A boost from the back end kept the Gaels in place as the OUA’s second-best women’s hockey team.
Fourth-year defencemen Danielle Girard and Mary Coughlin notched a goal apiece as Queen’s topped the York Lions 3-2 on Saturday, while first-year blueliner Amber Sealey added an assist.
The Gaels (12-2-3) maintained their hold on the OUA’s second spot and kept ground with the league-leading Western Mustangs (14-1-2).
“We’ve been blessed with what I would boast is arguably the best D corps in the league,” said Gaels head coach Matt Holmberg. “That’s both from an offensive and defensive standpoint … We’ve been counting on the D to provide some offence this season and a few of them came through on the weekend.”
The Gaels were forced to battle back early against York. Veteran centre Shawna Griffin took a boarding penalty 20 seconds into the game, and York (9-7-2) capitalized on the chance to put Queen’s in a hole after two minutes.
Girard knotted the game at one goal apiece four minutes later, playing up front for the Gaels on their power-play unit.
Holmberg said the team came out firing after falling behind and that mentality led to the equalizer.
“I think the next three or four shifts [after the York goal], we spent down in their end and were rewarded with a couple of goals before the end of the period,” he said. “I think we were ready to come out playing hard and basically that just got delayed for two minutes while we worked off that penalty.”
Griffin put the Gaels up midway through the opening frame, before Coughlin gave them a 3-1 lead early in the second period. York later cut the lead to one, but Queen’s goaltender Caitlyn Lahonen turned away seven third-period shots to preserve the victory.
The win held significant playoff implications. Only four points separate the Gaels from fifth place in the OUA; Queen’s holds a two-point advantage over the Guelph Gryphons (11-2-3), who they’ll face this coming weekend.
Guelph shut out the Gaels to win 1-0 on Nov. 8 in the squads’ last meeting. The Gryphons also hold a game in hand over Queen’s.
“They are one the best teams in the league, if not the best team statistically on defence. It’s very hard to score goals on them,” Holmberg said. “While we’re certainly not looking to run their goalie, we want to make things very difficult for her and generate as many pucks towards the net as we can.”
Friday’s game against Guelph will mark the Gaels’ return to the Memorial Centre, after playing their first three games of 2015 on the road. So far this season, the team is perfect in Kingston, winning eight straight contests.
Queen’s hosts the Gryphons at 7:30 p.m. Friday, before taking on the OUA’s winless cellar-dweller, the Brock Badgers (0-12-3), the following night.
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