Women's hockey title push begins

Season opener Friday night against Brock

Addi Halladay (right) netted 12 goals in her rookie season.
Addi Halladay (right) netted 12 goals in her rookie season.

Coming off a first-round playoff loss last season to Laurier, women’s hockey can’t wait to get their new season started. 

“Usually when this time rolls around, we’re itching to get going,” head coach Matt Holmberg said, as his team opens their schedule with a pair of home games against Brock and York this Friday and Saturday.  

Having been in training camp since the start of September, Holmberg is looking to shake off the offseason rust and see how his team looks once the games start to count for real.

“There’s still some work to do in terms of our process and developing chemistry,” he said. “But we’re ready to go for this part of the season, and excited to see the puck drop on Friday.”

A two-time OUA champion as head coach — a role he’s had since 2009 — Holmberg said his players inspire him to continue to work hard year in and year out. 

“As much as I want to motivate them, they motivate me,” Holmberg said. “I’m passionate about women’s hockey at Queen’s, and it’s been like that ever since I took the job.”

Fifth-year forward Taryn Pilon and second-year forward Addi Halladay will be the team’s expected offensive leaders, as both finished within the top 10 in league scoring last season. The Gaels tied for the league lead with 71, but Holmberg is looking to his defensive unit as  crucial to the team’s victories. 

“I pride that on being an area of strength for us. With six [defence]  returning, we’re hoping to be one of the strongest back ends in the league.” 

Fifth-year Caitlyn Lahonen and second-year Stephanie Pascal will split goaltending duties as they did last year. Last season as the starter, Lahonen picked up an 11-6 record, to go along with a .929 save percentage, which ranked sixth in the OUA. 

“The last couple of years, there has been a heightened emphasis on defence and goaltending,” Holmberg said. “We’re lucky to have that experience and we need to use it.”

For five of the players on the Gaels current roster, they were on the team the last time the Gaels hoisted the Judy McCaw Trophy, in 2013 as OUA champions. 

“This is the last chance they get to win another one,” Holmberg said, as all five players are looking to move on past this season.

 The head coach is looking for history to repeat itself. He recalled the importance of the fourth and fifth-year seniors on the team in his two previous titles.

“Both years, we had a strong graduating class,” he said. “We’re looking to our vets to try to get another trophy.”

Ahead of this weekend’s matchups, Holmberg said it’s extremely important to start the season off on the right foot if the team has championship ambitions. However, Holmberg knows all he can do now is get the process started, and be patient.

“You can’t win a championship in October,” Holmberg said. “But every point is going to be crucial.”

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