Women’s hockey ready to be back atop the OUA
“When you get that [championship] for the team, words don’t really describe how you feel.” – -Laura Brooker, captain
The Wilfrid Laurier University women’s hockey team is coming into next season with a renewed energy.
After coming off the summer with a disappointing finish at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships, the Hawks enter another season of high expectations and are warming up for another run to recapture the Ontario University Athletics gold medal.
There are three new rookies coming to the team this year.
After watching them play during training camp and seeing the growth of the team’s eight second-year players over the summer, head coach Rick Osborne is positive that the young team will be a force to be reckoned with this year.
“I can certainly mention Catie Thomson did a hell of a job over the summer getting herself in a position to battle for a top-four spot on the [defence]. Her speed’s increased, her strength’s increased, and [I’m] really happy to see how she came to camp,” he said.
“The other rookies, [Dollee] Meigs and [Heather] Platt … they all got stronger.”
According to Osborne, when the team came in with eight rookies last season, they were counted out of the championship due to their youth. However, the Hawks were able to capture the title in 2013-14.
For captain Laura Brooker, winning the championship last year was crucial.
“It always means so much, especially with players that are leaving like [Devon] Skeats and [Candice] Styles,” she said.
“When you get that for them and for the team, words don’t really describe how you feel.”
Recently, Osborne was given a five-year extension onto his contract, securing him with the Hawks until the 2018-19 season.
He has been the manager of hockey operations and the head coach for the team for 11 seasons, winning the OUA championship nine times.
He believed signing the extension was the right thing to do.
“In the recruiting cycle I needed to make a decision. The players that are coming in next year-the players that I brought in last year are expecting me to be around a little more in the year. I take it year by year to see how I’m feeling,” he said.
“I was just enjoying the kids, the high character kids – it’s just so much fun to be around them. They work so hard, it just didn’t seem right to pack it in. I felt like I’ve got a couple more runs left in me.”
The team kicked off their non-conference play against the Waterloo Warriors on Sept. 18.
They won the thrilling game in overtime with a goal by forward Robyn Degagne in the final 11 seconds of the period.
After taking the lead in the second and bringing the score up to 4-1, the Warriors battled back and capitalized on two penalties to tie it up before the buzzer went in the third period. Degagne manged to score before the game went into the shootout for the win.
This year, the Hawks are looking to go for another berth at nationals.
They are going to be looking for a repeat performance from their goaltender Amanda Smith, as well as hope the rest of the team can step up and rise to the occasion.
The team is ready to open up their quest for another OUA title on Oct. 2 as they will be taking on the Nipissing University Lakers at the Waterloo Recreation Complex at 7:30 p.m.