportunities that we get.”

Osborne said the Hawks have ample time to prepare both on and off the ice for their rivals, starting with a playoff workshop and three to five practices on the ice.

The series begins in Toronto on Wednesday night before returning to Waterloo Friday.

“We’ve got time to work out some kinks on the ice, and we’re going to work out some things at the workshop,” he said.

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