Women’s hockey advances to OUA final against Queen’s Gaels

(Photo by Heather Davidson)

(Photo by Heather Davidson)

Last year, the Wilfrid Laurier women’s hockey team knew all too well what being eliminated in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) semifinals felt like.

The Hawks lost game three of the semifinals last year to the Western Mustangs and were eliminated without a chance at the championship.

But this year, the Hawks weren’t about to let it happen again, as Laurier defeated the Toronto Varsity Blues 2-1 in game three to take the series and move on the OUA final.

“I’m very proud of our vets,” head coach Rick Osborne said. “They learned a tough lesson last year in game three against Western and that’s what we were focused on today. What an opportunity to show what we learned from last year and what an opportunity for new kids to start making some history here at Laurier.”

“Last year, we lost in the semis in game three and that wasn’t fun,” Laurier forward Jessie Hurrell said. “All of the vets this year wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again and it seemed like deja vu almost, so we made sure that didn’t happen.”

Laurier got themselves in a hole early however, as Toronto would find the board first on a powerplay goal from Sonja Weidenfelder.

It wasn’t until there was less than six minutes left in the first when the Hawks had a chance on the powerplay to even it up. Blair Connelly sent a shot flying from the point and it deflected off a Toronto defender’s food before going past Nicole Kesteris.

The score would stay deadlocked during the second period, but the entertainment would not falter. The Hawks and Blues went back and forth, with players flying all over the ice, stopping shots left and right.

With seconds left in the second period, Toronto had a powerplay opportunity. However, Laurier captain Laura Brooker blocked three consecutive shots, sacrificing her body, to send the game tied going into the third.

And it didn’t take long for the Hawks to break Kesteris. Laurier’s Tammy Freiburger beat Toronto’s goaltender on a tip to put the Hawks up with a chance for redemption.

And despite a few breaks for Toronto, rookie goaltender Amanda Smith stood on her head and Laurier implemented a defensive strategy to hang onto their lead and take the series.

Laurier will now take on the Queen’s Gaels in the OUA final, with game days and times to be determined. Laurier will have home ice advantaged in the series.

“It means a whole lot … [Queen’s is] built the same way we are. It’s going to be one tough, physical series,” Osborne said.

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