WATERLOO, Ont. (October 2, 2014) - The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s hockey team officially kicks off their season on Thursday night as they host their conference opener against the Nipissing Lakers at the Waterloo Recreation Complex.
Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Golden Hawks enter the 2014-15 campaign as the defending OUA Champions after defeating the Queen’s Gaels 2-1 in a thrilling best-of-three series last March. This marks the ninth time in the last 11 years that Laurier has come into a year as the defending OUA gold medalists. Despite the run of success, the OUA has become widely known as the toughest women’s hockey conference in the country, with four teams ranked in the Top 10 at the end of last season. With so much talent across the league, the Hawks will face a stiff test as they look to repeat as champions for the first time since their run of seven straight between 2003-04 and 2009-10.
This year’s version of the purple and gold will feature a relatively young lineup as head coach RICK OSBORNE will ice a squad featuring 12 players in their first or second year of eligibility. However, by no means are the Hawks lacking in experience as a pair of fifth year players promise to be anchors for Laurier.
Headlining the veteran leadership core are team captain Laura Brooker of Fergus, Ont., and fellow fifth year forward Tammy Freiburger of Wingham, Ont. The two players are two of the best to ever suit up for Laurier as Brooker ranks fifth all-time in team career scoring with 107 points while Freiburger sits 12th with 84 career points. Both Brooker and Freiburger will be looked upon by coach Osborne to lead this team by example as they make another run at the Judy McCaw Memorial Trophy.
Joining them up front are a strong mix of talent and size that will make Laurier a difficult matchup for any team. Fourth year centres Megan Howe of Stratford, Ont., and Jessie Hurrell of Palgrave, Ont., will anchor the Hawks down the middle , along with third year centre Robyn Degagne of North Bay, Ont. On the wings, second year player Dollee Meigs of Owen Sound, Ont., brings an element of speed to the Hawks’ attack while Jessica Prevette of Mississauga, Ont., will provide size and scoring.
Two new faces join the Hawks forward group in 2014-15, highlighted by incoming recruit Katia Piccoli of Richmond Hill, Ont., who like Prevette, will be a big body presence for the purple and gold in the slot and along the boards.
On the blueline, fourth year veterans Haley Baxter of Waterloo, Ont., and Blair Connelly of Amherstburg, Ont., provide Laurier with options both offensively and defensively. They will be joined by three second year defenders in Montana Merante of Orangeville, Ont., Catie Thomson of St. Catharines, Ont., and Jacky Normandeau of Uxbridge, Ont. All three players played key minutes for coach Osborne a year ago and will be expected to do so again this season.
In goal, Amanda Smith of Burlington, Ont., returns as the Hawks number one option between the pipes. Smith is coming off an outstanding season that saw her post an 11-2-2 record with a 1.63 GAA and a 0.936 save percentage. She will be backed up by rookie Nicholle Kovach of Schomberg, Ont., who played with the Aurora Panthers of the PWHL last season.