Hawks beat fatigue in shootout win
The No. 3-ranked Laurier women’s hockey team played into overtime twice this weekend, dropping a 5-4 decision to the York Lions on Saturday night before topping the UOIT Ridgebacks 2-1 in a shootout the following night.
“Right now we are kind of overloading physically off the ice so it has been a real grind,” said head coach Rick Osborne following Sunday’s win.
“It is a tired team and you can see that by the finish around the net. Our high-powered people, our skilled players just don’t seem to have the strength [and] they don’t have the stamina right now because [athletic therapist] Jamie Carlson has been running [training] two, three times a week. We are getting ready to taper real soon but not just yet.”
The team had a lackluster opening Sunday night, falling behind 1-0 early in the first, after surrendering just five shots.
The Hawks had issues completing passes and finishing scoring chances.
The second period was much the same with the Hawks dominated the play, but looked off while doing it.
In the third period, the team faced the possibility of losing consecutive games for the first time since 2004. However, with eight minutes remaining, third-year Andrea Shapero found the back of the net tie the game up. Overall Laurier outshot UOIT 49-18.
In the shootout, WLU captain Fiona Lester was the hero backhanding home the winner after a beautiful deke gave her a wide open net. This would be Lester’s last regular season home game of her career, as the fourth-year biology student is graduating following the end of the playoffs.
“I just went in thinking, ‘I don’t know if what I’m thinking of doing is going to be open, but I sure hope it is.’ And I did my move and it worked,” said Lester following her goal.
“What a fitting finish for her,” added Osborne. “She has worked the four years she’s been here; post-practice, between games and between practices. Her time management skills are unbelievable, the best I’ve ever seen in a student athlete, maybe anybody. She’s got that move down, she goes at a high speed and she makes the move.”
Lester, along with other graduating players Caitlin Muirhead, Brittany Crago, Paula Lagamba and Maureen Mommersteeg, were honoured before the game.
“We have five players graduating and they are all probably the top five conditioned athletes on our team and I can’t say enough about the leadership they provide,” Osborne said.
Second-year goaltender Erika Thunder had 17 saves in regulation and stopped all three shootout attempts against the Ridgebacks.
Rookie netminder Kayla Brown had the loss in net on Saturday, stopping 19 of 24 shots.
Crago, Tammy Freiburger, Danelle Im and Robyn Degange scored for the Hawks.
The loss to York ended a seven-game winning streak for the team and closed the gap between Laurier and the second-place Guelph Gryphons in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) standings.
Laurier’s three remaining games take place on the road. The Golden Hawks hold a three-point lead over the Gryphons for top spot in the OUA.
Their next game takes place Saturday against Brock in St. Catharines before they visit those same Gryphons on Sunday.