Hawks take game one of OUA final

Despite some penalty trouble and a terrific performance from Guelph goalie Danielle Skoufranis, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s hockey team is one step closer to their seventh-straight provincial title, taking a hard-fought 2-0 win in game one of the best-of-three series.

“It wasn’t our best game,” said Hawks’ rookie Paula Lagamba, who scored her second goal of the post-season in this game. “We had kind of a slow start, things weren’t working, we weren’t sticking to the game plan, but we got it done and hopefully we’ll come out better in the next game.”

The first period and a half of this contest was a dual between the goalies, as Skoufranis and Laurier’s Liz Knox matched each other save for save, leading to a scoreless tie up until the 13 minute mark of the second period. Second-year Caitlin Muirhead would be the one to break the deadlock, putting the Hawks up 1-0 with her first goal of the post-season.

“She really looked like she was in a good zone early in the game,” said Laurier head coach Rick Osborne of Skoufranis’s performance. “I think this will be a good goaltender’s battle right down to the wire.”

Knox, meanwhile, made 29 saves for her second shut-out of the post-season, often turning aside multiple-shot barrages from Guelph’s attack.

“We’ve been getting that year after year from Knox,” said Osborne. “There’s no doubt she’s a key player… she was the top player in the OUA this year and she showed why tonight.”

The purple and gold needed Knox to come up big in this game, as they gave Guelph six power play opportunities. While the majority of the vocal crowd at the Waterloo Recreation Complex felt that most of those calls were questionable, Osborne chalked them up to “retaliation and a little bit of lazy play.”

Game two of the series will go Saturday afternoon in Guelph, and Osborne notes that the Hawks will have to improve their game if they want to avoid playing a game three.

“We had an awful lot of mental breakdowns, a few physical breakdowns and we’re simply going to have to be better on Saturday.”