LONDON, Ont. – For the second consecutive game Cassidy Gosling scored what would prove to the game winner, as the Western Mustangs defeated the Nipissing Lakers 3-2 on Friday night at Thompson Arena.
With the win the Mustangs take the best of three OUA Quarterfinals series 2-0, and now advance to next week's OUA Semi-Finals against an as yet-to-be-determined opponent.
"I thought we played very well," said Mustangs head coach Chris Higgins. "The only goals they got we kind of gave to them. I thought we should have put the game away. When it was 2-0 we could have made it three or four, we just didn't put them away when we had a chance."
Gosling's goal, her second of the series, came just before the midway point of the third period as the forward fired a shot along the ice that got past Lakers goaltender Jacqueline Rochefort.
Cassidy wasn't the only Gosling making her mark on the score sheet as Katelyn Gosling recorded two assists in the win. Katelyn recorded three points in the two game series, and has been a welcome addition to the Mustangs lineup since missing the final five games of the regular season while she played for Team Canada at the Winter Universiade.
"She's probably the best defenceman in the entire country, of course it's huge to have her back," said Higgins. "She makes everyone around her better too, she's one of those players, She dishes it off, she makes [Brianna Iazzolino] better, she makes the forwards better, she makes [Kelly Campbell] better. It's huge getting someone like that back."
Campbell played well in the Mustangs net, stopping 30 of the 32 shots she faced, while Rochefort stopped 23 shots for Nipissing in the loss.
Although the Lakers seemed to have a slight edge in the opening minutes that didn't last long, as the Mustangs opened the scoring just under five minutes into the game. Ali Beres fired a shot from the slot that hit Rochefort and bounced high and over the netminder where Stacey Scott was able to tap it into the net to put Western in front 1-0.
The Mustangs weren't done there, as following back-to-back penalties against the Lakers, the Western power play unit moved the puck around the offensive zone effectively before Katelyn Gosling fired a pass to Kendra Broad at the side of the Nipissing net, Broad fired a low shot that bounced off Rochefort's pads and directly over to Brittany Clapham who put it home to give Western a 2-0 lead.
Nipissing's best chance of the frame came around the seven-minute mark on a 2-on-0, however Campbell slid across her crease to make a nice save and keep Western up by two, a lead they'd take into the first intermission.
Neither team was able to put any points on the scoreboard in the second frame, but that's not to say there was a lack of action as the physicality increased throughout the period, resulting in a few post-whistle scrums.
While the second period didn't see any goals that certainly wasn't the case in the final frame as Mariah-Leigh Fell scored Nipissing's first of the game on the power play at 8:01 to cut the Mustangs lead to 2-1.
Cassidy Gosling restored Western's two-goal lead just over 90 seconds later, with Katelyn Gosling providing the assist, her second of the night.
With their season on the line the Lakers pulled Rochefort with 4:35 remaining, and despite getting into penalty trouble the move paid off with two minutes left in the contest. It was Fell providing the offence once again, this time tipping a low point shot just past Campbell, cutting Western's lead to 3-2.
Despite pressure from the Lakers in the final two minutes, the Mustangs defence stayed strong, and Sydney Kidd capped things off with a stellar defensive effort in the final minute, blocking one shot while lying on the ice before getting up and blocking another to help preserve the lead and send Western to the semi-finals with a 3-2 win.
With a first round victory in the books the Mustangs will now turn their attention to the OUA Semi-Finals. While Western's opponent has not yet been determined, as the OUA's top seed Western holds home ice advantage throughout the OUA playoffs, meaning game one of the semi-finals is set for Wednesday night at Thompson Arena.
NOTES: This was Nipissing's first-ever OUA women's hockey playoff series in only their second season of competition. The Lakers joined OUA women's hockey for the 2013-14 season… Western's two-game sweep marks the third time in four seasons that the Mustangs have swept a team out of the playoffs. The two previous series sweeps were both against Toronto in the OUA Quarterfinals in 2012 and 2013…
Source: Western Mustangs