The Brock Badgers women’s hockey team picked up four valuable points in the standings against key opponents this past weekend. A regulation win against the Guelph Gryphons for three points and a shootout loss against the Ryerson Rams puts them in fifth place in the OUA heading into the final two weeks of the season.
Just a single point separated the Gryphons from the Badgers in the standings at the beginning of the night on Thursday. The Badgers struck first and they struck early. Annie Berg got a chance at an early breakaway thanks to a heads-up play by Hunter Accursi. Berg scored for the Badgers just 1:02 into the first.
“I think for us getting that first one kind of relaxes us a little bit, and I tell you it’s a lot easier playing that way than chasing the game all the time, so it was nice to be able to do,” said head coach Margot Page.
Since the beginning of the season, the Badgers have seen significant improvements in the third period. At the start of the year, teams could almost guarantee pulling their goaltender in the final minutes of the game would earn them a goal against the inexperienced Badgers — that’s not the case anymore. That improvement could not have come at a more important point in their season.
“I think it has to do with more experience and us as coaches making sure the right people are there at the right time for that moment and then also just experience. I think that’s the biggest thing you’ve got to put yourself in those situations to know how you’re going to react,” said Page. “I think what we need to do better at is when we start getting anxious, like in the third period because we have the lead, is to really settle down and look after the puck and continue to play the way that got us to that lead.”
The win allowed them to overtake Guelph in the standings — until the next night when Guelph played the Rams and won in regulation, putting them, once again, a point ahead of the Badgers.
“Obviously I always talk about every game as big so no matter what game we play we want to win,” said Page. “It’s basically playoff hockey now for us. We can’t just rest, but this game was a big one because if you lose this one you get a little bit tighter for the next one, but now it’s like ‘okay, we know we’re good, we’re doing okay.’”
The Badgers had a day of rest between playing Guelph and playing Ryerson. It was an incredibly even game, neither team scored in the first two frames. The third period, however, started with a bang.
Kiana Tobia, who sat out the entirety of last season and the beginning of this one with an injury, scored her first goal of the season. This was a goal that really mattered to the Badgers in more ways than one. The first goal after coming back from an injury is always big and judging from the standing ovation they gave, Tobia’s teammates knew it.
“It’s been a long battle for her and it was really neat to see. It’s a big goal, not just an empty netter or anything, it got us going, so yeah, I’m really proud of the kid,” said Page.
The Rams tied the game on the power play at 8:35. The Badgers were on the offensive for the rest of the period. In the final three minutes of the game, Morgan Dezell was penalized for head contact. The Badgers would be short a skater for the rest of the game as her four minute double minor expired.
“I wondered why sometimes we get two minute head contact penalties and why we get four minute head contact penalties. She deserved it, the ref said she punched her in the head so you’ve got to kill it. What else can you do? Right?” said Page.
Despite having the disadvantage, the Badgers were still looking for three points from a regulation win. The clock wound down and the game went to overtime. With nearly 30 seconds left on the penalty kill, the Badgers decided to go on the offensive attack.
“We’re happy to come in and get a point but obviously we wanted to win it so as soon as we got the kill we wanted to go on the offensive and it was just getting them mentally prepared for the transition of that,” said Page.
The Rams won in the shootout, when Berg, Maplethorpe and Dezell were unable to best the Rams’ goaltender. Jensen Murphy was tricked by some fancy stickhandling by Mia Morano and the single goal was all it took for the Rams to take the win.
The one point the Badgers earned in the shootout loss, however, puts them back in fifth place above the Gryphons. The Badgers and the Gryphons each have 35 points in the standings, but the Badgers are 2-0 against the Gryphons which gives them the advantage in the event of a tie.
The team will play their next and final home game on Thursday against the Laurier Golden Hawks at 7:15 p.m. at the Seymor-Hannah Centre.