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Women's Hockey
Hawks Advance To OUA Final; Nationals
Laurier: 2 OUA Semi Final - Guelph: 1

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ST. CATHARINES - For the third consecutive season, the Women’s Hockey team will advance to the OUA Gold Medal game and the CIS Championships with a gritty 2-1 victory over the Guelph Gryphons.

The opening period started with both teams exchanging power-play opportunities looking to score, but to no avail. The Gryphons got another crack on the power-play and came away with a 1-0 lead. 9:36 into the period Elysia Desmiers’s shot deflected off the stick of a diving Laurier defender and then floated over the shoulder of Morgan Wielgosz on the top left corner. The Hawks would answer with the equalizer nine minutes later, Diana Cicchillo fired the initial shot, and Candace Djukic recovered the rebound and flipped the puck over outstretched Gryphons netminder Aleisha Lusk to tie the game at 1-1 heading into the first intermission. The Hawks and Gryphons were tied at the end of one period with 10 shots a piece.

A much more energized Golden Hawk team came out in the second maintaining offensive zone control for the majority of the period. Laurier also succeeded at firing more shots at Lusk, out-shooting Guelph 10-3 in the period. It was starting to look like the Hawks would not solve Lusk in the period, but with 42-seconds left in the period a Lauren Meschino wrist shot deflected off a skate in front and beat Lusk to give Laurier the 2-1 lead.

The Gryphons came out strong early in the third period with a couple scoring chances. A shot from a Guelph player hit the post, which shot out to another open Gryphon but Wielgosz slid across to make a big save to maintain the one goal lead. After that flurry early in the period the Gryphons could not mount any consistent scoring chances thanks to the strong defensive play of Player of the Game Ashley Stephenson. Both goaltenders were outstanding, Wielgosz making 22 saves in the victory and Lusk with 23 saves in the losing cause.

The top two line combinations of Lauren Barch, Andrea Ironside, Fiona Aiston and Diana Cicchillo, Candice Djukic, and Laurissa Kenworthy were effective in manufacturing scoring opportunities all game.

Head Coach RICK OSBORNE talked about the team’s third consecutive national championship appearance upon defeating Guelph. "It’s a huge relief, the top four seeds advanced into the final four. So we have to be honest, any team was capable of beating any team this weekend and there could’ve been an upset. The third seed beat the second and we’ve proven year after year that we can win the close games and we can win the blowouts, so this was a gritty effort and (Guelph) played awfully tough today."

The Golden Hawks will now face the Toronto Varsity Blues tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. at the Seymour-Hannah Sportsplex in the Gold Medal game. This is a fitting final, as the past seven seasons either Toronto or Laurier have been champions of the OUA. Win or lose, the Women will compete in the CIS National Championships next weekend in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
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1. Manitoba (1)
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7. Guelph (7)
8. Queen's (8)
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As of Feb. 13, 2018
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