The Waterloo Warriors women’s hockey team captured the hearts and souls of many as they fought their way through the OUA playoffs and reached historic levels. The Warriors had their season end March 5 with a 4-1 loss against the top team in the country, the Guelph Gryphons.
The path to the OUA semifinals for the Warriors was one of overcoming odds and being the underdogs. The Warriors ended their 2016/2017 regular season with a win against the UOIT Ridgebacks on Feb. 19. A few days later, the OUA playoffs began with the Warriors matched up against the higher-ranked Western Mustangs in a three-game quarterfinal series.
With the Warriors having lost to the Mustangs in the same round during last season (2015/2016), they came into this year’s series at a disadvantage, and were not expected to make it past the round, as they had never qualified for the OUA semifinals in their history.
The Warriors had clinched home advantage as game one and three were to be played at Columbia Icefield, and game two played at Western. The series was a tight affair and the Warriors, with strong home support, won games one and three at Columbia Icefield 3-2 and 2-0 respectively.
Having qualified for the second round of the OUA playoffs for the first time in history, the Warriors were on a high and were gaining momentum and stronger following from the community as attendance at the two home playoff games increased, and local news outlets such as CTV Kitchener covered their historic triumph.
The players and coaching staff, however, quickly got to work and began preparations for the semifinal round as the opponent, the Guelph Gryphons, had been ranked first overall in the country.
The Warriors did not have home advantage this round and as a result, struggled in both away games at Guelph. After losing game one by a score of 1-3, the Warriors won game two at home 2-1. The ultimate test and deciding game three played out on Sunday, March 5 at the University of Guelph and although the Warriors fought hard to move on to the OUA final round, the Gryphons came out on top with a 4-1 win ending the 2016/2017 season for the ladies.
Shaun Reagan, the head coach of the team, put it best after the loss: “It was a fantastic season, we were one bounce away from forcing overtime in game three against the top team in the country. It hurts now, but I know the coaching staff and the girls will look back and be proud of what we accomplished this year.”