Women’s hockey continues hot streak

Gaels take seven-point lead in OUA after 2-0 win against UOIT

Women's hockey hold a 9-0-1 record.
Journal File Photo

Over the past month, the women’s hockey team has made one thing very clear: they can beat anybody in the country.

On Saturday night, goaltender Stephanie Pascal earned her second consecutive shutout in the Gaels’ 2-0 victory against the UOIT Ridgebacks. Following their lone win of the weekend, Queen’s not only moved to first in the OUA, but extended their winning streak to seven games. Now the Gaels sit atop the standings with 26 points, with Western following behind in second with 19 points.

“Obviously the outcome was what we were hoping for with three points,” head coach Matt Holmberg said on his team’s performance over the weekend.

Saturday’s game against UOIT saw a strong all-around performance for the Gaels. Led by goalie Stephanie Pascal’s 18-save shutout defensively, the Gaels kept the pressure in the offensive end, tallying 36 shots on the Ridgebacks.

Although Queen’s wasn’t able to score on their nine first-period shots, they eventually found their break.

Just 28 seconds into the second period, Hailey Wilson scored her third goal of the season off assists from Clare McKellar and Micaela Smith.

From there on, Queen’s tightened up defensively, keeping the UOIT attack at bay. With less than a minute left in the game, Gaels forward Addi Halladay added an empty net goal to cement the 2-0 victory for the home side.

After the game, head coach Matt Holmberg said the Gaels were the better team on paper.

“[The numbers] were in our favour,” he said. “That said, the games were closer than maybe the statistics would show … We’re fortunate to have the goaltending we do.”

The Gaels’ hot streak has been somewhat of a surprise for many after a fourth-place finish last season. At the same point last year, Queen’s held a 5-5-1 record — a stark contrast to their current 9-0-1 record.

The difference for Holmberg is the team’s defense. Through 10 games, the Gaels have only conceded 1.5 goals per game.

“In the offseason we looked at our defensive zone and looked to tighten that up,” Holmberg said. “We also seem to be finding some really good chemistry. There’s a strong sense of optimism and confidence in the d[efense]-pairings and line matchups.”

In her second season as the starting goalie for Queen’s, goaltender Pascal has improved as well. After logging four shutouts in the 2016-17 season, she already has three this year and leads the OUA in wins.

“Towards the end of last year she was just starting to get her stride back … she’s just getting going this year,” Holmberg said. “She brings a real calming presence to the team when she’s in net, and most of all, she's just having fun.”

The Gaels will stay at home for the week as the University of Toronto Varisty Blues and the Ryerson Rams make their way to Kingston for a weekend double-header.

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