Defending champion Gryphons begin a new season
Matthew Ethier, CTV Kitchener
Published Friday, October 18, 2019 4:13PM EDT
GUELPH - The Guelph Gryphons women’s hockey team dominated the OUA last season.
They accumulated 16 wins and only four regulation losses throughout the campaign to finish in first place. They also scored 79 goals in that time-span, the most in the OUA, and 34 goals against which was the least.
“Once playoffs came around it was about the girls playing for each other,” says Rachel Flanagan, the head coach of the Guelph Gryphons women’s hockey team.
The Gryphons did not lose a game in the playoffs, sweeping Brock University and Ryerson University before defeating the University of Toronto and winning the OUA and hoisting the McCaw Cup.
Next up was the U Sports Championship where Guelph would compete against other top teams from across Canada.
“Heading into nationals, it was a really different experience. We had been there three of the past four years. Because so many of our players had been there it was more of a relaxed environment,” says Flanagan.
Once again, the Gryphons didn’t lose a game beating the University of Manitoba, the University of Montreal and McGill University to win gold and be crowned National Champion.
“It is the people that win as opposed to the talent. I don’t think we were the most talented team at the tournament. The group was really special. They really cared about each other,” says the head coach.
Friday, the Guelph Gryphons will begin a new season with a new mindset.
“We’re not here to try to repeat. We’re here to take on a new season and a new opportunity to try to win again,” she says.
With nine new players making the roster in the offseason the team is looking different from the championship winning squad. This included two rookie goalies, four rookie defencemen and three new forwards.
“We have added some pieces who compliment what we already have here. In their first year they are going to have to take on some pretty big roles,” says Flanagan.
The coach says there will be a lot of opportunity for teaching in the first few weeks of this year’s campaign.
“We probably won’t know who we are as a team until about six games in,” she says.
A slow start will not faze the squad. She says her and the staff will be using the opportunity to put together different line combinations and solidify roles for each player.
“I think the girls are really excited to get things going and I think they are excited to figure out who they are too and get a little consistency in the line-up and who people are playing with,” says Flanagan.
The Gryphons will begin their season Friday night against the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks.