Gryphons eliminate U of T, advance to OUA Finals on Saturday vs Western

Gryphons eliminate U of T, advance to OUA Finals on Saturday vs Western

Guelph, ON - Sunday afternoon at the Gryphon Centre, the University of Guelph women's hockey team won 2-0 over the Toronto Varsity Blues. Stephanie Nehring made 22 saves for the shutout while Averi Nooren and Kaitlin Lowy were the two goal scorers.  

With the win, the Gryphons win the best-of-three OUA Semi-final series versus Toronto 2-games-to-1. The Gryphons advance to the OUA Final (a stand-alone, single-game championship) against the Western Mustangs Saturday, March 7th at 4pm in London. The Gryphons also have clinched a berth in the CIS Championships (March 12-15) to be hosted by the University of Calgary.

The visiting Varsity Blues would get the first good scoring chance of Game 3 when U of T forward Amanda Ricker (Ottawa, ON) was sent in on a breakaway during the first shift. Gryphons fourth year netminder Stephanie Nehring (Oshawa, ON) was ready, stopping Ricker's shot and keeping the Gryphons from going down early. With four minutes left in the period, Nehring would come up big again, stopping two shots in tight. Toronto outshot Guelph 9-3 in the opening period, which ended scoreless.

In the second period, it would be the Gryphons controlling the play with the majority of the period played in U of T's end. After some great work by Gryphons captain Katie Mora (Guelph, ON), the puck would come to Averi Nooren (Aylmer, ON) who was able to pot the loose puck into the open net to give the Gryphons a 1-0 lead. With eight minutes left, the Gryphons had brought the shot count total to 15-13 for Guelph. The Gryphons would get a 5-on-3 power play opportunity later in the period but thanks to some great penalty killing by the Varsity Blues, the score remained 1-0 Guelph heading to the final period.

The third period was played at a furious pace with no whistles or stoppages in play occurring for long stretches. While the back-and-forth play was entertaining from a fan's perspective, goals were still hard to come by as Guelph was clinging to their 1-0 lead. After the Gryphons took an uncharacteristic penalty, Alana Sims two minutes for checking to the head, the Varsity Blues seemed prime to tie up the game.  

However, Steph Nehring would once again stand tall in between the pipes for the Gryphons. With five minutes remaining, the Gryphons had a chance to ice the game with a 3-on-1 that was some how broken up by Varsity Blues defender Julia Szulewska (Mississauga, ON).

With a minute and a half left, the Varsity Blues would pull their goalie in a last ditch effort to tie it up. However, shortly after U of T goalie Nicole Kesteris made it off the ice, the Gryphons would seal the victory with an empty net goal from Kaitlin Lowy (Toronto, ON). 

Nehring finished the night with 22 saves for the shutout. The Gryphons now sit one win away from their first OUA title since the 1997-1998 season. They will travel to London to face the OUA's top-seeded Western Mustangs on Saturday, March 7th at 4pm. The Gryphons also qualify for the CIS Championships in Calgary March 12-15.

Source: Guelph Gryphons