St. Catharines, Ont. – The two hottest teams in OUA women’s hockey are set to face off this weekend in the OUA Marquee Matchup, powered by Planters Canada, when the Brock Badgers host the Waterloo Warriors at the Seymour Hannah Centre. Both teams entered play this week having reeled off four consecutive wins to position themselves neck and neck in the standings, which should make for a terrific final contest before the fall schedule wraps up.
Both teams won three of their first six contests of the year to get off to respectable starts, but have since found a new gear to help them creep up the standings over the past couple weeks. Despite losing earlier this week to UOIT, the Warriors recently secured wins against some of the top teams in the province, including decisions over Western and Queen’s. Brock has seen similar success against high profile and highly-ranked squads, as their streak has seen them pick up a pair of wins against the No. 7 Mustangs. And with each side coming in confident, they’ll both have their sights set on a win on Saturday.
For Brock, they have relied on their defensive play to guide them toward their 20-point output so far this season. The team ranks in the middle of the pack in goals per game (2.30) and shots per game (28.1), but they have been among the best when it comes to stopping the opposition. At the centre of this stingy play has been Jensen Murphy (Kingston, Ont.), who has set herself apart as one of the best in the business between the pipes. Murphy has amassed season averages of 1.73 GAA and a .955 SV%, all while turning away 339 shots. This has helped spark the team’s top-five marks in each of the aforementioned categories.
Murphy has been instrumental for the St. Catharines squad, but she also sees significant support on the blue line from the likes of captain Brenna Murphy (Odessa, Ont.), Makyla Porter (Belwood, Ont.), and Paige Cohoon (St. George Brant, Ont.). When it comes to their forwards, however, their biggest contributor is Annie Berg (Beamsville, Ont.). The third-year forward has led the team thus far with four goals, six assists, and 10 points, but comes in as the lone Badger to reach the double-digit point plateau thus far.
Like Brock, the Warriors don’t boast a go-to offensive star that will light up the scoreboard night in and night out, with their leading point-getter totaling seven on the year, but their combined effort has the team sitting fifth in goals per game (2.55). One of the major reasons for their scoring success is their passing ability, as the black and gold sit third in assists with 48, including a team-high six from defender Trisha Cho (Mississauga, Ont.). Cho joins fellow blueliner Jessie Fennell (Fonthill, Ont.) and forward Taytum Clairmont (Waterloo, Ont.) in a tie for second in team scoring, all of them sitting one back of Maryn Caragata (Etobicoke, Ont.).
These key contributors all hit the ice in front of Amanda Smith (Burlington, Ont.), who has minded the mesh for Waterloo in nine of their 11 contests to date. Smith has posted a 2.10 GAA and .926 SV% in her outings thus far, but they have also seen strong play from back-up Alysha Letwin (Barrie, Ont.) in her two starts – both wins. The pair combine for the fifth-best save percentage and sixth lowest goals-against average in the conference, which is a mark they’ll look to build upon against the Badgers on Saturday.
Among the rest of Waterloo’s emerging skill set is their special teams play, as the team ranks fourth on the power play and third while playing shorthanded. Both of these strengths will need to be on display in this marquee matchup, as their combatants also boast one of their better efforts on special teams, especially on the power play, where they check in with a success rate of 20.4% (3rd in OUA).
With both teams coming in on a high, there will be no shortage of strong play at the Seymour Hannah Centre this weekend. Neither team will want to see their momentum falter in their final game before the break, so fans should see a closely-contested battle between the surging Badgers and Warriors on Saturday.
The puck is set to drop on the matinee affair at 2:15 on December 1, with all the action available live on oua.tv or via the corresponding app on Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku.