Lawrence Park Panthers were one penalty kill away from a perfect season.
The girls hockey team headed into the final regular season game with an unblemished 7-0 record until Sir Oliver Mowat Mustangs corralled the Panthers with a 3-1 win Feb. 19 at Ted Reeve Arena.
Even with the loss the Panthers get a bye into the District Region, Tier 1 final against Malvern Black Knights on March 4. They won that game 2-0, with forward Meg Sullivan scoring both the goals.
Coach Karen Daigle showed some distress over the loss, but no loss of confidence in her girls.
She chalked up the defeat to a depleted bench and a strong Mowat goalie, Leanne Legassicke.
“We couldn’t find the holes, so props to their goalie who played a good game,” Daigle said. “We took some silly penalties which left us short, so I think that affected it.”
A slashing penalty taken by Natali Robinson that led to a power play goal by Vanessa Kalpakis in the second period was what proved to be the thorn in the Panthers’ paw.
In the dying seconds of the third, the Mustangs Alison Trajanovski added the insurance goal.
Daigle said the standout performances from goaltender Samie Gorman and stellar offence from Meg Sullivan, Alex Samson and Kali Haydenluck has buoyed the team throughout the campaign.
“I think there’s a good depth to our team,” Daigle said. “If you look at the scoring for all season it’s not just one line doing all the scoring.
“They all kind of added to our success, and our goalie has been really great for us.”
A bad game means a stronger outing for the Panthers for the final, especially since it meant the winner will go to OFSAA March
18–21 in Sudbury.
In the causeway to the ice pad after the game, Gorman emphasized the importance of having a strong final.
“We’re going to come out extra strong,” the freshman goalie said.
Teammate and Grade 12 forward Samson agreed.
“We always need a bad game before we have a good game,” she said, adding the team needs to work out breakouts and work on the transition game in the neutral zone.
Sullivan said the Panthers need to calm their nerves to avoid letting their opponents get the better of them.
“We start to panic,” she said. “We learn from our mistakes and build on that.”
Another aspect of the Panthers’ game they’ll have to work on is keeping turnovers in their zone to a minimum, Daigle said.
“Better control of the puck in our zone,” she said.