Brock Women’s Hockey pick up key wins to get back into playoff spot

Christina Ieradi has helped the Badgers push for a playoff spot / Chloé Charbonneau

 

The play of Jensen Murphy, Brock’s goaltender, this season has been terrific. She has stepped up and won the Badgers key games when the offense has struggled, and her outstanding work has paid off as she has been near the top of the OUA in goals against average and save percentage all season. With Brock sitting on the outside of the playoff bubble, Murphy was ready to step up again as her team had a chance to move up into the final playoff spot this past weekend.

The Badgers took on the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) on Friday in their first of two matchups. It was Cara Sayles who stepped up big for the Badgers as she has done all season, netting her seventh and eighth goals of the season en route to a 4-2 victory. Christina Ieradi and Melissa Hurrell scored the other goals for Brock. In net, Murphy stopped all but two of UOIT’s 34 shots.

Looking to surpass the Windsor Lancers for the last playoff spot on Saturday, the Badgers took on the York Lions, a team that sits near the bottom of the OUA. It was Kailey Peirson who scored the game’s first goal, scoring her second of the season and putting Brock up 1-0. One goal was all Murphy needed in net, as she turned in arguably her best performance of the season with a 34 save shutout. Brock’s star first line got the job done again, as Annie Berg scored two goals, both assisted by Sayles and Ieradi, to give Brock some insurance and securing the 3-0 victory.

Looking ahead, the Badgers have three games remaining in their season as the playoff bracket is starting to take shape. Although they currently occupy the last playoff spot, they are only two points behind the OUA’s fifth place team — the Queen’s Golden Gaels. With each win counting as three points, the Badgers final three games of the season are extremely important.

Head coach Margot Page says as a team, they won’t prepare any differently than they have for all the other games this season.

“We try to have the same focus and process from the start of the season to the end of the season. Habits are everything,” Page said. “We knew that every point in every game would be important.”

If they win all three, they could easily find themselves with home ice advantage at the number four seed, or if not, most likely the number five seed. However, if they lose all three of their remaining games their playoff chances are probably over, as the Windsor Lancers, who have a game on hand, are right on their tail for the eighth seed.

Their next three games are against Guelph, Queen’s and Toronto. It is definitely not an easy schedule for Brock, as those teams currently occupy the first, fifth, and third seeds respectively. Brock has had a lot of trouble beating good teams this year — they are currently 0-3 against their remaining opponents this season.

Page believes that her team’s performances this past weekend have set them up for an exciting end to the season.

“We need to be better in our defensive play in all zones. We think we have our spark back though, so the next three games will be exciting.”

If Murphy can step up and have more terrific performances in the final three games, Brock should have no trouble winning. Murphy currently holds a 1.87 goals against average and a .943 save percentage. Brock’s offence should be able to put up points to help out their goaltender as Sayles, Ieradi and Berg continue to find the back of the net.

Last week I said that Brock needs to find some scoring from the rest of their roster, and after Hurrell and Peirson scored this past weekend, they might be getting just that. The Badgers need to take down at least two of the three teams they have left on their schedule in order to set themselves up for what would likely be a playoff series against one of those same teams.

 

Brock will take on the Guelph Gryphons on February 11 at 2:15 p.m. in St. Catharines at the Seymour-Hannah Centre.

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