WATERLOO, Ont. (February 19, 2015) - The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s hockey team won Game 1 of their best-of-three quarter-final series in thrilling fashion against the No. 6 Queen’s Gaels on Thursday night as they pulled off a 1-0 victory in triple overtime at the Waterloo Recreation Complex.
Tammy Freiburger of Wingham, Ont., a fifth year forward for the purple and gold, was the hero for the Hawks as she banged a loose puck past Queen’s starting goaltender Caitlyn Lahonen of Sharon, Ont., to give Laurier a 1-0 series lead.
“It was really exciting,” said Freiburger after the game about scoring the overtime winner. “I was just in the right place at the right time. Everybody’s working hard the whole time and I just happened to be in the right place.”
The other hero on the night for the Golden Hawks was netminder Amanda Smith of Burlington, Ont. The second year goalie continued her mastery over the Gaels in playoff action as she turned away all 49 shots she faced in 94 minutes and 23 seconds of action.
For Smith, the shutout is her third consecutive in the playoffs against Queen’s after she posted a pair of 2-0 shutouts to help Laurier clinch the OUA Championships last season. Her playoff shutout streak against the Gaels now sits at 214 minutes and 20 seconds.
“That was just falling in line from last year’s series with Queen’s,” said head coach RICK OSBORNE on his starting netminder. “That puck was bouncing all over the place in front of both nets. Both goaltenders were very good and Smitty [Smith] hung in there very, very tough tonight.”
In a series which features the two top scoring teams in the conference this year, the Hawks and Gaels battled it out in a fashion which both teams know they have to play to win an OUA title. Quality scoring chances were few and far between for both squads as each team worked hard to keep the game tight checking.
Throughout regulation time, the two teams were almost identical in every area of the game. Laurier held a slight shot advantage 27-25 but neither team was able to capitalize on their chances as they head to overtime scoreless.
“Anytime two of the highest scoring teams in the league get together, you would normally think I wouldn’t see this coming,” commented Osborne on the style of play during the contest. “But knowing Queen’s, the way they’re coached and how they’re put together, I thought it would be a low scoring affair tonight.”
Late in the first overtime period, Queen’s twice thought they had ended the game. On back-to-back shifts, the Gaels were able to get the puck past Smith but on each occasion the play was blown dead as the net was off its moorings.
Then, just before the buzzer, former Golden Hawk captain Fiona Lester of Peterborough, Ont., flew down the wing and fired a shot on Smith. The Hawks goalie threw out her glove for her best save of the night to send the game into double overtime.
The best chance for either team in the second overtime belonged to the Golden Hawks’ Danelle Im of Toronto. The fourth year forward took a sweet feed from Jessica Prevette of Mississauga, Ont. She looked to deke Lahonen to the backhand but the Gaels netminder stretched out her pad to make an outstanding save.
Coming out for the third overtime, the Hawks seemed to have a little bit more jump than the Gaels as they pushed for the game-winner. Unable to get much traffic in front of Lahonen during the first two extra periods, Laurier crashed the net and were rewarded when a scrambled puck in front of Lahonen slid to Freiburger who fired it into the open side, sending a flock of Hawks onto the ice in celebration.
“We made a slight change [prior to the third overtime],” added Osborne of his strategy going into what turned out to be the final period. “We took Fry [Freiburger] off the top end of the lineup to give her just a little extra rest and hey, she used the rest well.”
With the first game of the series under their belts, the Hawks will travel up to Kingston for Game 2 on Saturday night where they will look to sweep the Gaels. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Kingston Memorial Centre and the game can be seen live on OUA.tv.