By Gabriel Rodrigues
This weekend, the Laurentian University women’s hockey team earned a split in their first two home games of their inaugural season.
On Saturday, Oct. 5, the Voyageurs played their first-ever season game at the CIS level when they lost 4-0 to an experienced Guelph Griffons team at Countryside arena.
In the first period, Laurentian were put to the test, as Guelph started the game with relentless pressure, scoring two goals within the first 10 minutes of the game.
The Voyageurs’ captain, Julie Hebert, showed some quick bursts of speed to give her some opportunities to score on goaltender Stephanie Nehring, but the Griffons’ netminder was ready for the task.
Laurentian would end the period with only five shots to Guelph’s 14.
In the second, the Griffons continued its strong play by scoring two consecutive goals in under two minutes, as Guelph’s Amanda Parkins scored her second of the game to take the lead 4-0.
However, the third period was an even contest as the Voyageurs kept the Griffins off the scoresheet.
All in all, Laurentian’s goalie, Emily Toffoli, stopped 35 of 39 shots delivered by Guelph, as the Voyageurs could only muster 19 on Nehring.
For Laurentian head coach, Stacey Colarossi, this game proved to be a learning experience.
“Guelph is very strong,” she said. “They are an experienced team and one of the top in the CIS. At first, we were tentative and a team that looked like it was lacking confidence. Towards the end, the girls finally started to believe in each other and compete, and we did.”
On Sunday, Oct. 6, the Voyageurs pulled off their first win of the season against Brock University, winning 3-1 in a defensive effort at Countryside arena.
In the first period, Laurentian started off with a bang, as Hebert scored within the first 30 seconds of the game.
After that, Voyageurs goalie, Laura Deller, was forced to make 22 saves in the period, keeping it 1-0 at the first intermission.
The Badgers continued throwing pucks at Deller and were finally rewarded in the second period when Jessica Fickel scored for Brock within the first five minutes.
Although Brock finally broke Deller, Laurentian’s netminder would stand on her head making save after save. The Badgers finished the period with 40 shots to the Voyageurs’ nine.
The third period proved to be a similar story, as Deller was forced to make crucial saves on breakaways and numerous chances by Brock.
However, the Voyageurs managed to capitalize on a power play opportunity when forward Victoria Medeiros scored on Badgers goalie Jenna Sosnoski.
Laurentian was forced to kill a penalty in the last minute of the game, but Elissa Bertuzzi would ice the game by putting the puck in Brock’s empty net, solidifying the Voyageurs first ever win.
Deller proved to be a difference maker as she saved 51 of 52 shots, and according to head coach Colarossi, her performance was “unbelievable.”
“She gave us a chance to win this game,” she said. “Without her today we didn’t have a chance. She gave confidence to our defense because they trusted what’s behind them. So it really was a great goaltending performance.”
Colarossi believes her team battled throughout the game.
“We never gave up,” she said. “We started off great but towards the middle we kind of just watched. But when we finally used our speed and played our physical game, we looked like a very good team. There are still things to work on, but this team really showed what character we are made of.”
For Laurentian captain, Hebert, the feeling of scoring the team’s first-ever goal was “pretty awesome.”
“It was nice to be that example,” said Hebert. “Going out there and finally scoring was something big to get off my shoulders, especially to score and win on home ice with a supporting crowd behind you. Moving forward, we just have work even harder and stay positive.”
The Voyageurs next game is on Oct. 12 when they travel to Kingston to face off against Queen’s University at Kingston Memorial centre.
Laurentian’s next home game will take place on Saturday, Oct. 26 when they take on the University of Toronto at 3:45 p.m. at Countryside arena.