Women’s hockey eked out an overtime victory in their second contest of the weekend to keep their hot start going.
The Gaels blanked the Laurentian Lady Vees 2-0 on Friday night before storming back to snare a 3-2 overtime win from the Nipissing Lakers the following night. Winger Taryn Pilon proved to be the hero against the Lakers, netting the winning tally 42 seconds into the extra frame.
With the pair of victories, Queen’s moves to 4-0-1-1 on the year and sits one point back of the league-leading Toronto Varsity Blues with 15 points. The Gaels have yet to drop a game in regulation this season.
Netminder Caitlyn Lahonen played a key role in keeping the Gaels atop the standings. The fifth-year turned aside 61 of 63 shots she faced over the two games.
“I want to win,” she said. “I want to play my best to give my team a chance to win.”
Lahonen has yet to allow more than two goals in any game and boasts a .977 save percentage and 0.65 goals against average over six starts.
By stymieing the Laurentian offence, she gave the Gaels offence a chance to shine.
Rookie Katrina Manoukarakis gave Queen’s an early second period lead, netting the first goal in the tricolour uniform. Forward Nadia Larocca increased the lead with 27 seconds left in the period, ripping a power play goal past the Lady Vees goalie.
Manoukarakis continued to light up the scoreboard the next night, opening the scoring with a power play marker in the second period. Nipissing scored twice before the period ended, putting the Gaels in position to come from behind.
Manoukarakis came through in the clutch, tying the game with less than 30 seconds left in regulation, setting the stage for Pilon’s overtime tally.
Head coach Matt Holmberg pointed to the Gaels penalty kill as an area of improvement on the season. Last season, Queen’s sat last in the OUA in penalty kill percentage. This season, Queen’s has killed off all 18 short-handed situations, half of which came on the weekend.
“I’ve got to say candidly, we were last in the OUA in the PK [penalty kill] last year and then we lost [centres] Shawna Griffin, Fiona Lester and Chelsey Verbeek who were three of our top PKers,” Holmberg said. “We’ve really had a couple players step up — including some rookies — into the PK role.”
The Gaels are in action again this weekend when they travel to take on the Waterloo Warriors and Guelph Gryphons.
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