Hockey holds on to top spot in Mid-East Division

Ryan Gibb makes 40 saves in 4-1 win over Laurier; Boyd earns OUA Player of the Week honours as women sweep Toronto road trip

Queen’s goalie Ryan Gibb makes one of his 40 saves Saturday.
Queen’s goalie Ryan Gibb makes one of his 40 saves Saturday.
Photo supplied by Michael Parkinson

The women’s hockey team appears to be turning the page from its early season struggles, earning two road victories over York University and the University of Toronto last weekend.

Second-year forward Liz Kench scored two goals and added one assist over the two games, while goaltender Katie Boyd made 60 saves on the weekend. Kench is now sixth in league scoring with 11 goals and 23 points in 19 games.

On Saturday the Gaels fell behind 1-0 to the Lions, but Kench set up Victoria Kaufmann to tie the game two minutes into the second period and put the Gaels ahead 2-1 with a goal of her own 10 minutes later. Kelsey Thomson scored the eventual game-winner in the third period.

Head coach Rob Lalonde said the team showed more focus coming back from the holiday.

“The girls have a renewed enthusiasm and have just decided to play a full 60 minutes of hockey, which we weren’t doing. We had lapses and let teams back into games, we’d blow leads … just an overall greater effort and playing with much more enthusiasm and intensity, commitment to reducing mistakes.”

Buoyed by Saturday’s performance, the team stormed to a gutsy 3-2 win Sunday over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, ranked sixth nationally.

Despite being outshot 11-7 in the first period, the Gaels emerged with a 2-0 lead behind goals from Kench and captain Cassie Sparks.

The Varsity Blues battled to tie the score in the second period, but with just over two minutes remaining in the period, Queen’s forward Kori Cembal scored a power-play goal to put the Gaels ahead for good.

In the third period, Boyd showed the form that earned her OUA Athlete of the Week honours, turning 12 Blues shots away as the Gaels were outshot 12-2.

Lalonde said Boyd’s play stole the Toronto game for Queen’s and may have an edge on Melissa John, with whom she normally splits time.

“I think it certainly puts Katie in the driver’s seat,” he said. “She really stole that Toronto game for us.”

Boyd said U of T’s surge was expected, and the Gaels did well to repel them.

“I don’t think we had a lapse, I think Toronto had really picked up the intensity. Their coach probably screamed at them in the intermission, and they’re a team that never gives up.”

This weekend was the first in which Boyd played both games. She said she finds it easier to focus with more minutes.

“I’d rather play more games in a row—it keeps you focused and in the game; it’s easier for me to play when I’m getting a lot of ice time.”

The two wins even the womens’ record at 8-8-3, good for fourth in the OUA.

The men’s team maintained a one-point lead for first in the Mid-East Division by splitting their weekend home games. The men dropped a 5-2 decision to 10th-ranked Waterloo on Friday before a rousing 4-1 win against Laurier the following night.

On Friday at Napanee, the Gaels allowed three third-period goals, including two in 14 seconds scored by Kyle Pellerin and David Edgeworth. Blake Pronk and Jeff Ovens, who tied a career high in points, replied for Queen’s.

Coach Brett Gibson thought his team played well overall despite the score.

“We played 56 minutes of good hockey and went to sleep for four minutes, and good teams like Waterloo will put you away. We weren’t as bad as the score indicated.”

Saturday at the Memorial Centre the Gaels faced the Laurier Golden Hawks.

The Hawks came out firing, outshooting the Gaels 14-4 with Queen’s goalie Ryan Gibb forced to make several key saves.

The Gaels came to life in the second period, with defenceman Grant Horvath scoring just 36 seconds in. Ovens notched the eventual winner in his 120th game as a Golden Gael, passing former captain Brad Walford for most games as a Golden Gael.

Brady Olsen and Jon Lawrance, into an empty net, rounded out the scoring.

Ovens said his eight goals and six assists thus far, good for second in team scoring, are simply a function of coach Gibson giving him a larger role.

“For the first time I’ve been playing every situation,” he said. “In the past I was just a checker, but I’m expected to put up numbers now.”

Gibson said Ovens’s play doesn’t surprise him.

“He’s the ultimate competitor and that pushed him in every aspect of his game. He used to be a grinder, but he’s probably our best overall player right now.”

Having split time between Gibb and rookie Brady Morrison all season, Gibson said he will soon favour one over the other.

“Ryan is the best goalie in the league for a reason. … But Brady deserves every start he gets.

“I needed to get both goalies’ games ready. Now I’m going to find my number one the second half of the season.”

The men travel this weekend to Windsor to face the Lancers in two games, while the women play host to the Brock Badgers Friday in Napanee and Saturday at the Memorial Centre at 8:30 p.m.

Lalonde said he fully expects the women to collect four points this weekend to continue their climb up the standings.

“We expect to come out hard against Brock and to win both games,” he said.

“We have to.”

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