Gryphon hockey women edged in shootout in home opener
GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons dropped their OUA women’s hockey league home opener to the third-ranked Toronto Varsity Blues when they were edged 2-1 in a shootout.
Although it was a loss for the Gryphs, they fell things are headed in the right direction this early in the season. They had five wins and a loss in preseason play and opened their regular season with a shootout win over the Windsor Lancers in Windsor last weekend.
“It’s getting better every day,” Gryphon interim head coach Katie Mora said. “Every practice it keeps getting better — every game. It’s just getting line combinations together, having the team gel with chemistry. It’s going to continue to keep getting better and we’re just going to continue adding those building blocks and hopefully we’re where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Thursday, the teams struck for regulation-time goals about a period apart as the Gryphs scored at 4:31 of the second period and the Varsity Blues tied it at 4:43 of the third.
Chihiro Suzuki scored for the Gryphs on a shot as she cruised in from the right faceoff circle in the Toronto end. Maeve Sutherland-Case assisted on the play.
Katy McKenna tied it for Toronto with an unassisted shorthanded goal.
After a seven-minute three-on-three overtime period failed to produce a winner, the Varsity Blues took it in the first three rounds of the shootout.
The Varsity Blues outshot the Gryphs 29-27, although neither team recorded a shot in overtime.
Martina Fedel was in net for the Gryphs while Erica Fryer was between the pipes for Toronto.
The game was the first home game for Guelph native Mora as interim head coach after she replaced Rachel Flanagan who has taken a position as an assistant coach with the Toronto franchise in the new Professional Women’s Hockey League. Flanagan stays on with the Gryphs as a program consultant and was at Thursday’s game in that role.
“Obviously, I wish we’d won that one, for sure, but Toronto’s a good team and we’re a good team,” Mora said shortly after the game. “We knew it was going to be two teams going head to head. The way that game went, I knew it was going to be close and I just wish we were on the other side of it. Not feeling awesome right now, but our team did a lot of good things. There’s lots to build on and we’ve got lots to learn from, too.”
The result leaves the unranked Gryphs at 0-1-1-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) and Toronto at 1-1-0-1.
The Gryphs don’t have much time to think about the game as they are to host the seventh-ranked Nipissing Lakers (2-0-0-0) Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Gryphon Centre. The hosts are happy to be on home ice rather than jump on a bus to head off for a road game.
“I would rather be at home than travel, especially that close together,” Mora said. “But that’s going to be kind of the nature of our season. We play a lot of Thursday-Saturday, so (Friday) we’re just going to recover and go over some things and then another afternoon game here. Then the girls have all of Saturday and Sunday to recover for the week ahead. In these situations, I’d definitely like to be at home rather than travel.”
- Guelph Sports Journal