WATERLOO, Ont. (February 19, 2014) - The No. 4 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women's hockey team continues their march towards another OUA Championship on Wednesday night when they welcome the No. 7 Toronto Varsity Blues to the Waterloo Recreation Complex for Game 1 of their OUA Semifinal best-of-three series.
The Hawks, the second seed in the OUA, enter this series following a 2-0 OUA Quarter-final series sweep of the UOIT Ridgebacks. Laurier won the opening game 3-1 on home ice before surviving a wild Game 2 in which they survived a three-goal comeback by the Ridgebacks before winning 5-4 in double overtime.
As for the Varsity Blues, the third seed in the OUA, they had a more difficult time in their quarter-final series against the Western Mustangs. Toronto needed triple overtime in Game 1 to post a series-opening victory before losing Game 2 on the road. In Game 3 back on their home ice, the Varsity Blues needed double overtime before finally dispatching of the Mustangs.
Laurier has received some outstanding performances so far in the 2014 playoffs. Three players have recorded three points through the Hawks first two games, led by team captain Laura Brooker
of Fergus, Ont., who has a goal and two assists. Fellow forward Robyn Degagne
of North Bay, Ont., and defencemen Blair Connelly
of Amherstburg, Ont., have matched their captains output to this point.
However, perhaps the most positive sign for the purple and gold has been the play of centre Megan Howe
of Stratford, Ont. The NCAA transfer struggled to score during the regular season, finding the back of the net just twice, but has already matched that number in the playoffs, scoring once in each of the Hawks first two games.
Across the ice, the Brind'Amour-McClure sisters of Waterdown, Ont., have been difference makers for Toronto. Accounting for 50 percent of their teams points in the opening round, Courtney Brind'Amour-McClure is tied for the league lead in playoff scoring with five points, all assists, while Alie Brind'Amour-McClure has scored a playoff-best four goals.
In goal, Amanda Smith
of Burlington, Ont., started both games against UOIT but was relieved in Game 2 by Kayla Brown
of Lively, Ont. After posting strong numbers during the regular season, it is expected that head coach RICK OSBORNE
will return to Smith in goal against Toronto.
For Toronto, there is no question who their number one netminder is as Nicole Kesteris of Aurora, Ont., posted a 1.49 goals against average and 0.934 save percentage against Western.
This series marks the first time that Laurier and Toronto have met in the playoffs since the 2007-08 OUA Championship series. In that meeting, the Hawks pulled off a two-game sweep winning Game 1 2-1 in overtime and Game 2 1-0.
Game 2 of this series is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 21 at Varsity Arena in Toronto and will be webcast on GoBlues.tv
. Game 3, if necessary, will be back at the Waterloo Recreation Complex on Sunday, February 23 at 7:30 p.m. and will be webcast live on Hawk TV