Women’s hockey 5-1-0 despite inconsistency

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Something’s missing.

Stepping into Waterloo Recreational Complex Thursday night, there was no doubt there was a game being played. It was the same atmosphere and the purple and gold were still skating feverishly from one end of the ice to the other. They even won their fourth straight game.

But it just wasn’t the same as that Laurier Golden Hawks team that dominated the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) league merely a year ago.

“It’s not quite us yet,” women’s hockey head coach Rick Osborne said. “The new players, a couple of them are doing absolutely great. And there’s a couple of rookies that are learning on the job.”

The Hawks defeated the visiting York Lions Thursday 3-2 in a shootout, where veteran Candice Styles beat Lions netminder Megan Lee.

After having a two-goal lead, the Hawks allowed the Lions to come back in the last seven minutes, leading to a tight overtime period that featured the styles of Lee versus Laurier starter Erika Thunder.

Thunder stopped 32 of 34 shots she faced, plus all three shots during the shootout.

And although Thunder was able to hold the Hawks within the grasp of another win, Osborne critiqued the structure of his team.

“I would say we have two or three players playing pond hockey and that doesn’t fit with us,” he said. “I still think there’s a few players that aren’t paying attention to the structure that’s in our program.”

After opening their season with a 7-2 loss to the hands of the Western Mustangs— the same team they faced in the OUA final last year— the Hawks were forced to rebound against the Windsor Lancers the following night.

They delivered with an easy 2-0 victory. But the same adversity they faced that night came back to haunt them when they let the Lions crawl back to tie their home opener.

“Our team’s psyche is not good when we face diversity like the first game against Western,” Osborne said. “It was like, ‘oh my god it’s the end of the world.’”

Osborne said that his team will have to be a lot tougher, finishing plays not getting stuck with three players on the back check.

Friday night, the Hawks found their niche when they dominated the UOIT Ridgebacks 4-0. Thunder recorded her second shutout of the season within six games.

They will now travel up the street to play the Waterloo Warriors at Columbia Ice Field Arena Friday at 7:30 p.m.

And as Laurier moves forward to try to repeat last year’s record and capture their ninth OUA championship in ten years, Osborne’s focus will be to get this team back to where it should be.

“It’s not the Golden Hawks yet. But it will be.”

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