Women’s hockey improve to 5-2
Laurier bounces back after loss to Western Saturday
The Wilfrid Laurier University women’s hockey team bounced back from a Saturday loss with a tidy 4-1 win over the Windsor Lancers on Sunday night.
Coming off a defeat at the hands of the Western Mustangs, the team was led by a gutsy performance from second-year goalie Amanda Smith.
The Hawks grabbed control of the game early and did not relinquish it, playing efficient hockey that prevented the physical Lancers team from ever gaining a foothold.
Playing in back-to-back games, Smith put forth a strong performance, stopping 26 of 27 shots sent her way and ensuring their early lead was never threatened. The effort was not lost on her teammates.
“It’s fantastic. Again, back-to-backs are hard, and it’s probably even harder since she’s got more equipment to move in,” said captain Laura Brooker.
“She came out strong, she stopped and blocked everything. She made some great passes, was out of her net and active — she was on point tonight.”
Smith was modest after the game, praising her teammates for their defensive efforts. But she was also conscious of the workload she has taken on.
“Obviously it takes a toll on your body, but when you’re out there you don’t really feel it. It’s when you get home after, and the next day. The adrenaline pushes you through it,” she said.
Laurier’s offence was paced by a two-goal performance from Brooker. After a difficult week of practice, the fifth-year captain mentioned that her three-point showing felt like a weight off her back.
“I’ve had a rough week of practices — it felt like my feet weren’t moving, so it felt great. To be able to come out with a W is the most important thing and get some points,” she said.
Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to Western was a trying one, as there was a frustrating lack of scoring despite a whopping 50 shots on goal from the Hawks. In Sunday night’s game, it took the home team just 16 shots to tally their four goals.
According to coach Rick Osborne, Sunday’s shooting performance means things are trending in the right direction.
“We talked an awful lot about shooting with a purpose, and setting things up,” he said.
”[Brooker and Freiburger] have not been playing like snipers so far. They’ve been pretty focused on the defensive side of their game, and we generally generate more offence than we have.”
“I know I’m looking forward to scoring more goals in the next little while. We’ve had a good start defensively, a slow start offensively, and I just think the law of averages will come around.”
Special teams played an integral role in holding the Lancers at bay. Aggressive, physical play by both teams caused the Hawks to struggle to stay out of the penalty box.
But the Laurier penalty kill stymied the Windsor offence, holding them to a single goal in nine chances. Smith thought her communication with her defenders was the key element to the penalty kill success.
“We’re getting better every day. I find that I have really good communication with our defence, they’re talking to me and I’m talking to them. Everyone’s giving it their all out there — people are laying down the body, blocking shots,” she said.
Osborne also credited the return of valued defenseman Jacky Normandeau as important in the team’s victory.
Despite playing for the women’s soccer team earlier in the day, Normandeau’s cadence calmed the defensive unit and encouraged better play.
“She just doesn’t panic under pressure, she’s a cool customer. Her first pass is absolutely bang-on most of the time, and to the right player.”
The Golden Hawks’ Sunday win moved their Ontario University Athletics record to 5-2, good enough for fourth place in the standings. Their next test comes when they take on a 2-4 Ryerson Rams squad on Nov. 9.
“We’re back to one game next weekend, so it’s on focusing having some good practices, good workouts off the ice and coming out hard for the one game,” Brooker said.
“Just keep our mind on what’s coming up next one game at a time, and just focusing on the process.”