Women’s hockey drops game one of national championship

(Photo by Shelby Blackley)
(Photo by Shelby Blackley)

FREDERICTON, N.B — Keep moving forward.

That is just what the Wilfrid Laurier women’s hockey team needs to do after their opening game of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships.

A 4-1 loss against the RSEQ finalists McGill Martlets put the Hawks behind on their search for the gold medal.

So when head coach Rick Osborne called a timeout in the final minutes of the game, it was just to tell them to keep going.

“I just wanted to remind our team, we need to leave today’s game with our head high,” Osborne said. “There’s still a lot of stuff on the table, there’s medals to be won, there’s also still another game for each team,” he said. “I just wanted to get them refocused, get their heads high and make sure they’re ready to come back tomorrow.”

“He’s just trying to encourage us to keep forward and play our game,” fifth-year forward Devon Skeats, who was also named player of the game, said.

In the first, a flurry of penalties hit the Hawks as they were penalized five times, while McGill only suffered two. This resulted in an early goal for McGill by Kelsie Moffatt and a steep hill for the Hawks. Laurier spent the majority of the period on the penalty kill, and opened up the second with 45 seconds of a penalty still left. But the Martlets jumped on a break and Gabrielle Davidson put a beautiful shot past Amanda Smith from her backhand to widen the lead.

“I thought that faceoff to start the second period was a real killer for us. It was a back breaker,” Osborne said.

It would stay 2-0 for the remainder of the period with Laurier adding pressure on a few occasions and catching up in shots. However, nothing would get past second-year Taylor Hough, McGill’s goaltender. The Hawks had an opportunity on a rare five-on-three, but despite multiple opportunities, nothing came of it.

The nail in Laurier’s coffin came six minutes into the final frame when Davidson would send another beautiful backhand into the net to put the Martlets up 3-0. But Laurier responded with a tally of their own from Tammy Freiburger, but it wasn’t enough for the Hawks to climb back. McGill would add another in the final minute to round out the scoring.

Special teams were a major factor in the game, as McGill scored three of their goals with the man advantage, including the first two goals.

With the first game coming as a loss, it is hard for the Hawks to secure a place in the gold medal game. Depending on the result tomorrow and the results Saturday, there’s still a chance for a bronze medal game.

But like the Hawks know — keep moving forward.

“This team will regroup,” Osborne said. “I know we’ve got a formidable foe in Moncton, but win or lose we will not quit playing hard until they tell us to stop.”

Game two for Laurier will be Friday at 2 p.m. Atlantic time and 1 p.m. eastern time.

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