WATERLOO, Ont. (February 27, 2015) - The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s hockey team was eliminated from the OUA playoffs on Friday night as they lost Game 2 of their best-of-three OUA Semifinal series 5-4 in double overtime to the Western Mustangs at the Waterloo Recreation Complex.
In what was a wild game that saw four lead changes, Tia Kipfer of Stratford, Ont., was the hero for Western as she deflected home a Katelyn Gosling (London, Ont.) point shot six and a half minutes into the second overtime period to end the season for the purple and gold.
“I thought we bounced back very nicely from game number one,” said head coach RICK OSBORNE after the game. “I think we had them on the ropes earlier but that speaks to the parity in the OUA this year. It’s probably the best parity I’ve seen in awhile. One weird bounce decided the series. Western was the best team during the regular season and they become a great team when their goalie puts on the performances she does. Hats off to them and best of luck to them moving forward representing the OUA [at the CIS Championship].”
The Mustangs also got goals in regulation from Sydney Kidd of Sundridge, Ont., who scored twice, Kendra Broad of Petrolia, Ont., and Casey Rosen of Toronto.
Kelly Campbell of St. Thomas, Ont., picked up the win for Western as she stopped 33 of the 37 shots she faced.
Amanda Smith of Burlington, Ont., took the loss for Laurier as she made 15 saves in relief of rookie Nicholle Kovach of Schomberg, Ont., who made her first career playoff start. Schomberg stopped 12 shots in the game before being replaced by Smith late in the second period.
From the opening minute of play, it was clear that the game was going to be thrilling. Just 23 seconds in, Kidd banged home a loss puck through Kovach to give her team the lead. However, just 17 seconds later, Im scored her first of the contest beating Campbell to quickly even the score at one.
The goal seemed to lift the Hawks as they continued to press the Mustangs defence with their speed. That quickness would result in the second goal as Meigs corralled the puck behind the goal line before beating her defender to the front of the net and backhanding it past Campbell to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.
Four minutes later, Im stole the puck off the Mustangs defence before hurtling a defender at centre ice to break in all-alone on Campbell. She made a quick move to her forward and slid the puck through Campbell’s legs to give her team a 3-1 lead.
“Immer’s got sick hands when she uses them,” commented co-captain Laura Brooker of Fergus, Ont., on the skill of her teammates. “She’s played amazing and I’m so happy to have played with both of those girls. Dollee will become a great player for this team. She’s proved herself since first year so look out for her.”
That lead would carry into the second period but the Mustangs showed they were not going to roll over easy.
The top-ranked team in the OUA during the regular season quickly cut the lead in half as Broad beat Kovach up over the shoulder from the bottom of the faceoff circle making the score 3-2.
Laurier continued to push the pace offensively but it was Western who continued to capitalize on their chances. Five and a half minutes before the end of the second, Kidd roofed her second of the game to tie the contest at three after a loose puck fell to her in the slot. Then, two minutes later, Rosen streaked in down the wing and fired a shot that trickled through Kovach’s arm to give Western a 4-3.
Following the goal, Osborne went back to his Game 1 starter in Smith and the move sparked the purple and gold. Less than a minutes after Rosen’s goal, Freiburger flicked a backhand past Campbell to send the team’s into the dressing room tied at four.
In the third, the two teams settled into the game as neither looked to give up the next goal. The best chances in the third belonged to the Mustangs but Smith stood her ground and for the second time in four games, the Hawks were headed to overtime.
The opening period of extra time belonged to Laurier. They outshot Western 6-1 in the 10-minute period but could not find a way past Campbell.
“I thought the first 10 minutes was our chance to win this game tonight,” said Osborne of the first overtime period. “I thought we really carried the play and the puck was around their net. We had a three-on-two right off the bat that [Jessie] Hurrell just missed finding a space to bury the puck.”
That would prove costly as the Mustangs bounced back in double overtime before finding the winner off the stick of Tipfer, sending Western to the OUA Championship.
With the Hawks season coming to an end, so does the career of some of the best to ever suit up for Laurier. Brooker and Freiburger both played in their final game for the purple and gold and finish as two of the leading scorers all-time in the program. Brooker ends her career ranked second all-time in points with 128 while Freiburger also eclipsed 100 points in her career, finishing with 105.
“Brooker and Freiburger are two of the all-time greats in our school history,” stated Osborne about his two graduating fifth year players. “They went through lots of ups-and-downs with me. You can see how good they are as players, that’s obvious, but they are great people too. I’m proud to call them my friends as they walk out the door here and they’ll be etched in those record books of our program for a long time.”
“Words can’t describe wearing the jersey,” added Brooker on what her career with Laurier has meant to her. “Being captain two years in a row, and being co-captain with [Blair] Connelly, was even better, like a dream come true because we’re both best friends. It was great to be able to do this with her and the team. But every year it’s a new team and they’re my family no matter what.”
Im, as well as forward Megan Howe of Stratford, Ont., also played their final game with Laurier while Hurrell and Erika Kiviaho of Whitefish, Ont., are question marks as to whether they’ll return for another season.