Sergiy Slipchenko | Staff Writer
Featured Image: The Lions celebrate one of the many goals they scored during last Saturday’s game. | Courtesy of Jeremy Zheng/York Lions
The York Lions secured their spot in the McCaw cup finals with back-to-back victories against the Nipissing Lakers.
Last Thursday, the women’s hockey team played an away game and brought home a 5-2 victory.
The first game of the series started off with a goal for the Lakers only three minutes into the game. However, the Lakers lost their lead and the period ended 2-1. The second period was a back and forth in which the Lions managed to hold on to their lead, closing out the period 3-2.
The women’s hockey team brought home the first victory of the series on Thursday, with a confident 5-2 win.
The Lions, energized by their three-game winning streak and cheering fans, crushed the Lakers with a final score of 6-2 in the following Saturday’s game.
From the drop of the puck, the Lions remained in control until a powerplay gave the Lakers an opening and they secured their first goal of the game. This didn’t faze the Lions though, and team captain Erin Locke answered back a minute later to tie the game.
“Both this game and the first game we were down one goal and we battled through that all year,” says Locke. “We’ve had the motivation and we worked on our power play which really helped us get back into it.”
Near the end of the first period, Taylor Davison gave the Lions the lead — one they would not lose. Further cementing their dominating performance was Kara Washer, who got in the Lions’ third goal with three minutes left in the period.
By the second period, the Lakers were noticeably agitated and continued to rack up penalties. Meanwhile, the Lions continually kept cool, calm, and collected.
“Our team atmosphere, as soon as we get scored on, is we want to get it back. We don’t stop, we never stop, we just want to keep going. That’s why we keep scoring. We get up one, doesn’t matter, we keep scoring,” says Serena Vilde.
The Lions showed their prowess and scored two back-to-back goals within the first six minutes of the second period. The remainder of the period showcased how smooth the Lions operate: keeping the Lakers at bay while taking consecutive shots at their net.
The game was already decided when the Lions entered the third period with a 5-1 lead. A miracle comeback wasn’t an impossible scenario; the Lakers even managed to score another goal. It was then that the Lakers looked beat with 20 minutes remaining.
Despite constant pressure throughout the entire game, the Lakers did manage to break through and take some impressive shots. Unfortunately for them, the Lions’ goalie and defenders played an amazing game. Even when the Lakers pulled their goalie during a power play, the Lions still managed to break through and nearly netted a shot.
The end result was 6-2 in favour of the Lions. This win secured the Lions a spot in both the McCaw final and U SPORTS championships.
This team has had the best performance York has seen in nearly a decade. Head coach Dan Church noted that, “This group has really strong leadership and we have an amazing culture within our team. They’re supportive of each other and they all work super hard. I think when you have that great leadership, maturity and a high skill level, good things are gonna happen.”
When asked who the Lions would rather face in the finals, it is safe to say that everyone would agree with Church: “We’re happy to be in the final and regardless of who wins that other series, we’re gonna play hard and we want to hold that trophy.”
With the other semi-final series wrapped up, the Lions now know they will be taking on the Varsity Blues in the McCaw Cup final. The Lions will travel downtown to Varsity Arena to face the Varsity Blues on Friday, March 6 at 7:00 p.m. The game can be live streamed at oua.tv.