Women’s hockey kicked off 2017 with a win and loss, splitting their weekend homestead. The team started strong with a convincing 4–0 win over Ryerson on Saturday, before falling 3–2 to Toronto the next day.
“Saturday we were able to get off to a quick start and get a couple of goals early, which allowed us to be successful the remainder of the game,” said Mustangs head coach Kelly Paton. “But it’s been a bit of a challenge over the course of the season maintaining that same energy level in a back-to-back game situation.”
April Clark and Lyndsay Kirkham recorded a goal and an assist each as the Mustangs jumped out to an early 4–0 lead against the Rams in the first period. Female athlete of the week Shana Alexander netted her second career OUA goal, and Alyssa Chiarello rounded off the period with a power-play goal of her own.
“Knowing that we'd been out of competition for about six weeks, I think our overall energy was pretty good,” said Paton.
Sunday’s game saw rookie Rachel Armstong score her first career OUA goal, while veteran Megan Taylor net her third goal of the season. Unfortunately, the effort wasn’t enough. The Mustangs gave up three goals, one short handed in the first period and one power-play goal halfway through the third that ended up being the game winner.
“Sunday's game had a little more special teams involved, and we’re really trying to refine our power play and our PK play,” said Paton. “But it was nice to see Rachel Armstong get her first OUA goal, which was obviously an emotional high for our team.”
The Mustangs currently sit in fourth place in the OUA with a 6–2–7–1 record with eight games left in the season. Every point matters right now as the tightly contested playoff race begins to heat up.
“We've set short term goals for ourselves as a team, and we want to hit those marks. If we do that, I'm pretty confident that we have a good chance of staying in the playoff picture,” said Paton. “We want to make sure that we stay focused as a group, and not worry too much about what's happening in the rest of the league.”
Consistency is key moving forward for the team. Maintaining the same levels of energy, and the same level of play will be crucial to the Mustangs returning to the OUA and National championships for the third consecutive year.
“The girls have done a good job of picking up what we've asked them to do, and now it's just in that refining phase, where we want to be playing our best hockey moving into playoffs,” said Paton. “If we can get consistency from everybody, then our overall team play will improve.”
The team will be back in action this weekend, where they’ll have a northern home stand as they host Laurentian on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Nipissing on Sunday at 4 p.m.