Keeping a short memory
In most situations, if a team wins seven straight championships and then gets upset to have their victory streak snapped, they don’t tend to get a vibe of disrespect from their followers heading into next season.
However, in the very competitive world of Ontario University Athletics (OUA), specifically women’s hockey, that is exactly what can happen, and to a certain extent, is happening to the Laurier Golden Hawks.
After being devastated in the OUA semifinals last season at the hands of the Queens’ Gaels, the Golden Hawks are being somewhat overlooked going into the 2011-2012 season, or at least that is the feeling of the team as the season approaches.
Factoring into the Hawks being overlooked is the graduation of five-year standout and Canadian Interuniversity Sport all-star Liz Knox.
Knox was a brick wall in net for the Golden Hawks, and has taken her success to the national level upon graduation. However, the departure of such a key player does not discourage this year’s squad, according to team captain Abby Rainsberry.
“The departure of Knox is obviously going to make an influence on our team,” said the captain. “But our goalie has had two years of play under Knox and has learned a lot from that [experience] so we are all confident in her and ready to go.”
But simply saying that the team is ready to go is not enough and Rainsberry knows that.
“We are driven. Our dedication is key since we are hardworking and high character,” continued Rainsberry. “We are always willing to do what it takes to get the job done.”
Maybe the reason the team is so driven is because of the memories of last season’s loss on home ice to the underdog Queen’s team.
Rainsberry was on that team, as was the majority of this year’s Hawks, and there is little doubt in their captain’s mind that the painful experience last March in front of friends and family will provide enough motivation for this season.
“It was very heartbreaking for all of us and a lot of the vets on the team remember what it felt like. So we never want to feel that way again and we will face the adversity, and move towards improving and avoiding that feeling.”
While Rainsberry is undoubtedly confident in her team and their ability to be the best in the OUA, she knows that it’s not an easy road to success, especially with such lofty expectations from both themselves and those around them.
“The rest of the league is going to be very competitive this year and we are expecting every team to be coming after us as everyone else is improving as well.”
So while the league is more competitive than ever before, the Golden Hawks have to remain as one of the favorites in the OUA. They are currently ranked second in the CIS, with McGill ranked first.
So with such a high ranking, some may wonder why the team carries such a chip on their shoulder.
“We have high expectation for ourselves” said Rainsberry, “our biggest goal for the season is to get back the OUA title and then move on from there, one game at a time.”
The team plays its first game against the Western Mustangs on at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Thompson Arena in London and then travel to Windsor for a Sunday matinee.