Hawks win 11th OUA championship in school history in 2-0 win

(Photo by Heather Davidson)

(Photo by Heather Davidson)

They laid it all on the ice.

The Wilfrid Laurier women’s hockey team came out Sunday evening in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) final with nothing but a gold medal in their minds, and they succeeded in achieving their goal with a dominant 2-0 win over the Queen’s Gaels in game three.

“I’m so proud of these girls right now,” rookie goaltender Amanda Smith said. “I couldn’t think of a better group of girls to spend this with. They were laying everything on the line. You know what, we wanted it and we just did everything we could and we were laying our bodies out there. It’s just amazing.”

Laurier, who lost game one of the series 2-1 in overtime, came back to win game two 2-0 in Kingston to bring the series back home.

And in an outstanding defensive effort on all fronts and a formidable performance by rookie Smith, the Hawks claimed their 11th provincial championship in program history.

“It feels amazing. We’ve had such a history with Queen’s so it feels extra special,” fifth-year forward Devon Skeats said.

The Hawks began the game a little over zealous and almost gave up an early goal as the Gaels came out firing. But Smith shut the door on several occasions to keep it scoreless.

Skeats flew around the ice, creating chances and poking the puck away at every possibility. Skeats created a big chance for Laurier midway through the frame when she sped through two defenders, but couldn’t get the shot off on Gaels’ fifth-year netminder Mel Dodd-Moher.

After the first, the game remained scoreless.

However, the second was a different story. The Hawks came out firing, putting on the pressure and allowing little to no chances for the Gaels. Midway through the frame, Skeats crashed the net and Danelle Im put in the rebound in a crowded crease around Dodd-Moher to put the Hawks up 1-0.

Just 45 seconds later, Laurier widened their lead to two when Emily Kekewich follow in Skeats’ footsteps, crashing the net and put the puck past Dodd-Moher.

And that’s all that was needed. For the remaining 30 minutes of play, the Hawks put on a solid defensive effort. Smith came up big on a perfect opportunity in the middle of the slot to keep her shutout alive.

The opportunities the Gaels had were shut down by Smith.

Head coach Rick Osborne kept his team cycling 15 to 20 second shifts, keeping four and half lines rolling for fresh legs on the ice.

Fourth-year captain Laura Brooker laid her body on the line again, as she blocked shots, took hits and created turnovers for the Hawks.

“I’m feeling great right now, tomorrow will be a different story. Right now, I feel on top of the world, and tomorrow I’ll deal with the pains I have,” Brooker laughed.

And with time winding down on the clock, the Hawks solidified their second shutout of the series and won their 11th championship.

Skeats was named player of the game and Smith was named MVP for the OUA championship series.

First-year Jacky Normandeau also captured her second OUA championship in one year after winning the OUA women’s soccer championship in November.

And the Hawks’ season isn’t over, as they head to Fredericton, New Brunswick in two weeks to take part in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championships.

“I need to get back into the room and get them refocused and frame the next two weeks for them. We did everything we could to prepare for this game, but I have a two-week plan in place also,” Osborne smiled. “We need to enjoy the moment and feel really good. We beat a hell of a team down there. … And now we have to get ready for the next task at hand, which is getting ready for our first shift at nationals.”

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