Matt Holmberg called the result of his team’s weekend games “ironic”.
The women’s hockey head coach saw his squad top the Ryerson Rams 4-0 on Friday, despite struggling during the latter part of the game. The next night, the Gaels played a complete 64 minutes, only to lose 2-1 in overtime to the Toronto Varsity Blues.
“I thought we played a great 60 minutes against Toronto, but just weren’t rewarded this time for our efforts with two points,” Holmberg said.
The three-point weekend kept the Gaels (11-2-3) in the OUA’s second spot, a single point ahead of the Windsor Lancers (10-2-4). Holmberg said the game against Toronto (10-3-2) played an important role in preparing his team for the playoffs.
“It did sort of feel like a playoff game, to be honest with you,” he said. “There was a lot of flow, a lot of stretches throughout the game where there were very few whistles, very few penalties. A very good game, but yeah, it felt like a playoff game.”
The two teams remained evenly matched throughout, with the first 35 minutes of the contest going by before Queen’s opened the scoring on winger Addi Halladay’s seventh goal of the year.
The lead held for most of the third frame, but Toronto’s Taylor Day evened up the score with just under five minutes left in regulation. April Looije ended the game for the Varsity Blues exactly four minutes into extra time.
“The team was pumped – we knew it was going to be a tight game, and it was,” Holmberg said.
While the Gaels blanked Ryerson (7-8-0), the result didn’t mirror the tempo of the game. Queen’s tallied all four of their markers in the opening 24 minutes — including a natural hat trick from captain Shawna Griffin — and outshot the Rams 24-10 in the opening frame.
Ryerson brought the pressure afterwards, finishing with 39 shots to Queen’s 40. Rookie Gaels netminder Stephanie Pascal withstood the late-game onslaught to preserve her third shutout of the season.
“While I was critical of the team in terms of how we played in the last 30 minutes against Ryerson, that does not include Stephanie,” Holmberg said. “Thankfully, she stayed sharp while Ryerson put up a lot more shots. Steph was there time and time again.”
Griffin’s offensive performance was also impressive, considering the centre was suffering from a wrist injury that led to her being moved to the wing for the game.
The Gaels head back to Toronto this weekend to face the York Lions (8-6-2) on Saturday.
With York battling for a playoff spot, the game will be tough, Holmberg said. A return to a healthier lineup and another complete 60-minute game will be key for the Gaels to come home with the victory.
“York is always tough to play at home,” he said. “We’re going to need to play a full 60 minutes like we did on Saturday and continue to improve on that.”
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