Women’s hockey team one win from provincial title
It took over a year for the first win. Then it only took 24 hours for the next. And with one more, the SAIT women’s hockey team can deliver the ultimate blow.
The SAIT women’s squad now has a two-games-to-none lead against Mount Royal University in their best-of-five league final series after not being able to defeat the Cougars all season long.
It may have been a surprise to many in the crowd, but not to anyone in the Trojans’ dressing room.
“All season we knew we had the team who could take it all,” said Tia Hanson, who scored the double overtime winner in game two at the SAIT arena. “About a month ago everything started clicking and we’ve been feeding off each other for every win and building our confidence. It’s now or never.”
It started this past Friday at Centennial Arena as Andrea Ehrmantraut opened the scoring in the second minute of the contest and Lindsay Audia pocketed two goals to lead the Trojans to the opening win of the series. It was also their first win on the road against the Cougars since October of 2009.
“We didn’t steal game one,” said coach Terry Larson. “We won, plain and simple. Our players did what they knew they could do. We were ready from the get-go, we dominated early, and we got the result we wanted.”
Like with the SAIT men’s team, the international width at Centennial Arena didn’t prove to be too large an advantage for the Cougars against the Trojans.
“Once they caught on to us using the boards for breakouts we started going down the middle,” said Hanson.
The next night – in front of a rambunctious crowd at the SAIT arena with fan support split right down the middle–Audia and Rylie Scott scored for SAIT while shorthanded. These goals brought the game to a tie after two periods. That’s when the fun really started.
Hanson, a second-year architectural technologies student, got a partial breakaway charging to the net and found only about a puck-sized hole in the top left corner to deposit the leading goal. Just 33 seconds later, Alyssa Taylor found the far corner on a rebound to stretch the lead.
But MRU wouldn’t be slowed down, scoring on the power play just two minutes later. After pulling their goaltender, the Cougars then managed to flip the puck over sprawled SAIT goalie Tehnille Gard with just 19 seconds left on the clock. Taylor said during the overtime intermission the team focused on the effort it would take to finish the game off.
“They kept it very positive in the room knowing we were getting the shots and that we were going to get a break,” said Gard. “It was going to come down to the extra effort, that extra stride to get the winning goal.”
And that winner didn’t take long to arrive. Hanson created a defensive zone turnover in the Cougars’ end, turned it into a breakaway and found the far corner against Cougars goalie Kendall Kilgour. Her teammates launched over the boards to celebrate the victory.
“In the regular season, we wouldn’t make the (scoring) chances happen. We would just kind of react,” Hanson said. “But now, it’s every little thing that boosts our confidence – our defense pinching, getting a shot off a second earlier, or even holding onto the puck a second longer . . . it’s definitely confidence that has brought us to this point.”
The Cougars had only one loss all season in the ACAC and are the defending champions. Larson said the Cougars could win three in a row but feels his players won’t let that happen.
“It’s their focus. They believe in themselves. They’re working harder than I’ve seen anybody work all year,” he said. “And they’re doing it as a team, too. It’s not one person.”
The Trojans first attempt to finish the series off and win their first title since 2007 will be March 18 at the Centennial Arena at 7 p.m. Games are scheduled for March 19 and March 20 if necessary.