Two wins puts Hawks No. 5 in country

(Photo by Nick Lachance)

It certainly wasn’t the way they drew it up, but the Laurier Golden Hawks women’s hockey team came away with four crucial points this past weekend.

Following two come-from-behind wins, one of which ended in overtime, the Hawks improved their record 8-1-1, putting them in a tie with the Queen’s Gaels atop the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) standings. But this first-place season has been anything but smooth.

“I was proud of the way we finished, but I was really upset with the way played, particularly in the second period,” said head coach Rick Osborne following his team’s 4-3 overtime win over the Guelph Gryphons Sunday night.

“We had a few passengers tonight and we’ve had a few passengers all year… There’s two or three players that need to be in better shape and two or three players that need to learn to compete at the level the Golden Hawks are used to.”

Prior to Sunday night’s overtime win, the Hawks overcame an early 1-0 deficit and a rock-solid performance from Brock Badgers goalie Claire Shaw to come away with a 3-2 win. The Hawks fired 45 shots at Shaw, not finding the back of the net until third-year Tammy Freiburger scored 11 minutes into the third period.

The Hawks would then get goals from Haley Baxter and Caitlin Muirhead to come away with the win.

And according to Osborne, it was the veterans on the team that helped the team scrape their way to the win.

“We always knew we had the veteran players, who would never quit,” he said. “You had Muirhead diving into traffic and finding a puck and Freiburger doing the same thing. They really showed that courage and willingness to go to those areas of the ice.”

Sunday’s game against Guelph was once again no walk in the park for the No. 5 nationally ranked Hawks as the Gryphons held two third-period leads before rookie Robyn Degagne scored to tie the game at three with just over a minute left. Freiburger would go on to score the game winner 35 seconds into overtime.

“We needed that one,” said Freiburger of Sunday’s win. “We’re not exactly where we want to be right now, but game after game, we’re kind of growing off of it and pulling through.”

Fiona Lester and Laura Brooker had the other goals for the Hawks Sunday night, while goaltender Erika Thunder stopped 24 of the 27 Guelph shots.

Laurier may sit tied for first in the OUA, but there are a number of teams right on their heels. Four teams sit within five points of first place, and as Brock— who is currently last in the OUA— proved Friday night, even the league’s bottom feeders can pose a challenge to the upper-echelon teams like the Hawks.

“This year is the closest it’s been top to bottom,” said Osborne. “We had a tough game with [ninth-place] Waterloo, we had a tough game with Brock, there’s so many tough teams in this league. There’s really no guaranteed two points.”

The Hawks remain at home this weekend as the Toronto Varsity Blues and Ryerson Rams pay visits on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Game time on Saturday is 3 p.m., while the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

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