Laurier Brantford’s womens hockey team posing after a victorious championship run. Chris Pimentel.

Laurier Brantford’s womens hockey team posing after a victorious championship run. Chris Pimentel.

Players win games, teams win championships. This is one of the most used clichés in all of sports. When most people hear this they roll their eyes and give it no attention. After the Wilfrid Laurier women’s hockey team won the University of Toronto Scarborough tournament on Friday, that cliché now has some backbone.

The Golden Hawks opened the tournament with a 4-1 win over Seneca College. Scoring came from all four lines on the team and the Golden Hawks hit the ground running from the start. After the game Katrina Moczerad said, “Instead of having one power line that scored the goals, all three lines I think were on the ice for one of the goals.”

Unfortunately, they weren’t able to carry that over into the next game. They played Humber College and lost 4-1. Humber opened the scoring off a two on one that featured a nice deke move to beat the defensemen. Humber continued to control most of the play in the first period, but Natasha Trzebinski was able to keep the game close after the first period. Humber scored to put the game up 2-0 after a bad pinch by the defense, but Laurier was able to respond quickly to cut the lead in half. After that, the Golden Hawks couldn’t generate much offense and Humber added two goals to end the game winning 4-1.

Even though the women’s team lost to Humber, they were able to move onto the semi-finals against the host team, the University of Toronto Scarborough. Laurier opened the scoring early on in the first period, but UTSC responded to tie the game up midway through the first.  During the second period, both teams exchanged goals leaving the game tied at two going into the third period.

Laurier opened the third period by scoring early off a rebound in front of the net.  The Golden Hawks were then able to get a power play and potentially kill some time off the clock, but they took a hooking call and that negated any chance they had to run off some more time.

With time running down in the third period, UTSC pulled their goalie and called a timeout. With the face off in Laurier’s zone, the tension rose. Laurier was able to win the face off and get the puck out of the zone only for it to be called icing. 30 seconds left in the game and Laurier was facing another important face off in their zone. Laurier was able to win it, pushing the puck into the corner and they were off to the finals.

After the game, when asked what Laurier has to do in order to win in the finals, Moczerad said, “We have to play as a team, and if it comes down to it make some sacrifices.” The theme of team above the person came through again.

In the finals Laurier was set to face Sault St. Marie College (Sault College). Laurier opened up the scoring in the first period. Sault responded by scoring, tying the game up in the first period. The second period saw an intensity starting to pick again, with both teams exchanging goals. Laurier also lost a player midway through the game; Hayley Baptiste suffered what may have been a concussion, giving Laurier an even shorter bench.

 

Melissa Briden scores the go ahead goal against USTC to put Laurier ahead and into the finals.

Melissa Briden scores the go ahead goal against USTC to put Laurier ahead and into the finals. Chris Pimentel.

The third period of a tied championship game is usually when the intensity picks up and this one definitely lived up to the hype.  With both teams not wanting to give up the goal, they both played very tight. Midway through the period, with Laurier on the penalty kill, there was an issue with Natasha Trzebinski’s goalie equipment. Unable to fix the problem, backup Madison Scott was forced to come off the bench and try and kill the penalty with her teammates.  Scott was able to hold her own and keep the score tied for the Laurier team until Trzebinski could return to the game.

Late in the third, Sault College had the best chance; the captain was on a breakaway looking to force the go ahead goal. But Chelsea Linseman dove and was able to lift the stick allowing her goalie to make the easy save.  A showcase of great hustle by Linseman ensured that the game would still be tied going into overtime, one of the biggest plays of the game. “In my mind at the time, I was thinking, ‘Dive and don’t let the puck go in’,” says Linseman after the game.

The game was tied at the end of three minutes and this meant that overtime was around the corner. The Laurier team was able to control the action in the neutral zone and then Moczerad was able to get on a breakaway. The first shot was stopped, but she was able to bank in the rebound and give Laurier a 3-2 win in overtime.

After the game, Moczerad said that all that was going through her head was, “I was praying to God my shot went in.”

After the game, team captain Amy DeSilva expressed nothing pride. “I am so proud of our team today, especially after everything that happened before this that forced people to play positions that they normally wouldn’t play.”

In this tournament, the Golden Hawks showcased great depth in their ability to score from multiple lines. They had players playing in different positions throughout the tournament.  There were only 16 players that were dressed and lost one in the finals, on top of everything else. Players dove with the game on the line and Laurier had to play goalies in the final game.  When you combine all of those factors, you can’t help but think that the best team won the tournament.

 

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