W-HOCKEY PLAYOFF ROUNDUP: Toronto and Guelph use OT heroics to advance to semifinals

W-HOCKEY PLAYOFF ROUNDUP: Toronto and Guelph use OT heroics to advance to semifinals

Saturday, February 21

Windsor 1 @ Toronto 2 (OT) (Toronto wins series 2-0)

Third-year forward Taylor Day scored four minutes into overtime to lead the No. 10 Unviersity of Toronto Varsity Blues women's hockey team to a 2-1 Game 2 win and series sweep over the Windsor Lancers on Saturday afternoon at Varsity Arena.
With the win, Toronto advances to their second straight OUA semi-final series. The Blues ended the six-year second round draught last season.

The top-seeded Western Mustangs have also advanced to the semi-final round. U of T and Western await the results of the Guelph/Ryerson and Laurier/Queen's quarter-final series to determine their opponents next week.

After a scoreless first period, fifth-year defenceman Stacey Oue got the Blues on the board, completing a tic-tac-toe passing play on the powerplay in the final minutes of the second. Toronto led 1-0 after 40 minutes. 

Windsor's Candace Kourounis evened the score midway through the third when she tapped in a rebound off an Erinn Noseworthy rebound and the two teams headed to overtime. 

Day came up with a beautiful goal, deking through some Lancers defenders before slotted the puck five-hole for the game-winner.

Fifth-year Blues netminder Nicole Kesteris made 33 saves in the win.

Source: Toronto Varsity Blues

Guelph 2 @ Ryerson 1 (OT) (Guelph wins series 2-0)

Guelph, ON – Saturday afternoon in Toronto the Gryphons women's hockey team won 2-1 over the Ryerson Rams in double overtime.  Christine Grant scored the game-winning goal.  With the victory, the Gryphons win the best-of-three OUA quarterfinal series 2-games-to-0 and advance to the conference semi-finals.

After the Gryphons were able to pull out a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 1 of the series, Game 2 pick up right where things had left off as goals were hard to come by in what was yet another hard fought, intense playoff matchup.  The only goal of the first period came on a great individual effort from Gryphons forward Jessica Pinkerton (Oshawa, ON).  The fourth year vet showed off some terrific hands, going around a defender, cutting in front of the net, outwaiting Ryerson goalie Alex Armstrong and firing home her first goal of the playoffs.  The Gryphons led 1-0 after 20 minutes.

Ryerson would answer in the second period with a goal just 46 seconds into the frame.  From a sharp angle directly beside the net, Rams forward Kayle Karbonik (St. Andrew's, MB) was able to lift the puck just under the crossbar as the game was tied 1-1 heading to the third.

The Gryphons would dominate play in the final period, outshooting the Rams 13-6.  Thanks to some great play from Ryerson goalie Alex Armstrong, the game remained knotted at 1-1.  Late in regulation, the Rams would have a great chance to take the lead but the puck would hop just over the stick of Rams leading scorer Emma Rutherford at the side of the net, who had a gaping net waiting.  For a second straight meeting in the series, and for the third time in four overall meetings this season, the Gryphons and the Rams needed overtime to find a winner.

After the first overtime solved nothing, the Gryphons would find the winner thanks to some great play from their top line.  Fifth year captain Katie Mora (Guelph, ON) would lead the rush, flying into the Rams zone with great speed.  She would get off a shot that was kicked out by Armstrong, but a trailing Christine Grant (Mississauga, ON) would corral the rebound and fire home the game winner in double overtime.  With the win, the Gryphons advance to the OUA semi-finals.  Gryphons goalie Steph Nehring (Oshawa, ON) was terrific in between the pipes for Guelph, turning away 34 of the 35 shots sent her way.

Source: Guelph Gryphons

Laurier 3 @ Queen's 2 OT (Laurier wins series 2-0)

KINGSTON, Ont. (February 21, 2015) - The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women's hockey team scored two goals in the final three minutes of the third period as they rallied to defeat the No. 6 Queen's Gaels 3-2 to sweep their best-of-three OUA Quarter-final series on Saturday night.

Trailing 2-1 and a winner-take-all Game 3 looming, the sixth-seeded Golden Hawks got goals from defencemen Erica Kiviaho of Whitefish, Ont., and Haley Baxter of Waterloo, Ont., as they came-from-behind to eliminate the third-seeded Gaels.

"You're down to the final three minutes so nothing really changed other than urging our players to keep going to the final buzzer," said head coach Rick Osborne when asked if his team did anything different in the final moments of the game. "The harder you work, the better chance you're going to get a bounce and that's what happened. The Kiviaho goal really gave our bench a shot and we were able to use that momentum over the final three minutes, eventually resulting in Baxter's goal."

While Kiviaho and Baxter were the eventual heroes for the purple and gold, the best player on the ice during Game 2 may have been fourth year forward Jessie Hurrell of Palgrave, Ont. The Hawks leading scorer during the regular season scored Laurier's first goal of the contest before setting up both late goals as she finished the contest with three points.

Goaltender Amanda Smith of Burlington, Ont., continued her playoff success against the Gaels as she turned away 27 of the 29 shots she faced on the night to run her win streak against Queen's in the postseason to four straight games. Her shutout streak against the tricolour during the playoffs was stretched to 228 minutes and five seconds before being ended by Queen's Danielle Girard of Sarnia, Ont., in the opening period.

Danielle Bishoff of Calgary, also scored for the Gaels as defencemen accounted for four of the five goals the teams combined to score on the night. Queen's netminder Caitlyn Lahonen of Sharon, Ont., took the loss as she allowed three goals on 27 shots.

In another tightly-contested game between the two best rivals in the OUA, it was the Gaels getting off to the quick start despite losing Game 1 in triple overtime. Midway through the opening period, Queen's got on the board when Girard beat Smith on the powerplay to stake her team to a 1-0 lead.

The advantage would hold into the second period but just a minute and 40 seconds into the middle stanza, Hurrell finished off a pass from co-captain Laura Brooker of Fergus, Ont., to even the game at one.

Knowing their season was on the line, Queen's continued to push and were rewarded thanks to a strange bounce. A point shot from Bishoff hit a Laurier defenceman and deflected up over Smith's shoulder to give the Gaels a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.

In the third, the Hawks seemed to have more jump than the Gaels as they looked to create havoc in front of Lahonen. The work would pay off with just under three minutes to play when Kiviaho fired a shot through traffic, beating the screened Queen's netminder to tie the game at two.

Things quickly went from bad to worse for the Gaels as they took only their second penalty of the game less than 30 seconds later and the Hawks went to work with the man advantage.

Going up against the league's worst penalty killing unit for just the third time in the series, Laurier was finally able to capitalize as Baxter's point shot, once again, found its way through traffic, giving the Hawks the lead.

Queen's would pull Lahonen late but to no avail as the Hawks earned the series sweep.

For Laurier, the quarter-final victory over the Gaels keeps their impressive streak of success in the OUA playoffs alive. In the 21-year history of the program, the purple and gold have never failed to advance at least as far as the conference semifinals.

Up next for Laurier, they will face the No. 3 and top-seeded Western Mustangs in the OUA Semifinals. Osborne says that he expects nothing less than another hard-fought series.

"I think we have to give them the respect they deserve and we definitely have to respect their goaltender. It's been a long time since we faced them so the games we played back in October don't mean anything now. Like Queen's, we feel like we have a chance to win and we're going to give them everything we can throw at them. We're the underdog but we still have a chance to win."

The complete schedule for the best-of-three series has yet to be determined. Stay tuned to laurierathletics.com for up-to-date playoff information.

Source: Laurier Golden Hawks