Women’s hockey reins in Mustangs

Wins pair of games to take home inaugural Boys and Girls Club Cup

Gaels goaltender Claire Hunt tracks the puck against Western.
Gaels goaltender Claire Hunt tracks the puck against Western.
Photo by Jon Wilinofsky
The Gaels corralled the Western Mustangs in a pair of games this weekend.
The Gaels corralled the Western Mustangs in a pair of games this weekend.
Photo by Jon Wilinofsky

Women’s hockey came away with two strong wins at home against the Western Mustangs this weekend. The Gaels won 3-0 on Saturday and held on for a 2-1 victory on Sunday to even their record at 2-2.

On Saturday, the Gaels dominated Western, outshooting them 36-16. Captain Molly Groenewegen had a statement game, scoring all three Queen’s goals to complete the hat trick.

Head coach Harold Parsons said he was very impressed with his captain’s performance. He added that her hat trick was fitting given that the weekend’s games formed the inaugural Boys and Girls Club Cup, which the team hopes will become an annual tradition with Western. Each year, the winner of the series between the two teams will take a trophy home to their local Boys and Girls Club. Queen’s bused about 60 kids from the Kingston club to the game to cheer the team on.

“We have nine rookies, and [Groenewegen] is a fifth-year player, so there’s a huge gap,” said Parsons, who is also the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club. “We’re delighted with her contribution. [Groenewegen] also does a lot of work at the Boys and Girls Club, so it couldn’t have been more fitting for her to perform the way she did.”

Third-year goaltender Claire Hunt registered the shutout for Queen’s. Parsons said that although the team does not have a clear starter—with rookie Melissa John also performing well—Hunt has made a strong case for herself with some sharp play.

“We haven’t established a number one goalie,” he said. “Certainly [Hunt] established herself with the shutout [on Saturday]. We will go with whoever is performing. It’s [John’s] job to challenge [Hunt].”

Hunt returned to the net Sunday afternoon and led the charge once more as the Gaels again shut down the Mustangs. Queen’s outshot the Mustangs again—this time by a count of 27-18—and rode a first-period powerplay goal by Victoria Kaufmann and another goal by Groenewegen early in the third period to victory. The lone Mustangs goals came at 11:56 of the first period.

Tempers flared at the end of the game as a scrum erupted in the dying seconds. No penalties were awarded and time expired. The referee, however, decided to put two seconds back on the clock and conduct a faceoff in the neutral zone, which resulted in more pushing and shoving.

The Gaels, last season’s OUA bronze medal-winning squad, played exceptionally well late in the season, but was plagued by a 0-4 start which left them behind the eight-ball. Parsons said it was crucial for the team to have a stronger start this season.

“This year, we’re not expected to be the same team,” he said, commenting on the loss of several top scorers and the team’s planned change in their style of play. “It’s very important for us to be at .500.”

Second-year forward Andrea Leblanc also said she thinks this weekend’s games against the Mustangs were crucial after two losses last weekend in their opening games against McGill.

“It definitely helped that we got back up to .500,” she said. “We need to build on what we have.”

Parsons said he is particularly excited by the play of Leblanc, who he thinks has made great strides from last season.

“Andrea Leblanc has probably been one of our best players,” he added. “She said she feels more focused this year. She’s stepped it up.”

On display against Western was the Gaels’ new defensive philosophy, which Parsons said he feels will help the team keep up with the competition. In the second period of the game on Sunday, the Mustangs managed just three shots on Hunt.

“We have a defence-first philosophy,” he said. “We’ve only given up 17 or 18 shots a game. If you look around the league, most games are being won 2-1 or 3-2, and we have to be that way if we’re going to be competitive.”

Leblanc and Parsons said they are pleased with the way the team has gelled, despite the high turnover in players this offseason.

“We lost a lot of players, but all the players coming in this year can skate fast and play well together,” Leblanc said. “Our team gets along great—the chemistry is great.”

Leblanc said the Gaels are looking forward to testing their new team and new philosophy against several of their rivals.

“We have a history with U of T—we always get pumped for them,” she said. “The defending champs, Laurier, we look forward to because they beat us last year. And Guelph we were able to beat last year, so they’re going to want revenge.”

First, however, the Gaels host the Waterloo Warriors for a pair of games at Jock Harty Arena this weekend. Both games begin at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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