Gryphon Women shut down Warrior attack in Thursday Night Triumph

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Written by Stephen Sweet

The Guelph Gryphons women’s hockey team continued on their impressive start to the year Thursday night when they defeated the Waterloo Warriors 3-1. The Gryphons pulled into the early lead and held the Warriors in check all night long en route to this big win.

It only took the Gryphons 56 seconds to get on the board in this one. Elaine Dumas sent the puck up towards centre ice, where it bounced off of a Warrior shin guard and took a favourable bounce onto the stick of Elysia Desmier. Desmier carried the puck in over the blue line and blasted a 50-footer that fooled goaltender Alexis Huber, beating her above her glove hand. Desmier’s goal, her fifth of the season, was another tribute to that booming shot of hers and gave the Gryphons a 1-0 lead.

The Gryphons continued to put the pressure on the Warriors, dominating the game as the period continued. Despite some excellent puck control, the Gryphons couldn’t get enough quality chances to create a goal. Meanwhile, at the other end, the Warriors started to pick up their play as the first period wound down, but hesitation and poor judgment let to there being very few shots actually making it on goal. The Gryphons led by one after one.

Guelph came out strong in the second period, and while Waterloo’s Jenny Bults was off for tripping, they put the pressure on Huber and the Warriors. However, the top scoring chance of the first half of that penalty actually went to the Warriors, as Melissa Quinn intercepted a loose puck in the neutral zone and broke in on a breakaway. Quinn went from right to left, deking and slipping the puck towards the bottom right corner of the net. Gryphons goaltender Aleisha Lusk got a good read on the play and made a spectacular splits save. That sparked the Gryphons again, as not soon after Sarah McClinchey picked up the puck off of another Warrior shin pad, fed the puck to Dumas, who along the left-hand boards controlled the puck. Then she muscled her way closer to the middle to feed a pinching Carrie Tokarczyk, who tapped home the one-timer to give the Gryphons a 2-0 lead.

The Waterloo Warriors weren’t ready to give up, though. Coached by longtime Canadian national team player Geraldine Heaney, the Warriors fought hard and started to play with more cohesion. After missing on their first four powerplays, the Warriors made good on one while Robyn Harris was in the sin bin for an interference call. Carissa Casselman’s point shot was tipped by Randi Wilson, and trickled over the goal line, just as the Gryphon defender tried to pull it out. The referee’s perfect positioning allowed him to make the right call, and thus the deficit was cut to half. The Warriors pressed some more as the period came to a close, but could not beat Lusk, meaning that the second period ended with a 2-1 Guelph score.

The Gryphons went into a defensive system in the third period, aided by some timely pinching by Carrie Tokarczyk and Bianca Kitts. They ran into several shorthanded situations, one when Nicole Latreille collided with Waterloo forward Jo-Ann Scott and another late in the game where Tokarczyk tapped Scott as she was breaking towards the net. Scott dropped to the ice and lay flat on her stomach until the penalty was called, after which point she got back up and got ready for the face-off, showing no ill effects of the apparently brutish attack she believed she had faced. With this penalty, Coach Heaney called a timeout and pulled the goalie, making for a 6-on-4 situation. The Warriors moved the puck around the Gryphon end, eventually getting it back to Casselman, who shot twice in a row. Both times her shots were blocked by Arden Sullivan, who after the second attempt corralled the puck, and shot from inside her own blue line and somehow managed to hit the net. Sullivan’s 140-foot goal gave the Gryphons the insurance they needed for a 3-1 victory.

Here are the three stars of the game as picked by this writer:

Third star – Aleisha Lusk, 23 saves. Lusk made sure that the Warriors never really had a chance to gain momentum, particularly on the shorthanded breakaway save she made early in the second. Her big save was a big boost to her teammates, who not more than 40 seconds later scored the eventual game-winning goal.

Second star – Carrie Tokarczyk, 1 goal. Tokarczyk scored the game-winning goal, but was also crucial in defending, and making sure that the Warriors didn’t get quality chances. By staying between the forward and the goalie, she made it a long night for Warrior forwards to try and get any sort of real estate in front of the Gryphon goal.

First star – Elaine Dumas, 2 assists. Dumas set up both the first and second goal, and controlled the puck all night long. It was nearly impossible to knock her off the puck, and she, along with linemates Sarah McClinchey and Elysia Desmier dominated their opponents all night long. It was a good night for the Gryphons from start to finish, and this win helped prove that they are in the upper echelon of women’s university hockey.

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