The women’s hockey team’s veteran corps is priming for one last shot.
Several of the team’s players will depart after the Gaels finish their playoff run, including captain Kristin Smith and assistant captain Katie Duncan.
The two were members of the 2010-11 OUA title team; they’re looking to lead the Gaels back to the championship this year.
Duncan was second among OUA defenders this season with 22 points. Smith contributed 20, while also providing a presence on special teams.
Heading into their first-round series against the Windsor Lancers, the fifth-year players sat down with the Journal to discuss the upcoming playoffs and their careers so far.
It’s your last chance to win the OUA championship again. Is that a little extra motivation?
Smith: It’s our last year, but our focus is on the team, and I want to win just as bad this year as I did when I was a rookie.
Do you think the fact that it’s your last year is weighing on your teammates’ minds?
Smith: When I was a younger player, I was always thinking [of] the graduating players. You just want to win that much more for them, more so than yourself.
Duncan: I feel that they want to win it just as much as we do, because our team deserves it and we have the potential this year.
This is one of the most successful years Queen’s has ever had. You set the school record for most wins in one season by the team. How proud are you of the work you’ve put in this year?
Smith: Getting the team going right from September was huge for us, but unfortunately at this point it doesn’t really mean much anymore. It’s all about the playoffs.
As captain and assistant, what do you see your role in the playoffs being?
Smith: I don’t think our roles will change that much, but I do think when it comes down to it — the last minutes of a tight game or pushing to make sure we don’t get eliminated — I know the younger players will be looking to us. That’s when we really have to make sure we step up and pull the team through.
What do think some of the key strengths of this team are, and how do you think those will help you in the playoffs?
Smith: Our offense is pretty incredible. We have the ability to hem teams in for long periods of time.
Duncan: We have very strong defence and goalies as well.
Smith: I’d just say we have a pretty well-rounded team. It’s a benefit playing against other teams that may be rolling four lines, but they really only have a top two, whereas we have a top three. We roll everyone.
You’re going up against Windsor in the first round. What do you think some of the keys to beat them are?
Smith: Driving, getting those dirty goals around the net. Just out-skating them. They’re a pretty offensive team too, so the opportunity is there to beat them defensively — but we have to capitalize on our opportunities.
Is there any team this year that you have an extra desire to go up against for any reason?
Smith: I like to beat everyone, to be honest.
Duncan: After [our 7-2 loss to] Guelph, I definitely want to take it to them, but I feel like I want to take it to everyone, too. Right now all of our sights are on Windsor, and once that’s done whoever we are playing next is who are sights are on.
You’re veterans of the 2011 OUA championship team. Does that give you guys a little extra confidence during the playoffs, or is it more “that was that year, this is this year”?
Smith: It’s probably a little bit of both. It’s definitely helped the people that have been through it — we know what it takes to get there and we can talk to the younger players and help them try to get there. At the same time, that was a way different team than what we have now.
Duncan: Completely different.
Smith: The way we’re going to win is going to be different than how we won it two years ago.
What do you see your legacy at Queen’s as being and what do you want it to be?
Duncan: We’re going to win this year (knocks on wood). I think we’ve had a pretty strong team and I’m hoping that from what we’ve put through that the team’s going to be that much more successful in the future.
Smith: We just want to make sure the program keeps developing and that we were a part of that, helping it to become one of the best hockey programs in Canada. We were lucky to be a part of it.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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