The Oxford Women’s Blues played the first league game of the season this weekend away against the Coventry and Warwick Panthers. The girls were keen to show the rest of the league that they are a team to count on this season.
The game started in a high tempo and the women took the lead in the first shift through Gabi Smyth who scored her first ever goal on a rebound. The team kept working hard and the next goal came a few minutes later from a beautiful break out in the neutral zone where Linda Perkio and Smyth assisted Jenn Lawrence on the second goal of the night. The entire team played well and managed to hold the Warwick boys back with the help of some impressive saves by Kate Koch. The period ended with a 3-0 lead for the Oxford team after Lawrence scored another goal.
The girls kept skating hard during the second period despite a short bench. Eight minutes into the second period the second line joined the score sheet after some hard work in front of the net resulting in a goal scored by Pollyanna Fitzgerald, assisted by Charlotte Cato. Seconds later Lawrence won the face off following the goal and went on to score another goal, increasing the lead to 5-0. The men on the Warwick team was getting frustrated and started using their size and strength more to their advantage. A particularly hard check on Smyth resulted in a powerplay for the women. However, the Warwick team was putting on a lot of pressure and not having practiced their powerplay much the team struggled to keep possession of the puck. During a break away Warwick scored a goal to make it 5-1. This did not stop the girls who went on to score another goal less than a minute later making it 6-1. This was the fourth goal of the game for Lawrence and it was assisted by HyunSeo Park. Before the end of the period Warwick managed to score another goal leaving the score 6-2 at the intermission.
The third period was tough for the girls. The short bench meant players were getting tired, struggling more to get the puck out of the defensive zone and to keep the players out of the slot. Warwick scored three goals leaving the score 6-5 halfway through the period. The girls were still working hard but were tired and lacked the strength to keep the men away from their goal. Luckily goaltender Koch was holding her ground and when an unfortunate Warwick player fell over in her crease he earned himself a good beating. Some of the skaters also played very physical and Lawrence got herself a penalty for checking from behind. Soon after she joined the team back on the ice, the Warwick team got a 2 minute penalty. Oxford coach James Buchanan Smith took this opportunity to call a time out to give the girls some extra rest and instructions to score a goal during the following power play. The girls did what they were told and after just over a minute of power play Fitzgerald scored her second goal of the night assisted by Cato. Warwick soon answered with another goal leaving the score 7-6 with 5 minutes left of the game. During the last minutes of the game the girls worked hard to keep their defense solid. The last goal of the game was scored by Canadian Lisa Choi with a nice top corner shot that pinged as it hit the backbar of the net.
Player of the game for Oxford was awarded to Jenn Lawrence after an impressive 5 points, leaving her top scorer of the league. Park earned MV Piggy for skating hard throughout her first ever hockey game. Overall it was a great performance by the team. Now some more training and well deserved rest is waiting before the double header in the coming weekend.