Hawks tie record with seventh straight OUA title

GUELPH, ON — The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s hockey team entered the record books yet again on Saturday afternoon.

Their 2-1 win over the Guelph Gryphons in game two of the best-of-three series gave the purple and gold their seventh consecutive provincial championship, tying the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) record set by the University of Toronto from 1988-94.

“It means an awful lot to me because I have tremendous amount of respect for [Toronto’s] program,” said Laurier head coach Rick Osborne of tying the record. “They established a great program over there and they rattled off seven in a row and now that we can reflect on it, it’s great company to be in.”

This championship-deciding game started as a complete reversal of Thursday night’s series opener. In game one, both goaltenders seemed unbeatable for the first half of the contest, keeping the score 0-0 until mid-way through the second period.

However, in game two both teams managed to find the net in the opening ten minutes of the game, leading to hard-fought, physical match-up the rest of the way.

“Any time a team has their back against the wall, you have to expect their best and they gave it to us today,” said Laurier net minder Liz Knox of the Gryphons’ performance. “They showed us their best and we battled through it one shot at a time, one shift a time. “

Third-year Katherine Shirriff put the Hawks up 1-0 just three minutes into the game, beating Guelph’s Danielle Skoufranis on the power play. However, the Gryphons evened the score just three minutes later when veteran Erin Small deflected a point shot past Knox.

Rookie Devon Skeats would put the Hawks back on top with eight minutes left in the first period, setting the very vocal crowd –which included many Laurier fans- up for an exhilarating final two frames.

The momentum swayed back and fourth through the second and third periods, with Knox and Skoufranis trading key saves to keep their teams in the game, and in the end, the goal from Skeats would prove to be the difference.

“It feels unreal,” said an ecstatic Skeats. “I’ve never won anything like this, and it’s just absolutely incredible, more incredible than I ever thought it would feel.”

“We have a lot of character players in that dressing room and I think today it showed,” added team captain Andrea Ironside. “It was a battle every minute of every period, and I think we showed a lot of heart today.”

Despite the thrilling victory, the Hawks’ work isn’t done. They now move on to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) finals, a tournament at which they’ve taken home the silver medal two years in a row.

“We’ll celebrate tonight, but we do have a lot on our plates, so we’re going to start preparing for what’s next,” said Ironside. “We’re going to take it one day at a time, but I know we’ll be ready to go for the first game no matter who we’re playing. “

The CIS finals will begin this Thursday in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The Hawks still have to wait to see who their first opponent will be, as the representatives from the other conferences are still being determined.

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