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Lester lifts Hawks into OUA Championship
Laurier: 3 Windsor - OUA Semifinal (Game 3): 1

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WATERLOO, Ont. (February 26, 2012) - On the strength of Fiona Lester's (Peterborough, Ont.) first goal of the playoffs, the No. 1 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks defeated the Windsor Lancers 3-1 on Sunday night at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex to win the best-of-three OUA Semifinal series 2-1.

Lester, a third year defenceman, scored the game-winning goal midway through the second period and less than a minute after the Lancers had tied the game at one. It would go on to stand as the series-clinching goal as the Hawks advance to their 12th OUA Championship appearance in team history.

"This series went just like our season went," said Head Coach RICK OSBORNE following the victory. "Whenever we've needed the next goal, we got it and that was the case tonight [with Lester's goal]."

The Hawks got off to a great start in this one as Paula Lagamba of Toronto, opened the scoring for Laurier just two minutes into the first period when her backhander squeaked through the legs of Windsor netminder Julia Ouroumis of Pickering, Ont. The goal was Lagamba's first of the postseason after she scored 14 during the regular season.

However, Windsor would not be dismayed by the early deficit and matched the Hawks shot-for-shot throughout the period as both teams finished with seven attempts on goal through the first 20 minutes. Laurier, though, would take the 1-0 lead to the dressing room.

The Lancers would be rewarded for their work six minutes into the second period. After Laurier goalie Erika Thunder of Buffalo Point, Man., elected not to play a dump in, Windsor took advantage as Candace Kourounis of Markham, Ont., picked up the loose puck and snuck one under Thunder's arm to knot the game at one.

Just 48 seconds later though, with the Hawks buzzing around Ouroumis, Devon Skeats of Whitby, Ont., centred the puck and Lester fired it into the open cage to restore Laurier's one-goal advantage. The 2-1 score line would hold up heading to the third period.

In the final frame, Laurier would get the all-important insurance marker just five minutes in when Skeats stopped behind the net and reversed the play. She would tuck the puck back around the net, catching Ouroumis out of position, to give the Hawks a two-goal cushion.

"Larry Bogart, our goaltending coach, he picked up in Windsor that when we go behind the net, they [Windsor's defenders] tend to fall in [to the middle of the ice]," said Osborne about the goal. "If we could slam on the breaks and come around the net, we could stuff it in the far side. We talked about it and I told Skeats before the game to use her quickness and she was so quick it was no contest."

The Hawks would shut down the Lancers for the remainder of the game, allowing just four shots to get through to Thunder in the third period. Thunder would finish the contest with 18 saves to earn her fourth win of the playoffs while Ouroumis stopped 25 shots in a losing effort.

Both Skeats and Laura Brooker of Fergus, Ont., led the Hawks with multi-point efforts as Skeats had a goal and an assist while Brooker finished with a pair of helpers.

"I'm personally excited, I think all the girls in the dressing room are, and we're ready for another series," commented Skeats when asked about playing for the OUA Championship. "We learned a lot from these past two series' and were even better now."

Laurier will face the Western Mustangs, the sixth seed in the OUA, for the OUA banner after they defeated the fifth-seeded York Lions 3-0 in Game 3 of their semifinal series on Sunday.

"We're expecting a battle [against Western]," continued Skeats. Clearly they're a pretty fit team but we're ready for them."

Game 1 of the best-of-three series will be played on Wednesday night, February 29, at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex. Game time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the game are available at tickets.laurierathletics.com.
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