Gryphon hockey women halt streaking Warriors
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – A pair of first-period goals sparked the Guelph Gryphons to a 3-1 victory over the Waterloo Warriors in OUA women’s hockey league play Thursday night at the Gryphon Centre.
Kristen Jay opened the scoring at 14:44 of the first and Kelly Gribbons scored the eventual game-winner 42 seconds later when she tipped home a shot to give the Gryphs a 2-0 lead after the first period.
Waterloo cut the gap to a single goal almost a period later on a Cynthia Cavanagh goal. Angela MacDonald assisted on the play.
“They got a lot of momentum off their power play in the second period and we just had a little bit of a hard time recovering,” Gryphon coach Rachel Flanagan said. “They do a really great job when they get momentum of changing on offence and it’s really hard to pick up those late players coming in. And they stay fresh, especially in the second when they’ve got that change. We struggled a little bit with that and we talked about it going into the third.”
“The second (period) wasn’t as great an effort but we came out really well in the third to close the game,” Jay said. “We just forechecked a lot harder and we made sure to catch our man. They liked to sneak in on our defensive so it was just picking up players and we did a good job of that.”
The Gryphs completed the scoring when Miranda Lantz added an empty-netter with 10 seconds to go in the game to put an end to a winning streak for Waterloo that had reached six games.
Assists for the hosts went to Katie Mikkelsen, Cyan Roepcke, Ashlee Lawrence, Claire Merrick, Kaitlin Lowy and Mallory Young.
The Gryphs outshot Waterloo 29-16 with Valerie Lamenta getting the win in net. Stephanie Sluys took the loss for the Warriors.
Neither team scored on its power play, Waterloo on two chances and Guelph on three.
The Gryphs move back to third place with the win as they improve their record to 6-1-4-0. Waterloo is fifth at 5-1-2-0.
The defending OUA-champion Gryphs have a lineup that is very similar to the one that captured their second consecutive OUA championship title last season. All but four players are back. Those not back who scored points last season are forwards Sophie Contant (9 goals-4 assists in 29 games including playoffs) and Brittany St. James (5-13 in 26 games).
“They were both pretty significant players, but we feel like we’ve brought in similar players and we feel really good about where we’re at,” Flanagan said. “It’s a couple of new faces, but it’s amazing how just a couple of shifts in the lineup can really change the dynamic of the team. We’re still working through a few things and I think it’s a good thing for us to have to face a little bit of adversity so that when the time comes that we are down or we have to find a way to win a game, we’ve been in that situation already.”
Others not back are forward Kassondra Pedenko (0 points in 12 games) and defenceman Bryn Ferris (0 points in 6 games) who didn’t suit up in the playoffs. New to the roster this season are forward Lantz (2-3 in 11 games) and defencemen Mikkelsen (1-2 in 6 games) and Chantal Gudbranson (0-2 in 4 games).
“There aren’t too many new faces,” Jay said. “We have a pretty solid group.”
The Gryphs had four losses during their 24-game regular season last season – three in regulation time and one in overtime – and have lost four times, all in regulation time, in the 11 league games they’ve played this season. Of the losses, three were on the road while the lone loss at home was a 4-3 setback to the Ryerson Rams in their season opener Oct. 19. They’ve won the four home games they’ve played since then.
“That’s OK for us,” Flanagan said. “Maybe we end up giving up the home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, but figuring how to play in other rinks is really important and also, our games we’ve been losing them by one goal. We lost one by two and it was an empty-netter that they scored late in the game.”
“Last year we caught a lot of lucky bounces that maybe we shouldn’t have gotten and now we’re not getting lucky bounces so it’s becoming a lot tougher,” Jay said. “But I think we’re battling through well and things are going to turn around.”
The Gryphs have struggled on their power play this season as they’ve netted five goals on 52 power plays for a 9.6 percentage. That’s 10th in the 13-team league. They were third last season at 16.2 percent.
“We’ve had a ton of special teams’ play this year and we’re still working through stuff on our special teams,” Flanagan said. “We just haven’t found a good fit yet. Every team kills a little differently so we’re just trying to pre-scout and know what to expect on the power play so we can take advantage.”
The Gryphs are to host the fourth-place Western Mustangs (5-1-2-2) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Gryphon Centre.