KINGSTON, Ont. (February 21, 2015) - The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s hockey team scored two goals in the final three minutes of the third period as they rallied to defeat the No. 6 Queen’s Gaels 3-2 to sweep their best-of-three OUA Quarter-final series on Saturday night.
Trailing 2-1 and a winner-take-all Game 3 looming, the sixth-seeded Golden Hawks got goals from defencemen Erica Kiviaho of Whitefish, Ont., and Haley Baxter of Waterloo, Ont., as they came-from-behind to eliminate the third-seeded Gaels.
“You’re down to the final three minutes so nothing really changed other than urging our players to keep going to the final buzzer,” said head coach RICK OSBORNE when asked if his team did anything different in the final moments of the game. “The harder you work, the better chance you’re going to get a bounce and that’s what happened. The Kiviaho goal really gave our bench a shot and we were able to use that momentum over the final three minutes, eventually resulting in Baxter’s goal.”
While Kiviaho and Baxter were the eventual heroes for the purple and gold, the best player on the ice during Game 2 may have been fourth year forward Jessie Hurrell of Palgrave, Ont. The Hawks leading scorer during the regular season scored Laurier’s first goal of the contest before setting up both late goals as she finished the contest with three points.
Goaltender Amanda Smith of Burlington, Ont., continued her playoff success against the Gaels as she turned away 27 of the 29 shots she faced on the night to run her win streak against Queen’s in the postseason to four straight games. Her shutout streak against the tricolour during the playoffs was stretched to 228 minutes and five seconds before being ended by Queen’s Danielle Girard of Sarnia, Ont., in the opening period.
Danielle Bishoff of Calgary, also scored for the Gaels as defencemen accounted for four of the five goals the teams combined to score on the night. Queen’s netminder Caitlyn Lahonen of Sharon, Ont., took the loss as she allowed three goals on 27 shots.
In another tightly-contested game between the two best rivals in the OUA, it was the Gaels getting off to the quick start despite losing Game 1 in triple overtime. Midway through the opening period, Queen's got on the board when Girard beat Smith on the powerplay to stake her team to a 1-0 lead.
The advantage would hold into the second period but just a minute and 40 seconds into the middle stanza, Hurrell finished off a pass from co-captain Laura Brooker of Fergus, Ont., to even the game at one.
Knowing their season was on the line, Queen's continued to push and were rewarded thanks to a strange bounce. A point shot from Bishoff hit a Laurier defenceman and deflected up over Smith's shoulder to give the Gaels a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
In the third, the Hawks seemed to have more jump than the Gaels as they looked to create havoc in front of Lahonen. The work would pay off with just under three minutes to play when Kiviaho fired a shot through traffic, beating the screened Queen's netminder to tie the game at two.
Things quickly went from bad to worse for the Gaels as they took only their second penalty of the game less than 30 seconds later and the Hawks went to work with the man advantage.
Going up against the league's worst penalty killing unit for just the third time in the series, Laurier was finally able to capitalize as Baxter's point shot, once again, found its way through traffic, giving the Hawks the lead.
Queen's would pull Lahonen late but to no avail as the Hawks earned the series sweep.
For Laurier, the quarter-final victory over the Gaels keeps their impressive streak of success in the OUA playoffs alive. In the 21-year history of the program, the purple and gold have never failed to advance at least as far as the conference semifinals.
Up next for Laurier, they will face the No. 3 and top-seeded Western Mustangs in the OUA Semifinals. Osborne says that he expects nothing less than another hard-fought series.
“I think we have to give them the respect they deserve and we definitely have to respect their goaltender. It’s been a long time since we faced them so the games we played back in October don’t mean anything now. Like Queen’s, we feel like we have a chance to win and we’re going to give them everything we can throw at them. We’re the underdog but we still have a chance to win.”
The complete schedule for the best-of-three series has yet to be determined. Stay tuned to laurierathletics.com for up-to-date playoff information.