Just six games into the season, the Queen’s women’s hockey team is still finding their groove.
The Gaels split their two games on Halloween weekend, taking down the Varsity Blues 3-0 but dropping their Sunday afternoon contest to the Guelph Gryphons by a score of 3-1. Queen’s currently holds a 3-3 record as a result.
Their win against the Blues was the Gaels’ third win of the season and goaltender Stephanie Pascal’s third shutout of the season. The team displayed their consistently strong defense in a back and forth game with multiple chances for both squads.
In their Saturday game against the Gryphons, Queen’s was frustrated not to get a better result. Despite being down 2-1 at the end of the first period, they skillfully controlled the pace of play and put Guelph under exhausting pressure in the early minutes of the second period. Small errors marred the performance, putting them in a hole that they were unable to climb out of.
“[It] was a game that I thought we could’ve come out on top. We weren’t winning a lot of the races to the puck and some of our choices were either too soft or lacked a bit of focus,” coach Matt Holmberg said after the game. “Yet despite that, we came within a hair of almost pulling it out.”
Down 2-1 with just under ten minutes to play, the Gryphons committed two penalties to give Queen’s a two-man advantage for over a minute. In what was likely their greatest opportunity to equalize the score, the Gaels came up short. Similar situations were presented during the game, shedding light on something the Gaels have previously emphasized they’re working on improving.
“Our power play continues to need some work. We’ve had opportunities in all three of our losses to help ourselves out by converting on the power play and we’ve given up those opportunities,” Holmberg said.
The Gaels’ management operates in six-week re-evaluation periods — a time frame that they see fit to understand the mechanics of the team and what they want to fix.
Coach Holmberg explained that going into the next six weeks, there’ll likely be certain changes to the team’s current strategy.
“We, as coaches, will start to talk about it, reassess in terms of either [defensive] pairings or lines or anything else that we may want to do to make a change,” Holmberg said.
What will likely be at the forefront of this discussion will be the Gael’s ability to capitalize on the man advantage and other opportunities that have lost them games that could have easily gone in a different direction. And while this won’t be an overnight process, members of the team emphasized their willingness and desire to work as hard as they can to make the team as strong as they can be.
The Gaels hit the road this weekend, travelling to St. Catherines to play Brock on Friday and then exorcise their Halloween demons in a rematch with the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday.
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