Team wins in JLC debut to keep playoff hopes alive

Hockey teams split Saturday contests at JLC

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs women's hockey

Jonas Hrebeniuk

ACTION BUSIER THAN HEATHROW AIRPORT. The men and women’s hockey teams were in the spotlight this weekend, clashing with division rivals at the John Labatt Centre. The men were on the wrong side of a 4-1 result versus Lakehead, while the women’s team kept its playoff hopes alive with a 3-1 victory over Waterloo.

The women’s hockey team came up with a big win at a big venue Saturday afternoon, defeating the Waterloo Warriors 3-1 in a must-win game at the John Labatt Centre.

With the win, the team keeps its playoff hopes alive, as it pulls to within two points of the sixth-place York Lions, which currently holds down the final Ontario University Athletics’ playoff berth.

“We kicked their asses,” said fifth-year veteran Lindsay Leonard with a smile when asked to comment on the game.

The Western blueliner was quick to divert praise to Western goaltender Danielle Le Ber.

“She’s a big part of the reason we’ve been playing so well lately,” Leonard said. “She’s out there routinely making 30-plus saves and keeping us in a lot of games.”

Le Ber’s play was indeed a key part of the home side’s victory on Saturday as she turned away 17 shots, including two Waterloo breakaways in the second and third periods.

In addition to stalwart goaltending, successful penalty killing limited Waterloo’s chances throughout the game, as the Western women killed off all eight penalties called against them.

The referees dictated the pace of the game for the first two periods of play, calling 11 minor infractions " seven of which were against the Mustangs.

Only Western capitalized on numerous man-advantage situations, as forward Whitney Weisshaar made good on an opportunity in the late stages of the second stanza to tie the game with a wrist shot from the slot that beat Warriors goalie Erica Bridgewater.

The score remained deadlocked until Western forward Bianca Emanuele banged in a loose puck at 17:09 of the third period to put the Mustangs ahead by one.

Just over a minute later, graduating forward and Owen Sound native Sara Lynch added an insurance marker, taking advantage of some sloppy Warrior defence behind their own net, as she snapped home her third goal of the year.

Minutes before scoring the game-clinching goal, Lynch fell hard into the boards and was on the ice for a few minutes before getting back into the game.

Waterloo assistant coach Mike Stankowitsch summed up his team’s play with one word: disappointing.

“Our effort tonight, as a whole, wasn’t there,” he said. “We knew coming into this evening’s game that it was essentially a playoff game for Western ... We’re a better hockey team and we didn’t show it today.”

Western out-shot Waterloo 29-18 in the game, including a 13-4 domination on the shot clock in the first period.

Stankowitsch pulled no punches when asked about the future of the Warriors women’s hockey program.

“Well, we’ll have a young team again next year,” he said. “We’ll be rebuilding again and we hope that the players we’ll be bringing in will be better than what we have this year.”

Western head coach Paul Cook showed a bit more faith in his younger players when asked about the effect of losing some veteran leadership in the likes of defencemen Leonard, Leigh Trimm-Combes and forward Melanie Harshaw, all of whom are in their final year of OUA eligibility.

“We hopefully have some good people coming in ... it’s hard to replace experience and veteran leadership like we’ve had, but we have some good young people [on the team now] and we fully expect them to step up and take over those [leadership] roles next year.”

In the end, Waterloo couldn’t play the role of spoiler Saturday afternoon " a Warrior win would have eliminated Western from the postseason hunt.

The Mustangs still have a shot at OUA playoffs, as a York loss on Sunday coupled with a Western win against the Lions this Tuesday would give it the sixth seed in the OUA, based on its head-to-head record against York this season.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette