Hawks roll over Aigles Bleues in second game of CIS championship

(Photo by Shelby Blackley)
(Photo by Shelby Blackley)

FREDERICTON, N.B – If there was ever a time for a bounce back, that was it.

The Wilfrid Laurier women’s hockey team stepped on the ice at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship Friday with a 4-1 loss from Thursday in the back of their minds.

And without hesitation, the Hawks climbed over the Moncton Aigles Bleues 6-0 to make a statement that they’re not done at the CIS championship.

After finishing off the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship with two shutouts, rookie goaltender Amanda Smith added to her repertoire with another.

Head coach Rick Osborne said he loves those zeroes.

“Oh, I love them,” he smiled. “I do like those zeroes. I like the zeroes anytime, but especially when there could be a possible differential for a tiebreaker. It gives us a chance.”

Laurier began their offensive attack 44 seconds into the game and never looked back. Despite a rocky first period, third-year Jessie Hurrell beat Moncton rookie goaltender Gabrielle Forget to give Laurier a comfortable 1-0 lead.

However, Moncton used their forecheck to get some big chances against the Hawks and forcing the defence and Smith to work hard to maintain the lead.

“We wanted to start off really strong considering last game we didn’t play very well. This game, we just wanted to get off on the right foot. That goal really helped considering we didn’t have a good first period at all,” said third-year Jessie Hurrell, who had two goals to tie her career high in a single game.

In the second, the floodgates opened. Starting less than three minutes into the frame, third-year Megan Howe put away a crazy scramble in front of Forget to put the Hawks up 2-0.

But it didn’t stop. Rookie Montana Merante would tally her first-career playoff marker midway through the frame on a great shot from the point through many screens. Hurrell would add her second eight minutes later to make the score 4-0, and second-year Erika Kiviaho put away a big rebound to spread the lead to five.

Moncton had trouble keeping up to the speed and pace of the Hawks, falling behind on breaks and unable to stop the speed down the sides.

“It’s always the game plan,” captain Laura Brooker said of the speed. “We know our speed kills and … we know we would bring it every game. It’s one of our top things, speed tempo pace.”

And that pace would continue into the third, with the Hawks keeping their lead solid while still challenging Forget for another. However, the rookie netminder stood on her head, stopping some big opportunities for the Hawks to keep the score to five.

With a minute and a half to go, second-year Robyn Degagne would round out the scoring for Laurier.

After playing a strong McGill team just 24 hours earlier, the Hawks found their speed and energy to be their biggest asset. And much of that is to the credit of their six skating rookies.

Five out of the six rookies recorded at least a point against Moncton, and helped with much of the forecheck throughout.

“You could tell the butterflies were out and it’s great to see. I know in my rookie year, I was nervous as heck. So, it’s great to see that. They’re the extra energy we need,” Brooker said.

“The rookies have been doing awesome. They’ve all been really contributing and they’re all really good players. With them, it just helps us out a lot,” Hurrell agreed.

The 6-0 win matches the largest spread Laurier has ever gotten at a CIS championship, dating back to Mar. 10, 2005 when they played the Manitoba Bisons. Laurier also won that game 6-0.

The Hawks now have to wait before they find out if they will play for gold or bronze on Sunday. A McGill win will send the Martlets to the final and Laurier to the bronze. However, a Moncton win could create some tiebreakers if necessary.

“We just have to wait. We’ll practice hard, enjoy our team bonding and take care of the schoolwork. Other than that, it’s the waiting game,” said Brooker.

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