During the Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 weekend, UW’s women’s hockey team had back-to-back games against Brock and Guelph at CIF. </p>
Prior to the games, Waterloo was ranked eighth of 13 in the OUA division with a .421 win percentage and 20 points. They were coming off an 0-2 away game loss against Toronto, the third-ranked team in the division. Brock was ranked last and Guelph was fourth.
Stephanie Sluys, rookie Warrior goalie, was a shining light in the dark void of the team’s statistics. In the entirety of the CIS, Waterloo is ranked 26. Sluys, meanwhile, was ranked eighth in CIS goalies for her save percentage of .944. As of publication, she has played over 600 minutes and has had over 200 saves. In regards to her standing, Sluys commented, “I was a rookie coming in, you don’t really expect much, just kind of go with the flow. It’s kinda nice to show that I can play in this league, and not only play, but make a difference for my team.”
Cue the game versus Brock. It was a rough-and-tumble, bodychecking, fast-and-furious kind of game: the best kind of hockey. The first period was tense as the two teams played over 15 minutes without a goal; eight minutes into regulation, Waterloo was penalized for hooking, but an impressive penalty kill by the Warriors kept the Badgers away. At 15:44 in the first period, Brock earned themselves a penalty, allowing the Warriors to go on the offence. On the power play, Warrior Marissa Redmond scored the first goal of the game, ending the period 1-0.
The second period was uneventful, except for several saves by Sluys. The third opened with a quick goal by assistant captain Angela MacDonald at 1:32. At 8:28, there was a humorous goal for Waterloo when the puck casually slipped past Brock’s goalie. It was heartwarming afterwards, when the Badgers comforted and encouraged their disheartened teammate. Finally, with two minutes left in the game, Warrior Rachel Marriott sealed the deal with 4-0 at the end of regulation time.
When asked about the team’s performance following the Jan. 31 game, coach Shaun Regan commented, “We were outstanding all the way around, our systems were solid, our forecheck was good, our D-zone was good … and our power play was real good.”
“Our goalie [Sluys] played great,” said MacDonald after the same game, “And we were just getting a lot of chances. One of the things we’ve been working on for the last couple of games is getting more shots through, and I think that’s why we were so successful today.”
The game versus Guelph, however, was a different story. Ending 7-0 for the Gryphons, UW faced a much tougher opponent. Unlike the game against Brock, Sluys played less than 30 minutes and not the full 60. After letting in four goals on 21 shots, Sluys was switched out for the alternate goalie Rebecca Bouwhuis, who in turn let in three of six shots. It was a tough game.
Before joining the Warriors, Sluys played competitively in Ajax with some of her current teammates. Waterloo’s women’s hockey team enjoys playing together; this bond powers the girls through their wins and losses.
The Warriors have three more games in which they’ll try to fight their way into the playoffs, facing UOIT, Queen’s, and Laurier.