Hawks can’t finish perfect season

The team playing spoiler may have changed, but the result remained the same as the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s hockey team saw their drive for perfection end in the final game of the regular season for the second year in a row.

The Windsor Lancers took over the role the York Lions played last year and shocked the unbeaten Hawks, handing them their first and only defeat of the season, taking the game 2-1 in overtime, leaving the Hawks with a 26-0-1 record.

“Initially, it was pretty shocking,” said Hawks’ head coach Rick Osborne after the loss. “But when you really look at it, I thought the game was a typical Laurier-Windsor game. They were playing to get one good break, and they finally got one with less than two minutes left and that momentum carried them right into the overtime.”

The Hawks took the lead just over eight minutes into the game on second-year Abby Rainsberry’s fourth goal of the year, but they were unable to extend their advantage thanks to a stellar performance from Lancer’s goalie Jamie Tessier, who stopped 52 of Laurier’s 53 shots.

“We’ve had issues with Tessier stoning us in the past,” said Osborne. “We held a pretty large advantage in shots, but we just couldn’t finish.”

With Tessier holding her team in the game, the Lancers tied it up late in the third period and sent the game to overtime. That tying goal also ended Hawks’ goalie Liz Knox’s attempt at breaking the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) record for career shut-outs.

Full of energy after their late-game comeback, Windsor’s Ashley Kirby scored midway through the overtime period, giving the Lancers a playoff berth and sending the Hawks home one point short of a perfect season.

“We really haven’t been all that sharp the entire second half [of the season] and I think you can attribute that to the fact that we would keep winning, even when we didn’t play that well,” said Osborne. “This was actually a good wake-up call to get heading into the playoffs.”

The Hawks won’t have to wait long to get a chance at exacting some revenge on the Lancers, because while the purple and gold were enjoying their bye week, Windsor pulled off another upset in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) quarter-finals. Riding more incredible goaltending from Tessier, the Lancers defeated the number nine nationally-ranked York Lions, qualifying them for a date with the Hawks in the provincial semi-finals.

“I’m not worried at all about the way we’ll bounce back,” said Osborne of the Hawks’ coming rematch with the Lancers. “We have as much depth as any team in the country, we definitely have the goaltending, and on top of that we have the conditioning level to raise expectations once again this year.”

The best-of-three series starts tomorrow night at the Waterloo Recreation Complex, with game two going Saturday in Windsor. If necessary, game three will be in Waterloo.

As the team turns their attention to the playoffs, four Hawks were recognized by the OUA for their outstanding regular seasons.

Knox was named player of the year, while Candice Styles won the rookie of the year award. Knox was also named a first-team all-star along with captain Andrea Ironside, while Styles and fellow first-year Maureen Mommersteeg made the all-rookie team.