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ORILLIA TOURNAMENT A STEPPING STONE FOR HUSKIES WOMEN'S HOCKEY TEAM

WHOC 2017 tourney 1

George Brown's extramural women's hockey team had itself a rollercoaster of a time at the Fall Faceoff Ice Hockey Tournament in Orillia, co-hosted by Georgian College and Lakehead University - Orillia.

The day kicked off with a thrilling victory over the Fleming Knights. Finding themselves down 4-2 with less than five minutes left in the second period, the Huskies stormed back with three straight goals to earn the 5-4 win.

George Brown's first two goals came courtesy of Andrea Benac, while the comeback's three straight tallies were a hat trick off the stick of linemate Evelyn McLean. The two Huskies athletes proved a dangerous tandem throughout the tournament, cutting through opposing defences with speed and tenacity.

After Fleming went ahead 4-2, goaltender Julia Vit shut the door for the game's remainder, making several key stops to keep George Brown's momentum rolling. A decisive timeout with 1:19 remaining proved critical, giving tired Huskies legs the rest they needed to close out the final minutes.

George Brown ended the preliminary round against an impressive Fanshawe Falcons side. The Falcons relentlessly pressed the attack, gaining a significant edge in puck possession in the process. Vit was kept busy with plenty of action in the defensive zone, and despite a strong performance from her in net, Fanshawe came away with the 6-0 win.

As a result, the Huskies faced off against Wilfrid Laurier University - Brantford in the tournament quarter-finals. The match was a back-and-forth affair, with both sides looking able at taking the W.

George Brown paid for mistakes made in front of the net however, as Laurier took a 2-0 lead after the first period. The Huskies got on the board with 7:38 remaining in the second, after a brilliant behind the back pass by McLean found a streaking Jenny Ouk in the slot.

Unfortunately, the Golden Hawks would respond three minutes later. While McLean would again find net in the third period, fatigue began to set in for George Brown, and Laurier kept the Huskies at bay long enough to take the 4-2 win.

The result may not have been what the Huskies had in mind, but in getting to know each other's tendencies and be battle-tested as a unit against sturdy competition, George Brown's skaters recognized the tournament's value moving forward.

"I feel like as a team we killed it, and we definitely showed that we have talent individually," said Brittany Mathison, a George Brown Contribution to Athletics award recipient in 2015-16.

"I think just learning each other's style of play is going to be important when it comes to Humber," she continued, referencing the schedule's next tournament. "This is a good stepping stone for that, learning how we create our own dynamic."

As displayed in Orillia, the pieces are in place for this George Brown team to make noise at the upcoming Humber tournament. The squad has talent which can skate with any other school they come across. The Georgian-Lakehead experience was a key step in taking that individual skill and honing it into a more cohesive unit.

"I think we started to get more feeling for each other by the end of the tournament," said Huskies teammate Emma Culliton. "With a little more practice, we can definitely go a long way."

The Huskies are looking to go further at the next tournament, and both Mathison and Culliton touched upon systems ideas for George Brown to improve on both ends of the ice. On top of that, this George Brown program looks to be encompassing the entire extramural package, which features both competition and fun.

"We're here to have fun, win or lose," Culliton said. "We did win, we did lose, but we started making new friends and it's kind of a family now."