Toronto, Ont. – The Nipissing Lakers and Windsor Lancers are two of the hottest teams in Canadian university women’s hockey right now, unbeaten in November, while on the men’s side, two top teams faltered, as the York Lions and McGill Redbirds showed their top-level qualities and ability to compete with the best.
MHKY: York Lions double up on Windsor
The York Lions haven’t been one of the top teams this season, but they certainly played like one this weekend against the Windsor Lancers, defeating the top-5 ranked team twice at home, extending the Lions’ win streak to three.
In the first of the two games, the Lions won 3-2 but struggled to break the puck cleanly out of the defensive zone, only doing so once. At the same time, they were consistent on the counterattack and did well to cycle the puck in the offensive zone to create chances.
Meanwhile, Windsor had significantly more offensive zone puck possession and overall puck possession. Yet, the Lions were able to hit on the counterattack, primarily through captain Xavier Pouliot, and were lofted by a 49-save performance from Cole Ceci.
The first game showed York’s tenacity, but was far from their best game this season. That came in the second of the Windsor set.
In the latter half of the back-to-back, a 5-3 York win, the Lions stepped up their game, winning 72 puck battles to Windsor’s 51 while allowing far fewer shots and high-percentage scoring opportunities. Rookie netminder Carter Serhyenko made 34 saves on 37 shots.
Looking at Windsor’s shot map from the second game, courtesy of InStat, the Lions did a strong job of holding opportunities to wide areas, allowing Serhyenko to square up to saves from a more favourable angle.
The Lions showed this weekend that they can compete with some of the nation’s top teams while also adjusting their playing style to showcase a more complete hockey game rather than relying on physicality and counterattacks. Despite the losses, Windsor remains atop the OUA West with the TMU Bold on a three-game skid.
MHKY: McGill overtakes the top spot for a night
The McGill Redbirds have flown under the radar all season, but are proving to be one of the stronger teams in the OUA, as they continue to build and thrive under head coach David Urquhart.
Although the Redbirds fell to the Concordia Stingers 5-0 on Sunday in the Corey Cup, they showed their top-level qualities in a dominant 5-3 win over the defending U SPORTS and OUA Champion UQTR Patriotes on Friday.
Brandon Frattaroli scored twice and got an assist in the win, as he drove a McGill offence that fired 34 shots on goal and generated 17 scoring chances. Meanwhile, defenceman Scott Walford continued his stellar form on the top defensive pairing, playing 22 minutes and firing five shots on goal.
The Redbirds moved up to seven wins and 16 points on the season and finished the week in third place in the OUA East, despite showing well against one of the conference’s top teams.
With much of the season to go and the two teams in front of them, UQTR and Ontario Tech, looking beatable, a chance to play for a spot in the Queen’s Cup Final could very well present itself to the Redbirds in 2023.
WHKY: The Nipissing Lakers are scorching hot
The Nipissing Lakers finished off a seven-game homestand with a pair of shutout victories over the TMU Bold on November 18 and 19 that gave them four straight wins and a five-point cushion on first place in the OUA East.
On Friday night, Emma Thomas led the way with two points (one goal, one assist), while Madison Desmarais and Katelyn Grooms also picked up goals in a 3-0 Lakers win. Chantelle Sandquist earned her second straight shutout (after blanking Laurier 1-0 on November 12) by stopping all 15 attempts by TMU.
Nipissing followed it up with an even better performance the next night. Four different Lakers had a goal and an assist (Maria & Mallory Dominico, Madison Laberge, Allison Hayhurst), while Lana Duriez also lit the lamp for Nipissing. After watching Sandquist secure the shutout the night before, Chloe Marshall grabbed a goose egg of her own, stopping 26 shots for the Lakers.
The pair of wins moves Nipissing to 8-1-0-0 and into a solid grasp on first in the OUA East with 23 points. One weekend remains for the Lakers in the fall semester as they start an eight-game road trip (with six games in the winter semester) with a pair of contests at Queen’s on November 26 and 27.
The Gaels struggled on the penalty kill, giving up two goals on three attempts in a 4-2 loss at Ontario Tech on November 18, before bouncing back a night later, winning 3-1 at home against those same Ridgebacks.
WHKY: Windsor remains perfect in November
With a pair of wins over the Western Mustangs on November 18 and 19, the Windsor Lancers picked up their seventh straight victory to remain perfect in November and suddenly have the Waterloo Warriors in their sites for first in the OUA West.
The Lancers showed their dominance on both sides of the ice on the weekend. They started on the defensive end on Friday, where a first-period goal from Jaden Cherry was the only one to hit the back of the net for either side. Kristen Swiatsochik picked up 25 saves in the 1-0 Windsor victory at home.
Windsor followed it up the next night by travelling to Western and pulling off a more decisive and offensively driven win. Jessica Gribbon and Gabrielle Lehoux split goals to make it 1-1 after the first, but Cherry picked up one late in the second and the empty netter for Windsor. Keana McKibbin added one between Cherry’s markers as the Lancers left Thompson Arena with the 4-1 win.
With the wins and Waterloo finally faltering in a 1-0 loss to Brock on Sunday, the Lancers now find themselves three points back of the Warriors for first in the division with two games left on the fall schedule. Windsor sees the Gryphons travel to Windsor for a pair of games on November 25 and 26, with Guelph sitting third in the OUA West and looking to catch Windsor themselves heading into the break in the schedule.