Women’s Hockey Falls Flat in Season-Opener

Krystin Lawrence of the Windsor Lancers corrals the puck near a Western Mustang during 2014-15 OUA women's hockey action at South Windsor Arena last season. Western thumped the Lancers 7-1 this past Thursday in the 2015-16 regular season opening game in London at Thompson Arena. [Photo by // Kevin Jarrold]

by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor

The Lancer women’s hockey team opened the 2015-16 season with a 7-1 loss on the road against the reigning OUA and CIS champion Western Mustangs last week at Thompson Arena in London.

During the Oct. 8 game, Western rookie April Clark had a game-high three assists including two in the opening period which saw three different Mustangs score.

Windsor starting goaltender Marissa Kozovski would not make it through the first period, as rookie backup Hanna Slater took over after the Mustangs scored their second goal in a game less than 13 minutes old. Slater was under fire immediately after taking over in net for Kozovski, allowing a late goal to Catherine O’Connor in the dying second of the first. Things didn’t get any easier for the rookie goaltender, surrendering an additional trio of enemy tallies in the second. By the end of the second period, Slater had already faced 19 shots in relief in goal.

Lancers head coach Jim Hunter said Windsor’s goaltending needed to see improvements as the season continues.

“We need to be better, there is no question about that,” said Hunter. “But goaltending is one step at a time … Western is the defending CIS champs and they didn’t have many players graduate so this gives us a good idea of where we stand compared to the rest of the league.

The Mustangs built a six-goal lead through two and a half periods before the Lancers got on the board. Windsor’s lone goal came on a five-on-three power play late midway through the third period when two sport athletes and Krystin Lawrence fired the puck past Mustang goaltender Kelly Campbell to break the shutout bid.

Lawrence was the Lancers scoring leader last season, piling up 11 goals and 11 assists in 23 games, good enough for an OUA all-rookie team selection at season’s end.

The scoring would not end there however as the Mustangs would continue their pressure and put six more shots on net in the third. After Lawrence’s goal, Western’s Brittany Clapham rounded out the scoring with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

Prior to the regular season, Hunter knew Windsor would showcase a lot of youth with seven new players on the roster.

“If they are going to come in and play every day, they need to play like a veteran and it’s tough to do,” said Hunter. “Western is going to be in the top two so it gave us the chance to see how far we have to come to compete against that upper-part of the league.”

Despite the score, the Mustangs narrowly outshot the Lancers 25-23. Windsor picked up their game considerably in the third period, piling up 16 of their shots in the final 20 minutes. Moral victories don’t show up in the win-loss column but it’s safe to say the Lancers will come back for a different result when Windsor hosts the Mustangs in the regular season’s second-last contest Feb. 13, 2016.

The Lancers return to action this weekend when they travel to Waterloo for a pair of games against the Waterloo Warriors and Laurier Golden Hawks. Windsor returns to the confines of South Windsor Arena for their home-opener against the Toronto Varsity Blues Oct. 25.

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