Western Beats Waterloo in Senior Day Affair
Western Mustangs Women's HockeyEva Nagel
Sunday afternoon from Thompson Arena bore witness to an important Western hockey tradition; the Senior Day game against the Waterloo Warriors. This annual event takes place during the final home game of the women’s regular season, where in a pre-game ceremony, the team’s graduating seniors are honored. Before the opening faceoff, captain Evra Levesque, her sister Edie, assistant Shailyn Waites, Catherine O’Connor, Anthea Lasis, along with trainers Arsh Kaler and Hannah Valentine were officially recognized, given a standing ovation from the crowd. The cheers continued throughout the game as two first period goals combined with constant offensive pressure, solid penalty killing, and quality goaltending from Carmen Lasis allowed the Mustangs to cruise to a 2-0 victory.
The visiting Warriors had the first sold chance on net, but the tip-in from Samantha Burbridge was denied as Lasis stopped it with her left pad. The purple & white answered with the frequent one two tandem of Sydnee Baker and April Clark, but their crisp passing was blocked by Waterloo goalie Amanda Smith. Smith was on-point for most of play yet couldn’t prevent the Mustangs from capitalizing during the first period. With 12:26 to go in the opening frame, Western freshman Emma Suitor drove into the visitor’s end. She wired a wrister that missed the right post, took a weird bounce off the end boards, caroming past the left bar into the crease, where a still charging Suitor poked it five-hole, putting the home side up, 1-0. Shana Alexander and Brooke DiCiccio picked up the assists. Fast forward to the closing minutes of the period, where the Warriors were firmly hemmed in their own zone. Evra jabbed the puck to April Clark behind the net who expertly backpassed it to a somewhat surprised Alexander, who flipped the rubber up and over the sprawled Smith as the clocked showed 2:09 left. Heading off the ice as the horn sounded, the purple & white was in firm control of the game.
The second period saw Smith shut the door to Western’s shooters, despite the numerous chances the Warriors gifted to the opposition. Clark, who won the majority of her faceoffs during the game, won one to Smith’s right, getting the puck to Baker whose one-timer was gloved by the Etobicoke native. Minutes later, a long ice Mustang pass was quickly stopped by #29. She tried to pass to a teammate outside of the crease, but whiffed on the puck, forcing a second leaping wack at it with her glove before a purple jersey could get a stick on it. The remainder of the frame was more of the same, with the likes of DiCicco, Waites, and Alyssa Chiarello all stymied to get the disc behind Smith despite having golden opportunities from point blank range. Lasis, who faced only a handful of shots during the opening 40 minutes, kept Waterloo from getting on the board, extending her shutout play to 80 straight minutes (Western beat Wilfried Laurier on the road Friday, 2-0) as the whistle blew to end the period.
The final frame, while the Mustangs maintained control, saw them on the defensive for most of it minutes as the hosts took three penalties. With 13:41 showing on the scoreboard, defenseman Claire Balas upended Warrior Brooklyn Sarnovsky entering the Western zone, resulting in a tripping call. However, the purple & white hunkered down with an expert penalty kill, keeping Waterloo off the scoresheet. Midway through the period, DiCiccio picked up another tripping violation. Her trip to the box created one of the visitor’s best scoring chances, where Maryn Carageta blasted a wicked shot from the point. Unfortunately for Waterloo, the puck sailed just wide of the top right corner and were unable to capitalize for the remainder of DiCiccio’s penalty. With a little over six minutes to play in regulation, Carageta came behind the Western net with the puck. Mustang Renae Nevills chased her with pressure, but by the time she corralled the Warrior, her size and momentum caused a collision. Said collision inadvertently drove Carageta headfirst into the end boards. Luckily for all involved, Caragenta got back to her feet and Nevills was only assessed a two-minute boarding minor. During the penalty kill, Lasis made two spectacular back-to-back saves, as well as denying a Waterloo rush with a great last second stretch of her leg. Smith was pulled for the extra attacker with just over 2 minutes left in the contest, but the Mustangs continued their quality special teams play, preventing the Warriors from mounting much offense. With one final clear in the last ten seconds, Anthea Lasis almost scored an empty netter from her own red line, but the puck skidded just wide of the left post, ensuring that Western left with a 2-0 win.
Coach Candice Moxley and the Mustangs have one game left in the season, a road contest Saturday February 16 against the basement landlords, the Windsor Lancers. Currently in second place in the conference, a win would clinch that spot. If the Lancers pull off the upset, Toronto has to lose at least one of their final two games to avoiding nudging Western into third. Depending how those and other games pan out over the weekend, the purple & white will face either Waterloo, Ryerson or Brock in the playoff opening round.