Women’s hockey ends semester with shoot-out loss

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s hockey team has a little bit less breathing room atop the provincial standings than usual.

After beating the Guelph Gryphons and losing in a shoot-out to the Brock Badgers in their final two games of the first semester, the Hawks find themselves just three points up on second-place. And who is it that’s breathing down their necks in second spot?

None other than those same Badgers who took a crucial game from the Hawks at the Waterloo Recreation Complex on Saturday night.

“It was a game we were really looking forward to finish off the [first half of] the season,” said Laurier head coach Rick Osborne. “And we had our opportunities, we could have won this game, I don’t think there’s anything to hang our heads about.”

In the Hawks’ first game of the weekend, the purple and gold took a relatively easy game from Guelph, 4-1 on Thursday night. Those Gryphons, however, rank third in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) standings, showing the gap that seems to exist between Laurier and Brock and the rest of the league.

“You could definitely tell it was the top two teams in the league that came out to battle tonight,” said Hawks’ leading scorer Katherine Shirriff of Saturday’s game. “They played well, we played a good second and third period but in the end we just came up short.”

Indicative of the battle between the league’s top teams, the game got a little chippy and aided by a referee who was certainly quick to blow the whistle, the teams combined for 18 penalties, with nine going to each team. Those calls would play a role in the game as Brock’s first-period goal came just as Laurier’s Amber Broker was stepping out of the box, while Shirriff’s second-period tally of came on a Laurier power play.

Osborne, however, wasn’t touching the refereeing issue after the game.

“I don’t think you can really talk about the referee in that game,” he said. “We have to be good on special teams… We had our chances.”

With the game locked at one after three periods and five minutes of overtime, the teams headed for the shoot-out, where Brock’s Jessica Fickell would be the only one to score, sending the purple and gold into the break with two losses on the season, something they haven’t done since 2006.

According to Shirriff, who currently sits third in OUA scoring with 19 points, this loss will only give the Hawks extra motivation when they kick off the second half in January.

“Obviously it’s unfortunate that we ended the first half of the season with a loss,” said the fourth-year centre. “But really it’s just going give everyone all the more reason to come back fresh and excited to play.”