Women’s hockey still perfect
The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks’ women’s hockey team continued to exert their dominance over the rest of Ontario in their first two games of the new year as they defeated the York Lions and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues to improve their record to 17-0.
“I really couldn’t have asked for anything better than York and Toronto coming out the break,” said head coach Rick Osborne. “They both played well at the Concordia tournament [over the break] and they’re both on their way up in the standings. I think the mental aspect of the game always suffers when you have a layoff and these games really got us going again.”
The Hawks showed no signs of a holiday hangover on Saturday night where they came away with a 5-1 win over the Lions, who are ranked third in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) standings. Leading the way for the purple and gold were rookie sensation Candice Styles and team captain Andrea Ironside, who each contributed a pair of goals to the victory.
“Against York I thought we saw a really big, well-conditioned team,” said Osborne. “But thanks to our speed, in the end I think they finally ran out of gas.”
On Sunday night, the Hawks ran into a hot goalie in the Blues’ Kendyl Valenta.
The second-year faced a 38-shot barrage and turned aside all but one, but that wasn’t enough to give her team the win.
Fourth-year Lix Knox was terrific in the Laurier net once again, recording her OUA-leading 10th shut-out of the season, securing the 1-0 win.
Veteran forward Kaley Powers scored the lone goal of the game, giving her nine on the season – good enough for the team lead. Powers has emerged as an offensive power this season, making up for some of the scoring lost with the graduation of star forward Lauren Barch.
“Everyone on this team is so easy to work with. No matter who you’re on the ice with there’s someone there to support you and give you chances to put the puck in the net,” said Powers. “Everybody’s contributing from top to bottom whether it’s on the scoreboard, winning battles or creating chances, everyone’s been terrific all season.”
This is the second consecutive season in which the Hawks have received the 17-0 mark after going 26-1 last year, not losing until the final game of the season.
In the past six years, the purple and gold have only lost nine regular season games on their way to six straight provincial titles. Quite simply, this team owns the OUA.
“We definitely get a lot of good challenges from the OUA but the depth of this team is what sets us apart,” said Osborne. “This team is just so deep and so fast that we feel comfortable with virtually any player on the ice in any situation.”
Despite their success within Ontario, the Hawks have been forced to settle for the silver medal at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship for the past two years and they won’t be satisfied until they can recapture the glory of the 2004-05 season and win CIS gold.
“Everyone this year is on the same page; we’re all here for one common goal and we all work towards it every time we show up to the rink,” said Powers. “We all know that the ultimate goal is to finally go the whole way and win nationals this year.”
The number-two nationally ranked Hawks will look to remain undefeated this weekend when they host a pair of games against their cross-town rivals from the University of Waterloo.