On February 6, Wilfrid Laurier Brantford’s extramural girls’ hockey team faced a disappointing loss in the quarter finals. The tournament, held at the Wayne Gretzky Complex, was the girls’ first tournament at home this year.
The girls’ team has proven that they are a strong force, with a first place victory in their first tournament at Humber, and a semi-final appearance in their second tournament in Scarborough last week. Though it is not a complete mystery why they fell short in their latest tournament.
“[We] went in with an attitude that we were going to win and that was our default,” said Samantha Keen, a player for the team.
In regards to the differences between their successful past and their struggle this tournament, Kelsey Langstaff had an answer. “We had a lot more players for one thing,” she commented.
At the start of the first game against Georgian, the girls were strong, with a powerful offensive push — hitting the post early on in the game. However, things quickly fell apart shortly after, as the Georgian team scored only a minute and ten seconds into the game.
“If we scored one goal we would have won the game,” Keen said recalling the early chances Laurier had just before Georgian pulled ahead. “Because as soon as we score a goal our momentum builds and builds.”
The girls truly struggled with building any momentum in the first game. Time after time they failed to produce on multiple chances on the powerplay.
“Once we’re down, we kind of stay there instead of coming up and rising to the occasion,” said Katrina Moczerad, a right wing player for Laurier. These are tough words, but proved true as the team lost 4-0.
“It was a rough start,” Langstaff explained, and the girls all still remained quite hopeful for victory as they knew exactly what they needed to do to start winning again. It was apparent from their fumbling plays that they needed to get everyone back on the same page.
“We had to jumble a lot of the lines so none of the lines were the same, so I mean we are playing with new people, so it’s a little different,” said Keen. The pressures to perform well under the weight of a large injury list proved too heavy for the girls.
“[We] really got to work on our positioning, getting it back to our defense, covering those corners, pinching when we need to,” Langstaff said as she listed the essential areas of improvement for their game as they prepared for their second game.
The girls’ second game showed glimpses of a much different team than the first. As they faced Fleming, the girls scored two quick goals in response to the early Fleming goal. The Golden Hawks’ first goal was a hard shot to the top left corner. The second goal, Keen jumped on the opportunity of a slowly recovering goaltender, and she deked out the goalie and threw the puck into the back of the net.
Laurier faced five penalties in the next two periods, one of the penalties resulting in the game-tying goal for Fleming. The Laurier girls held out defensively throughout the rest of the game as the Fleming offense pressed against them with several powerplay opportunities.
The game ultimately went to a shootout where the girls put all three of their shots past the goaltender, securing their place in the quarter finals.
In the quarter-finals Laurier was matched up against Durham College-University of Ontario Institute of Technology (DC-UOIT). This game was incredibly close. Both teams producing exciting chances to bury the puck, however the strong defensive squads kept the game scoreless for more than half of the game. Unfortunately, DC-UOIT got a lucky break as they snuck one past the glove hand of the Laurier goaltender. Just as Moczerad explained, the team had a hard time “rising to the occasion” and coming back. As time grew thin, DC-UOIT managed to grab control over the game scoring two more goals late in the third period.
The girls’ extramural squad fought hard, but their day ended with a loss and only stronger motivation to press forward and improve for their future matchups.
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