Coming off almost two months on the road, Wilfrid Laurier’s women’s varsity hockey team hosted the Guelph Gryphons this weekend at Laurier Brantford’s homecoming.
The stands were filled with students decked out in their purple and gold cheering on their home team, as a crowd of around 750 descended on the Brantford Civic Centre for the game.
Greg Stewart, Coordinator of Athletics & Recreation at Laurier Brantford had high hopes for the homecoming game.
“Ultimately I am hoping for a victory, but also that the success of this year is extended from last,” says Stewart. “My immediate hope is students show their school spirit, coming out in purple and gold. I just want it to be an enjoyable experience for the already packed day.”
The game started with the Golden Hawks showing their speed and skill with a quick rush by left wing Laura Brooker off the starting puck drop, who couldn’t score as it was picked up by Gryphons goalie Katherine Brazda.
Thoughout the period, the Golden Hawk defense was strong and kept the play away from their net. Laurier goalie Liz Knox showed her skill with two quick saves off breakaways from Gryphons centre Erin Small and Jessica Zarafa, ending the period in a 0-0 tie.
In the first intermission, the crowd of screaming Laurier fans watched the shootout challenge and took pictures with Walter Gretzky. When asked how he felt about the hockey game being played in Brantford, he was extremely enthusiastic.
“I think it’s awesome,” said an excited Gretzky. “It’s a great city that is growing in both population and hockey. Being here is fantastic.”
The second period started with a stronger Golden Hawk team; they came out fighting harder and skating faster.
Their hard work paid off a minute into the period when Candice Styles found the back of the next with assists from Fiona Lester and Crago.
Laurier continued to keep up their momentum, shutting down multiple Gryphon opportunities with strong offensive and defensive plays, and outstanding saves from Knox.
The crowd got louder as Maureen Mommersteeg scored her first goal of her two-year career with the Golden Hawks. Down two goals, Guelph got a little bit more aggressive, but proved to be no match for the nationally ranked number 2 Laurier squad, with another goal coming just 5 minutes later from Lester.
Laurier came into the 3rd period with little to do besides defending.
The Hawks managed to keep the majority of the play in the Gryphons’ end, just like the first two periods.
The period remained mostly uneventful, with Laurier defense fighting off all Guelph chances of a shot. With a few minutes left in the final period, Laurier got another break when Katherine Shirriff got a rebound goal off the post, moving Laurier up to a 4 goal lead.
With the game slowly coming to a close, Laurier started to back off a bit and began to lose momentum, which Guelph was quick to capitalize on. They were able to get past the Laurier defense, resulting in their first goal of the game with thirty eight seconds left from centre Tayne Hewer. Though the goal spoiled Knox’s shutout, Laurier was happy to leave with a 4-1 victory.
Golden Hawk coach Rick Osborne was happy with his team coming out with a win, but admitted he wasn’t overly excited at the initial thought of playing in Brantford.
“Coming off almost two months on the road, I was hoping just to have a game in Waterloo, I didn’t consider Brantford a home game,” says Osborne. “When I saw the atmosphere and the students, I was quick to change my mind. They made us feel like we were playing a home game, keeping our spirits high.”
“I think it’s good to show Laurier Brantford what kind of sports we have, but it was awesome for us to see the support we had here,” says Maureen Mommersteeg, who scored the second goal. “The crowd was crazy and totally helped pump us up.”
“Brantford campus has tons of school spirit, and it’s lots of fun to play here,” agrees goalie Liz Knox, who is playing in her final season with Laurier. “It was a good game, and I’m glad Brantford got to see it.”
With an impressive win from the Golden Hawks, it’s easy to see why they are a nationally ranked team.
They travel to Windsor on Saturday for their next game, as they face the Lancers.