Hawks women’s hockey heads to OUA finals

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s hockey team didn’t have to wait long for a chance at revenge on the Windsor Lancers.

10 days after the Lancers spoiled the Hawks’ shot at an undefeated record with an overtime win in the final game of the regular season, the teams met in last weekend’s Ontario University Athletics (OUA) semi-finals and the purple and gold swept the best-of-three series, winning game one 6-0 and game two 2-1.

“We were trying to redeem ourselves from that loss at the end of the season,” said Hawks’ captain Andrea Ironside. “That wasn’t the way we wanted to finish our season, especially against a team that we’ve beaten so easily, so [the loss to Windsor] definitely fuelled us.”

Led by a two-goal performance from rookie Candice Styles, the Hawks found their offensive stride in game one, solving Lancers’ goalie Jamie Tessier six times on 29 shots after she made 52 saves on 53 shots in the Lancers’ shocking win to end the regular season.

With the series shifting to Windsor’s smaller ice surface for game two, the contest was a much tighter battle. The teams were deadlocked at one until midway through the third period when Ironside stepped out of the penalty box and scored the eventual game-winner.

“My biggest fear was that our players would think that we just needed to show up and the game would be over,” said Laurier head coach Rick Osborne of game two. “But we got that out of the way in our pre-game meeting and got ourselves focused and I was really pleased with the individual and team motivation level. We knew we were ready to win the series in that game and now we want to get going into the OUA finals.”

The Hawks now move on to the provincial finals, where they will look to tie an OUA record with their seventh straight title. Standing in their way will be the Guelph Gryphons, the team that Laurier defeated in last year’s OUA finals.

“I have a lot of respect for the way Guelph has played us over the past couple of years,” said Osborne. “I’m expecting really tough playoff hockey and I know our players are going to be ready to battle.”

Having finished 22 points behind the Hawks in the regular season, the Gyphons come into this series as substantial underdogs. However, Ironside stresses the importance of not looking past this series.

“[Guelph] came out strong and beat us in game one last year so we’re not looking too far ahead,” she said. “[Moving on to] nationals is a big deal for us, but we know we can’t think about that until we’ve clinched this seventh OUA title first.”

The first game of the best-of-three series will be tomorrow night in Waterloo, with game two following on Saturday afternoon in Guelph. If necessary, game three will be Sunday in Waterloo.

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