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(Photo Credit: Adam Gagnon)
(Photo Credit: Adam Gagnon)
PREVIEW: WHKY opens playoffs vs UOIT
WATERLOO, Ont. (February 11, 2014) - The No. 4 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women's hockey team will begin their hunt for their 11th OUA Championship when they kick off their OUA Quarter-final series this week against the UOIT Ridgebacks.

Game 1 of the series will be hosted by the Golden Hawks on Wednesday, February 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Waterloo Recreation Complex. Tickets for the game can be purchased at tickets.laurierathletics.com.

Laurier, the second seeded team following the regular season, finished the year with an 18-3-3 mark while the Ridgebacks, the seventh seed in the conference, were 13-10-1.

For the Golden Hawks, the 2013-14 season has been one of transition for the program. On most nights this season, the purple and gold have dressed seven rookies in their lineup which has meant many teaching moments for Head Coach RICK OSBORNE and his coaching staff over the course of the year. However, despite the youth of the team, the Hawks still managed an impressive 39 points during the regular season while leading the league in goal scoring with 85 tallies and finishing third in goals against at 46.

It has been both veterans and youth that helped the Hawks finish second in the OUA this season. Team Captain Laura Brooker of Fergus, Ont., who became the sixth Golden Hawk to reach 100 points for a career this season, led the team with 26 points, good for eighth overall in the conference. Three other veteran players, including Tammy Freiburger of Wingham, Ont., who led the team in goals with 13, and fifth year players Devon Skeats of Whitby, Ont., and Candice Styles of Orangeville, Ont., all eclipsed 20 points on the year.

However, youth has also been well represented during the year with every rookie playing a significant role over the course of the campaign. Of note, forward Jessica Prevette of Mississauga, Ont., who joined Freiburger and Robyn Degagne of North Bay, Ont., to form one of the Hawks most potent offensive lines, finished fourth in rookie scoring with 16 points. As well, rookie netminder Amanda Smith of Burlington, Ont., expected to be Laurier's starter during the playoffs, was third in the league in save percentage at 0.936 and fourth in wins (11) and goals against average (1.63).

In the Ridgebacks, the Hawks face a team that has been very streaky over the course of the season. After opening up a perfect 4-0, UOIT proceeded to win just four of the next 12 games and looked to be in danger of missing the playoffs before reeling off four straight wins late in the year to clinch their second consecutive playoff berth.

The Ridgebacks boast two potent offensive threats at forward in Jaclyn Gibson of Cobourg, Ont., and Jill Morillo of Whitby, Ont. The two players combined to score nearly 40 percent (24 of 61) of their team's goals in 2013-14 and will be key players the Hawks will need to focus on shutting down.

In goal, rookie Tori Campbell of Lethbridge, Alta., will be the expected starter for UOIT. She posted a 10-5-1 record with a 1.54 goals against average and a 0.932 save percentage.

This series marks the first time that these two teams have ever met in the playoffs after the Ridgebacks joined the OUA back in the 2007-08 season. Laurier has dominated the all-time series against UOIT, winning all 19 meetings and outscoring the Ridgebacks 100-16. This season, the teams met on two occasions with Laurier win 5-4 on the road and 6-0 on home ice.

Games 1 and 3 of the quarter-final series will be webcast on Hawk TV while Game 3, if necessary, will also be available on RadioLaurier.com.
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