Laurier takes a decisive game one against the Varsity Blues

(Photo by Heather Davidson)
(File photo by Heather Davidson)

Despite being outshot during the first half of the game, the Wilfrid Laurier women’s hockey team was able to capture a 4-1 win in game one of the best-of-three semifinal series against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. Much of that momentum came from Laurier left-winger Devon Skeats who was able to score three goals, including the game winner.

While it was a quiet first period in terms of scoring, the Varsity Blues provided a significant amount of pressure in Laurier’s end, outshooting them 15-8. Two late penalties by Laurier in the first gave U of T a 5-on-3 opportunity at the beginning of the second.

But, according to Laurier head coach Rick Osborne, the Hawks had to make adjustments between the periods to gain the momentum later in the game.

“They had surprisingly very quick legs in the first period, so that kind of surprised us a bit,” said Osborne regarding Toronto’s late arrival to the game, resulting in a delay in the puck drop. “[But] I thought the [Jessie] Hurell and Skeats line was a real catalyst to get us jump started us in the second period. The first five minutes they continued to outplay us, but that line really had a shift.”

He added, “From there that seemed to pick up the bench and all of sudden we slowly started to get the momentum.”

With about six minutes left in the second, Skeats planted herself in front of the U of T net and scored the first goal of the game. Emily Kekewich would add to the one-goal lead early in the third, with Skeats scoring a quick one later in the period as well grabbing the empty net goal.

“[Skeats] can be a little over anxious in the playoffs, but I’m really proud of the way she’s taken a step back and is thinking her way through the game now,” Osborne said about Skeats and her performance so far. “She’s using her speed exactly where we want to her to use it.”

“My line mates played awesome, we were doing a great job tonight. They gave me energy, we fed off we each other and we got the job done,” explained Skeats.

The Varsity Blues, however, did apply more pressure towards the end of the third, capturing a goal just before the halfway point of the period.

Rookie goaltender Amanda Smith got the start in net for Laurier and made 30 saves on 31 shots. After being pulled in the last game of the series against the the UOIT Ridgebacks, Osborne said this was quite the “bounce back” for the Laurier netminder.

Osborne said that Laurier is going to keep their focus and hope for more success in game two this Friday at Varsity Arena. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re just going to try to be even better in game two,” said Osborne.

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