Warriors women’s hockey team off to a flying start

WATERLOO, ON - NOVEMBER 26: OUA women's hockey regular season game action between the Western Mustangs and the Waterloo Warriors at the Columbia Ice Field on Saturday, November 26, 2021 in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. (Christian Bender/Waterloo Warriors)

The Waterloo Warriors women’s hockey team has started the season on the front foot. Including pre-season games, they are 11-0-1 heading into the winter break. The only blemish on their record, an overtime loss, came on Nov. 27 in the second game of a home-and-home with Western University. 

Playing at Western in London, Ont., the Warriors were down by two goals midway through the second period. Two goals by Carley Olivier at 12:46 and 17:59 of the second period evened the score for the Warriors before being defeated by a goal from Mustangs’ Hannah Irwin during overtime. A day earlier, the Warriors had taken the first game of the home-and-home 3-0 with goals from Keiara Raitt, Megan Fergusson and Leah Herrfort. Mikayla Schnarr faced 20 shots to record the shutout. 

The expectations for the team at the start of the season are always high. “We’re always trying to win a championship. Our expectations are definitely to win a championship here so that’s the way our group thinks and that’s the way our staff feels. So that’s that’s our goal,” said Shaun Reagan, head coach of the women’s hockey team. 

With the lost season and varying restrictions due to the pandemic, sports teams have been facing a lot of unknowns heading into their new seasons. According to Reagan, the players had been working on the ice in small groups and in the gym over the summer based on restrictions, but it’s been hard for them to replicate good gameplay. The team scheduled six exhibition games, more than usual, to help them get up to speed and have a strong start. 

Another impact of the cancellation of last year’s season is that there are two rookie classes this year. The team has seven players that would have been rookies last year, but are now making their debuts with the team along with three new rookies that joined this year. In addition to those rookies, the team also got a couple of transfers from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The team is carrying a bigger roster than normal — along with a double class of rookies, senior players also had a year of eligibility carried over from 2020-2021, with the team only losing two senior players. 

“We have probably over half of our roster right now that is in their first year in the league. So that’s why we’re really excited too because we’ve got a great base of players here not only for this season but the future seasons as well,” said Reagan.

The team now has a break until Jan. 15 and while their 11-game winning streak is broken, Reagan has a positive outlook. 

“We were 11 in a row undefeated and you know, maybe a little humble pie before the break here for us. So, we come into the second half, that much more motivated to get back rolling again. The loss was tough on Saturday, but I think long-term we’ll look back and go maybe it was a good thing.”