Hawks tie China

The defending Ontario University Athletics (OUA) champion Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks’ women’s hockey team continued its pre-season over the weekend with a game against some unusual competition in the form of the Chinese national team.

In a very entertaining back-andforth game, the teams tied 2-2 with the Hawks taking the lead twice only to have China tie the game each time.

“I saw speed, tempo and pace that was a lot faster than a typical OUA game,” said head coach Rick Osborne. “Their coach said to me that we’re by far the fastest competition they’ve faced so far and that was a tremendous compliment coming from him.”

The Chinese team has been playing teams from Ontario to prepare for the Vancouver Olympics and got all they could handle from their university competition as the Hawks not only kept up with China, but oftentimes dominated the play.

“We knew they were going to be fast and a couple of them definitely had some good hands,” said goalie Liz Knox. “But our speed was really well matched with them and our defence played the body really well and really didn’t give them anything.”

“The pace was really good out there,” added Osborne. “And I thought that we really set it for at least two of the three periods.”

The Hawks received goals from veteran Heather Fortuna and highly touted rookie Candace Styles while forward Zhang Ben and the team’s star player Sun Rui scored for the Chinese.

The international competition was nothing new for Hawks’ captain Andrea Ironside, who played many of the Chinese players when she represented Canada in last year’s Winter Universiade.

“It was definitely similar in the sense that they had very dynamic speed,” said Ironside, comparing this Chinese team to the one she faced last year. “They always come to play, they have some very skilled players and their top two lines are phenomenal.”

Team China isn’t the only higher competition the Hawks have faced this pre-season. Last week they played two National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division One teams in Robert Morris and Ohio State; after the China game, they played a pair of Ontario all-star teams.

“This is the time of the season where you have to overload and getting physically ready should take precedent over the outcome,” said Osborne.

“Obviously we’d like to win all the time, but right now the physical process is the most important part as we get ready for the season.”

The Hawks open their season with a six-game road trip that starts this Friday in London against the Western Mustangs.