After finishing the first half with a 7-5-1-0 record, the women’s hockey team was looking to start the second half of the season in London on a positive note. However, playing the opening weekend on the road, the Gaels knew they were up for a challenge to earn victories.
On Saturday, Rookie goaltender Melissa John got the start between the pipes and a chance to prove herself against Western.
The Gaels were down early on a first-period goal by the Mustangs. However, Queen’s quickly stormed back with four unanswered goals by Mary McNeill, Yolande Gooderham, Chantelle Johnson and Keri Baker.
This offensive onslaught proved to be more than enough offense for the Gaels, as John stopped 30 shots for an impressive 4-1 victory.
Head coach Harold Parsons said he was happy with his club’s efforts.
“It was important for us to get back on a winning note, and we achieved that in our second-half opener,” he said.
He continued by praising his goaltender’s performance.
“Melissa played extremely well and showed why are second in the league in goals against average.”
Captain Molly Groenewegen also said she was pleased with the team’s play.
“It was a great game to build character, since we came from behind,” Groenewegen said. “The last three to four minutes we played a neutral-zone trap which we had a lot of success with, and towards the end experimented with a few other systems,” she added.
Groenewegen noted that the Gaels were a far more disciplined team than the Mustangs, making the game easier to turn in their favour.
Forward Miranda Costie and defender Amanda Stenson were also pleased with their team’s strong play.
“It was nice to totally dominate Western and finally show some life with a strong powerplay unit,” Costie said.
Stenson commented on the team’s tight defense, saying it was a confidence booster to allow just one goal against Western.
Sunday’s affair against the Guelph Gryphons was a battle for second place in the division.
The Gaels opened with a strong first period, but it was a lackluster second period that hurt Queen’s and put them behind the Gryphons by a score of 3-0.
However, Costie sparked the Gaels, scoring at 4:08 of the third period, and laying the way for a potential comeback. It was too little too late though, and Queen’s ended up on the losing side of a 3-1 game.
“[The team] did not play to its full potential for all 60 minutes,” Parsons said of the game.
However, he was quick to add that the 3-1 score did not reflect the team’s effort. Since Guelph got lucky on a couple of their mistakes and scored some fluke goals, he said, and the Gryphons’ goaltender played extremely well.
Groenewegen said she was disappointed with the outcome.
“It was a frustrating game, and we had a couple of defensive lapses,” she said.
However, she said she thought the team’s third-period effort was a better reflection of the Golden Gaels’ abilities and that it was just unfortunate that the puck bounced the Gryphons’ way.
Costie—the lone Queen’s scorer—agreed, saying that even though they lost 3-1, she felt the Gaels still outplayed the Gryphons.
“In the first five minutes of the game we started slow, but then we picked it up, outplayed them, faltered a bit in the second, but then came back at full force in the third,” Costie said.
This weekend the Gaels face a tough Laurier opponent, which is ranked first in the country. Parsons said his team will not be complacent, and that they will come out with the same effort they always do.
“I’m not worried about my team’s effort, and we will play our best since we have nothing to lose,” Parsons said.
Groenewegen added that having played Laurier once last year, they are not intimidated by the match and are continuing to work on staying focused.
“We just have to put forth our best effort and try our best to move closer to second place,” she said. “We’re going into the match with the same game plan, and we just have to work on executing at the crucial plays.”
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