How sweet it is: Women of Troy capture ACAC championship
They say revenge is a dish best served cold. But in the case of the SAIT women’s hockey team, revenge is a dish best served on ice.
Only two seasons ago, then last-placed MRU defeated the regular-season champion Trojans for the ACAC victory. But this year, the Trojans played the role of the spoiler.
The SAIT Trojans women’s hockey team capped off an improbable playoff run with a convincing 4-0 victory against their cross-town rivals, the Mount Royal University Cougars. As a result, the Trojans captured their first ACAC championship since winning the title in back-to-back years between 2006 and 2007.
The Cougars finished the 2010-2011 regular season with a record of (21-1-2) and were 16 pts clear of the second placed Trojans (12-8-4).
The season didn’t start quite as the Trojans would have liked, with up-and-down performances and a lack of consistency leading to a 4-5-1 record, including two losses in overtime.
But things seemed to turn around for the Trojans after the winter break.
“At Christmas time we got a couple of players back,” said head Coach Terry Larson. “Tia Hanson got over her injury and Bianca Zuber came to the team. After that we just started gelling, everybody started believing in what we were doing, and the confidence level got high.”
A player of Hanson’s caliber coming back from injury was exactly what the Trojans needed to establish consistency during the regular season.
“Somebody with her work ethic and her focus helps spread to the rest of the team,” said Larson. “They all kind of feed off of what she does. She inspires everyone on the team.”
The addition of Zuber into the lineup lifted the Trojans and provided confidence going into the second half of the season. In the 13 games after the break, Zuber tallied eight goals and five assists for a total of 13 points.
The Trojans were widely viewed as the underdogs heading into the series against Mount Royal, after dropping all five of their regular season matchups to their cross-town rivals. This fact offered added motivation.
“It’s always nice to be the underdogs, because the pressure isn’t on you,” said Trojan ACAC all-star forward, Hanson. “It gives you that extra motivation because you’ve got to give it that little extra.”
The motivation was clear to see as the Trojans raced to a 2-0 series lead against the Cougars and came into game three riding a huge wave of momentum.
The Trojans’ confidence was evident as they opened the scoring just four minutes into the game and closed out the first period up by two.
The Women of Troy also received spectacular goaltending by first-year business administration student Tehnille Gard, who stopped all 30 shots she faced for the shut-out.
“Our team has come together so much in the last month,” said Gard. “If it was for how close (we are), we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”
It was only fitting that both Hanson and Zuber, the two additions that helped turn around the Trojans season, scored goals in the deciding game against Mount Royal.
The line-mates also finished tied atop the playoff scoring leader-board with 12 points apiece.
“To win it is one thing, but to win it three straight after we lost eight straight to them is absolutely a feeling I can’t describe,” said Hanson. “This is one of the moments that is right up there, that I will never forget, ever.