Friday night’s game saw the Laurentian Voyageurs take on the Western Mustangs’ women’s hockey team at Thompson Arena. The game was an exciting duel as the Voyageurs jumped out to a 4–0 lead, before Western clawed their way back to make it 4–3. In the end Laurentian took the win.
There was more significance to this Ontario University Athletics game than just points and standings. Western forward Amanda Pereira made her debut with the Mustangs after being ineligible to play in the first half of the season.
“There were lots of emotions, but my team really made it special for me all week,” said Pereira after the game. “It was great to finally get in my first game as a Mustang.”
Pereira was not only making her debut with the Mustangs, but was playing against her old team, the Laurentian Voyageurs. Her time with the Voyageurs is what made Pereira ineligible to play for the Mustangs until now, as a player is not allowed to play for a full calendar year after transferring schools.
“She was an impact player for us, she definitely had her place,” said Voyageurs head coach Stacey Colarossi. “She’s a good player, she’ll certainly help [the Mustangs] down the stretch.”
Pereira led Laurentian in scoring in the 2013-14 season. With four goals and 12 assists that season, she helped Laurentian establish themselves in their first-ever OUA season. In the 2014-15 season, Pereira only played 16 games but still managed to record three goals and four assists.
“I was pleased with what we got out of her today,” said Mustangs head coach Dave Barrett. “On the ice she has a good skill level and she’s committed to our program. Great personality, great person in the room and a wonderful addition to our team.”
Pereira is eager to help the team achieve their goals and be an influence in the second half.
“Anything I can do to help the team to reach our main goal,” she said.
Barrett is confident that Pereira will be an impact player for the Mustangs now that she is eligible to play; she was in the starting lineup in her debut against her old team.
“All thing considered, I think she played well,” said Barrett.
The game certainly was not an easy one for Pereira, playing against old teammates and friends, as well as trying to generate chemistry with the team halfway through the season.
“In the first period I was a little rusty,” said Pereira. “But my teammates helped me pull it together in the second and the third, and I felt [my skills] got a little better as the game went on.”
“I think she started to get more comfortable as the game went on,” said Colarossi. “As the game went on she got better, which is to be expected.”
With her debut complete, Pereira can now focus on the second half of the season and get rid of any of the leftover rust.
“The real test in these scenarios [where you don’t play] is what happens in the second game,” said Barrett. “You have adrenaline in your first game, so now it’s a question of how she plays in her second game.”
The Mustangs themselves have been very welcoming to Pereira joining their quest for back-to-back championships.
“They’ve really made it special for me,” said Pereira. “They’ve been really welcoming and supportive. It was a lot of fun to finally get in my first game as a Mustang.”