Following the winter break during the 2016-17 season, the Brock Badgers women’s hockey team went from a solid playoff position to the outside looking in. To start the calendar year off the team endured four straight losses, and went on to lose eight out of 11 games. This past Saturday, the current iteration of this team ensured history would not repeat itself and hoped to vanquish any haunting memories of last year’s second-half collapse with a 3-2 shootout victory against the York Lions.
Brock came out strong to start the game, tilting the ice and playing fundamental, aggressive and physical hockey. They faced adversity when Paige Cohoon was called for an interference penalty when she stood up a York forward with her head down in the neutral zone. However, Brock’s penalty kill shut down the Lions attack and seized the momentum in their favour.
Christina Ieradi opened the scoresheet halfway into the first period. Rachel Rochat’s wrist shot on net was strategically placed on the blocker side and poor marking by the Lions defensive corps compounded by a juicy rebound afforded by goalie Lauren Dubie resulted in Ieradi finding a gift in the slot. She made no mistake depositing the puck into the empty net.
After Lions forward Erin Locke was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous head contact penalty, the Lions were caught being a bit too aggressive on the penalty kill trying to lug the puck up the ice. Rochat’s defensive prowess on the backcheck forced a turnover on a pinching Lions team, resulting in a four-on-one rush. Kimberly Brown was fed in the slot by Kaitlyn Colonna and fired a hard wrist shot at the glove of Dubie. Dubie caught a big piece of the shot but the puck deflected up in the air and trickled into the net.
Down 2-0, York came out late to start the second period. The Lions came out inspired and the Badgers were caught off guard by a completely different York team that was faster and much more aggressive. York kept pushing and pushing, coming as close as a wrist shot off the post on a two-on-one by Steffei Samuel.
The Lions would finally break through just after the halfway mark, as mayhem in front of the net ensued following a blocked shot. The puck dropped in front of Taylor Murphy who shot, and Jenna Gray exhibited excellent hand-eye coordination in deflecting the shot underneath the blocker of Brock goalie Jensen Murphy.
Early in the third period, York found the equalizer they were looking for when a seemingly innocent shot by Christina Chin from the left faceoff circle caught a screened Murphy leaning and sneaked in on the short side.
With 13 minutes to go in regulation, Brock had a golden opportunity to take the lead when Dubie misplayed the puck. However, Brock was unable to score as multiple shots were blocked by a fearless Tegan Duncan who put her body on the line with an open net behind her to save a sure goal.
As the game winded down, both teams played safe hockey down the stretch as well as in the three-on-three overtime to send the game to a shootout. In the shootout, Badgers defender Kat Whiteye was the only player to score, going five-hole on Dubie.
Brock now sits tied for third in the OUA with Guelph, but the Gryphons have a game in hand on the Badgers. As the season winds down and attention begins to shift towards the McCaw Cup Playoffs, Brock head coach Margot Page knows they cannot begin to get ahead of themselves.
“There’s a pressure for us as we’ve never been in a position where we’re actually fighting to stay in the playoffs. We’ve always been fighting to try to get in to the playoffs.”
The Brock Badgers play at home next on January 20 and 21 at the Seymour-Hannah Athletic Centre when they faceoff against the Waterloo Warriors and Ryerson Rams. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. on both days.