Barch ignites Hawks for sixth OUA women’s hockey title

It wasn’t easy, but the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks have their sixth straight Ontario University Athletics women’s hockey title after a 3-2 victory over the Guelph Gryphons in Game 3 of the best-of-three OUA championship at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex on Sunday (March 15).

The Golden Hawks erased a 1-0 deficit after two periods with a three-goal outburst in the final stanza. Fourth-year centre Lauren Barch (Burlington) got a pair of goals past Guelph first-year netminder Cassandra McNichol (Unionville), and second-year left wing Kaley Powers (Kingston) scored the game-winner on the power play.

Guelph, as it proved all series, did not go down without a fight. With just over a minute remaining in regulation, second-year right wing Tayne Hewer (Barrie) got the Gryphons within one with her first goal of the playoff s, but it was as close as Guelph would get to pulling off the upset.

Another second-year right wing with the Gryphons, Tori Woods (Orangeville), opened the scoring in Game 3 with a power play goal late in the second period. Barch and McNichol were named the Harrow Sports Canada Ltd., Players of the Game.

All three games were decided by one goal, with the visiting teams winning the first two games of the series. The series drew a combined total of over 2,000 fans.

Laurier entered the series having won 28 of 29 OUA games in 2008-09, but it was the Gryphons who drew first blood of the OUA championship series at Sun Life Arena on Thursday night (March 12) with a 3-2 victory. Second-year centre Heather Fortuna (Kitchener) gave the Golden Hawks a 1-0 lead, but Guelph stormed back with three consecutive goals, including a shorthanded marker by Woods. All three goals came against Golden Hawks fifth-year goaltender Cindy Eadie (Brantford), the first goals she gave up all season after five straight shutouts as Laurier’s back-up.

Facing a must-win situation in Game 2 at Gryphon Centre, the Golden Hawks escaped with a 2-1 victory on Saturday night, forcing Sunday’s Game 3. After trading goals in the first period, Barch scored the game-winner in the opening seconds in the second period. The goaltenders kept both teams off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.

McNichol was strong as Guelph’s last line of defence the entire series, facing a total of 99 shots. Laurier third-year goaltender Liz Knox (Stouffville) was in net for both Golden Hawks victories.

Golden Hawks head coach Rick Osborne has been behind the Laurier bench for all six championships since 2003-04.

Laurier will once again represent OUA at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s championship from March 19 to 22 in Antigonish, N.S.