Laurier’s women’s hockey team claims top spot in the OUA

Women's hockey defeated Waterloo 3-1 Thursday night. (Photo by Madeline Turriff)
Women’s hockey defeated Waterloo 3-1 Thursday night. (Photo by Madeline Turriff)

The Wilfrid Laurier women’s hockey team hosted the Waterloo Warriors in the second matchup of the battle of Waterloo this year. The second-place Hawks were one point away from passing Queen’s and capturing first place in the conference.

Waterloo was coming off a loss in Toronto and was looking to bounce back, being shut out their past two games.

And with a strong opening period and strong goaltending, the Hawks came away with the 3-1 win.

Laurier got on the board early with a rocket top shelf from the point from defenceman Candice Styles two minutes into the first period.

“I’ve never really been on a winning team. To come into a school like Laurier and to play for a team like this, it’s awesome,” rookie goaltender Amanda Smith shared about her experience playing on the team. “All the vets have been so good to us, they’re there for us every step of the way, it’s been unreal.”

The first period saw Laurier extend their lead to three, with goals scored by forward Tammy Freiburger and left-winger Devon Skeats.

In the middle of the second period, Laurier ran into some penalty trouble when they were faced with two 5-on-3 situations, but strong defence, team effort and solid goaltending from Smith kept the shutout intact.

While killing the second 5-on-3, centre Robyn Degagne put in a solid effort in blocking a shot while Smith was out of place to keep the puck out of the net.

“Those two 5-on-3s were really key kills in the second period, and when you get a player like Degagne who just goes out to the point. She took that right off the ankle,” head coach Rick Osborne said.

“She was injured but she toughed it out to give us our four lines and she even killed penalties in the third period. So it was just a courageous play for her, and we’ve got luckily some courageous players who block shots and pay the price on the penalty kill.”

“Our penalty kill has been great all year,” Smith added. “We got forwards who throw themselves in front of the puck, we got D who throw themselves in front of the puck. We’re just all working together trying to block shots.”

The Hawks stayed solid for the third period, trying to keep the shutout intact, but the Warriors came back strong with renewed passion.

The Warriors made some key plays, took chances and opportunities, and managed to score a goal in the dying seconds of the third period. But it was not enough as the Hawks prevailed, winning the game 3-1.

Waterloo’s goal halted an over 360-minute scoreless drought against the Hawks.

The win marks seven straight wins in a row, and pushed Laurier past Queen’s to take first place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West standings.

When asked what she thought was the leading contributor to their success thus far, Smith shared, “Honestly, Styles has been the best offensive D, the best defensive D, she’s been great for us this year, on and off the ice.”

Styles, with five goals and seven assists in the past 13 contests, remains the top defender on the Laurier team and a key asset to their success. She also sits atop defenders in the OUA for points.

Laurier continues their campaign Saturday afternoon when they face off against the York Lions.

Puck drops at 3 p.m. at the Waterloo Recreational Complex.

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