5th year forward Devon Skeats is poised for a big season as she enters her final year with Laurier (Photo Credit: Adam Gagnon)
WATERLOO, Ont. (October 4, 2013) - After a season in which they did not win the OUA Championship for just the second time in the last 10 years, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women's hockey team has their sights set on recapturing the conference banner as they kick off their 2013-14 season on Friday night against the Windsor Lancers.
The 2012-13 season ended in heartbreak for Laurier after a year in which the team was pushed by the rest of the conference like never before. Although the purple and gold still captured top spot in the OUA after the regular season, they had plenty of company pushing them all year. Three other teams finished within five points of the Hawks, including the Western Mustangs who would eliminate Laurier in a tough three-game series last February.
Following the season, graduation hit the Hawks hard as five players left the program after earning their degrees. Included in that group were captain Fiona Lester, fellow defenceman Maureen Mommersteeg and forwards Brittany Crago, Paula Lagamba and Caitlin Muirhead. The loss of much of their veteran leadership left a hole in Laurier's lineup but head coach RICK OSBORNE
was prepared. The Hawks' bench boss went out and added eight recruits to his squad, a group he hopes will help Laurier not only recapture the provincial championship, but once again compete for a national title.
Joining Laurier for this year are four fowards, three defencemen and a goaltender. Up front, Dollee Meigs
of Owen Sounds, Ont., Heather Platt
of Mississauga, Ont., Jessica Prevette
of Mississauga, Ont., and Michelle Quick
of Bradford, Ont., will provide a nice mixture of size and skill to the Hawks. On the blueline, Montana Merante
of Orangeville, Ont., Jacky Normandeau
of Uxbridge, Ont., and Catie Thomson
of St. Catharines, Ont., will help anchor a strong defensive core while goaltender Amanda Smith
of Burlington, Ont., will challenge for playing time all season long.
These eight players join a group that features a number of talented players, starting off with new team captain Laura Brooker
of Fergus, Ont. Brooker, who last season became just the fourth Golden Hawk to score 50 goals in their career, has never scored fewer than 14 goals in a season and is consistently among the league-leaders in offensive production. Look for her to once again leader Laurier's offence and demonstrate why she was selected to represent Team Canada at the 2013 FISU Winter Games in Italy.
Other players to watch among the returning forwards are Tammy Freiburger
of Wingham, Ont., and Devon Skeats
of Whitby, Ont. Freiburger has been a point per game player over her last two seasons while Skeats has seen her offensive numbers increase each of her first four seasons, culminating with a 12 goal and 20 point effort last year.
One name who has the potential to be a big player for Laurier this season is transfer Megan Howe
of Stratford, Ont. A red-shirt in 2012-13 after leaving Oswego State in the NCAA, Howe has been very good for Laurier in the preseason and could very well be difference maker during the course of the year.
On the back end, Candice Styles
of Orangeville, Ont., returns for her fifth and final season and will be expected to lead Laurier's defencemen with the help of third year defender Haley Baxter
of Waterloo, Ont. However, they will have more veteran help thanks to the return of third year blueliner Blair Connelly
of Amherstburg, Ont. Connelly rejoins Laurier after taking the year off last season and those three will combine to provide veteran leadership to the young defencemen.
In goal, rookie Smith earned the starting job out of camp thanks to a strong performance that saw her post a 1.00 goals against average and a 0.970 save percentage. However, incumbent Kayla Brown
of Lively, Ont., will push for playing time after posting strong numbers (2.01 GAA and 0.915 SV%) in her rookie season.