A critical six point weekend for LU hockey women
by Randy Pascal
In the era of three point games in OUA (Ontario University Athletics) hockey, a six point weekend can go a long way in turning around the fortunes
of any given team. For a squad that is looking to vault their way back into playoff relevance, it's downright critical.
There is simply no overstating the importance of a pair of wins, both in regulation time, for the Laurentian Voyageurs women's hockey team to
kickoff the second half of their 2017-2018 campaign.
On Saturday, coach Stacy Colarossi and company handed the first place Queen's Gaels their first regulation loss of the season, stopping the
visitors 5-2. Ellery Veerman snapped a 2-2 tie at the 8:09 mark of period three, with the homeside pulling away with a pair of late tallies.
A two goal effort by Annie Sheridan staked the Voyageurs to a 2-0 lead, with the Gaels pulling even on markers from Clare McKellar and
Abby Lafrenière. Ahead 3-2, the Laurentian women put the contest away thanks to a lovely mid-air swat from Samantha Morell and an empty-net
goal from Veerman.
Making her second straight start between the pipes, rookie Shanna Dolighan was rock solid in picking up the win, turning aside 26 of the 28 shots
that she faced. Former Sudbury Lady Wolves' netminder Stephanie Pascal was tagged with the loss, adding another 25 saves to her season stats.
Equally as important as the upset win, however, was Laurentian's ability to follow it up with a second straight strong showing, downing the UOIT
(University of Ontario Institute of Technology) Ridgebacks 3-2 on Sunday.
The contest remained scoreless through almost thirty minutes of play, before the visitors caught a break. A shot from the point from Jillian Banks
deflected off an L.U. defender, sending the puck floating through the air and up and over Dolighan, who had no chance on the play.
Once again, however, the blue and gold demonstrated their resiliency, countering just 32 seconds later when Morell buried a great centering pass from
Brooklyn Davis, jumping into the rush.
For the second time in less than 24 hours, the difference-making goal for Laurentian would come with in or around ten minutes to play, as a centering
pass from Marie-Pierre Pelissou deflected off the skate of a Ridgeback defender, a short-handed tally for the Voyageurs, no less.
Less than a minute later, Taylor Weber pounced on a loose puck in the slot, adding a goal that would prove critical when Chelsea Ball
countered with an unassisted effort for UOIT with exactly three minutes left to play.
Dolighan made it three wins in as many starts, registering 31 saves as the locals put themselves right back in the mix. With a record of 5-1-5-3
(W-OTW-L-OTL), good for 20 points, the Voyageurs are currently in ninth place, just two points back of a three team logjam that includes the Ryerson
Rams, Waterloo Ravens and University of Toronto Blues.
Laurentian also has three straight wins and a 3-2 shootout loss to Waterloo to their credit since the return of Ellery Veerman, a four game stretch in
which the team captain has accumulated seven points.
"I think we were playing a lot more connected this weekend," noted the fourth year Nursing student. "We came back from the break ready to jump in right
away. We put in our work in December, and I think that helped us a lot right now."
After scoring just twelve goals in their first ten games of the year, the Voyageurs have now found the back of the net no less than fourteen times in
their most recent quartet of outings. Veerman suggested there is no magical plan in place that accounts for the offensive surge.
"We're showing up every day, ready to work," she said. "We see ourselves as a hard working, skating team. We're pretty confident with every line we send
out, which is huge. We know that we don't have one scoring line, we have people on every line that can get the job done. That helps us a lot."
Yet another important weekend ahead for Veerman and company as Laurentian hits the road for matchups with the Laurier Hawks (1-1-12-2) on Saturday
and Western Mustangs (9-1-3-2) on Sunday.