Golden Hawks defeat Mustangs to win OUA title
LONDON, Ont. (March 3, 2012) - For the eighth time in nine season, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women's hockey team are OUA Champions after they defeated the Western Mustangs 5-1 on Saturday night to sweep the best-of-three championship series 2-0.
The Golden Hawks, the top-ranked team in the country, used a three goal first period, including two goals in a 19 second stretch before the game was five minutes old, to propel them to the victory.
"It feels amazing to win this championship with this team," said fourth-year team captain Abby Rainsberry following the on-ice celebrations. "We've been through so much this year, we've overcome so much adversity, that I think we've really earned it."
As was the case all post-season, Laurier came flying out of the gates, dominating the Mustangs from the opening puck drop. The Hawks would be rewarded just over four minutes in when Laura Brooker of Fergus, Ont., jumped on a loose puck and beat Western netminder Olivia Ross of Huntsville, Ont., for her second goal of the playoffs.
Just 19 seconds later, off another scramble in front of Ross, Tammy Freiburger of Wingham, Ont., put a backhand shot past Ross to give the purple and gold a quick 2-0 lead.
Laurier would keep the pressure on throughout the frame and before the period was out, rookie forward Danelle Im of Toronto, finished off a great feed from fellow rookie Jessie Hurrell of Palgrave, Ont., to stake the Hawks to a 3-0 advantage. Laurier outshot Western 19-7 in the opening 20 minutes.
"The first period is the one you always have to have to get things going," said Freiburger, whose goal would stand up as the championship-winning tally. "The back-to-back goals were the key to the game."
The second period was much of the same for the Hawks but Ross stood strong, holding her team in the game as she turned aside 18 shots in the period to keep the game at 3-0 heading into the final period.
Western would reward their goaltender just two minutes into the third period when Stacey Scott of London, Ont., found the back of the net past Laurier's Rachel Hamilton of Wasaga Beach, Ont., to give the Mustangs some life, trailing just 3-1.
However, the Golden Hawks were not to be denied the title on this night as a pair of power play goals from Hurrell and Paula Lagamba of Toronto, put the game out of reach and Laurier cruised to their 10th OUA Championship in team history.
"It feels extra special this year, there's no question, after being upset last year in the semifinals," said head coach Rick Osborne after the game. "I was just so proud of our whole team, especially our leaders Rainsberry, [Alicia] Martin, [Katherine] Shirriff and [Fiona] Lester. They were all here last year, so they really led the way. Their character and their stick-to-itiveness all year, they've been pillars of strength."
Hamilton, who got the start in the deciding game in place of number one goaltender Erika Thunder of Buffalo Point, Man., who was out with a knee injury, finished with 21 saves to pick up her first win against OUA competition since a 5-4 over Western on January 7.
Western's Ross stopped 44 shots for the Mustangs in the defeat.
Three Golden Hawks recorded multiple point games in the victory including Freiburger, who finishes tied with Brooker for the team lead with seven points during the championship run, as well as Hurrell and Lagamba.
With the win, the Hawks now advance to the CIS Championship, hosted by the University of Alberta, where they will represent the OUA. Seedings and schedules will be announced on Sunday night so stay tuned to www.laurierathletics.com for complete national championship information.
NOTES: Im and Hurrell both scored their first-career playoff goals in the victory...Laurier finished the game 2-for-6 on the powerplay while the Mustangs went scoreless in six opportunities with the man-advantage...Hawks backup netminder Kristen Kilgallen of Guelph, Ont., dressed for the first time in the playoffs in place of the injured Thunder...for fifth-year seniors Shirriff and Martin, it is the fourth time they have won the OUA Championship during their career...the Mustangs silver medal finish is the best playoff finish in the programs history