The Western Mustangs' women’s hockey team came out on top against the Laurier Golden Hawks and their former head coach Kelly Paton, winning 3-2 in their first matchup of the season.
The Mustangs were sluggish to start the game. The team struggled to communicate and was forced to chase the puck after continually missing passes.
An early penalty call on Western University for hooking just two and a half minutes into the game set the team back even more. However, the team was able to weather the early storm, maintaining composure in the defensive zone and shut down the multiple opportunities Laurier threw at them.
Halfway through the period, Western started to wake up. Passes were able to get through the team's blue line and viable scoring opportunities started to challenge Laurier's goalie.
However, this momentum was short-lived and Laurier was able to score on a two-on-one to put them in the lead at 10:47.
Western’s Sydnee Baker took the teams progress into her own hands, dominating the ice and generating multiple scoring chances.
It wasn’t until the last minute of the period that Baker’s dominance was verified on the game sheet. Without any challenge, Baker circled in from below the red line to bury a beautiful back-handed goal.
"We work on draws a lot in practice, mainly looking for girls who are open," said Baker. "That was mentally what I was planning on doing, but the lane was there so I took it. I just pulled it to my backhand, saw the net, picked it, and put it in."
Western came out in the second period still on the high from Baker's goal. Speed and urgency replaced the first period's slow-moving game. Passes began to connect and breaking out of their zone seemed to be an easier task.
Laurier got caught in some penalty trouble early on in the second period, giving Western two opportunities on the power play.
Capitalization on goals started to become Western’s biggest challenge. Two great power play rushes resulted in no material progression.
Laurier matched Western’s pace, creating many two-on-one and three-on-two opportunities for both teams.
“We have the tendency to seek out the pretty goals,” said head coach Candice Moxley. “We need to make sure we get pucks to the goalie's feet and crash in and get there.”
With just less than four minutes left in the period, Laurier’s Rebecca Hall scores a goal from the top of the circle to put Laurier into the lead for the third period.
Western’s momentum stayed persistent throughout the third period. Laurier tried to match their progression with aggression.
Within seconds of Western’s second power play in the third, rookie Kira Memet picked up the loose puck off the face-off and walked in with little pressure for an easy pass-in goal to tie the game.
The remainder of the period persisted of back-and-forth action without any success of breaking the tie.
This was Western’s goalie Tareya Webster second game of the season and second time going to overtime.
The three-on-three overtime was short-lived. Western's captain April Clark took matters in her own hands, deeking around two Laurier players and the goalie to seal the 3-2 win just two minutes into overtime.
"We run three-on-three's at the end of practice when they are tired," said Moxley. "They know what to expect, and it's about practicing like a game."
Coach Moxley was impressed with the team's resilience throughout the game, digging themselves out of a hole from the first half, but she is not satisfied.
“We need to capitalize on opportunities," said Moxley. "We are an opportunistic team, but need to make sure we buckle down and don’t give up too much."
The Mustangs are sitting in the middle of the standings with the record of 5-4-1. The team has two more games until the winter break, both on the road, to improve on their capitalization.