Gaels meet their Waterloo

Women's hockey out of playoffs after semifinal loss to Laurier

For the second time this season, the women’s hockey team held the league-leading Laurier Golden Hawks scoreless for 60 minutes Saturday thanks to another stellar goaltending performance from Melissa John.

But this time it wasn’t enough to keep their playoff run alive: the Gaels’ 1-0 overtime loss in Waterloo gave the Hawks a sweep of their three-game semifinal series.

The Gaels were severe underdogs against the Hawks, who finished the regular-season 23-2-2-0 and were ranked third in Canada going into the playoffs. Laurier allowed an OUA-low 14 shots per game this season, and scored an average of 3.73 goals per game while allowing only 0.92.

Queen’s emerged from the regular season with a record of 12-9-6-0, but was one of only two teams to beat the Hawks this year and the only team to shut them out.

On Saturday, the Gaels couldn’t beat Laurier goalie Liz Knox, who’s ranked second in the country in both goals-against-average and save percentage.

They lost at 8:08 of overtime on a power-play goal by Hawk forward Lauren Barch, who finished second in Ontario with 32 regular-season points.

John, who tied for fourth in Canada with an outstanding .932 regular-season save percentage, stopped an impressive 35 shots Saturday. In the previous night’s semifinal opener in Napanee, she made 43 saves in a 3-1 Gaels’ loss.

After Friday’s game, forward Andrea LeBlanc said the Gaels were going to try to reduce the 16 penalty minutes they recorded in that game, primarily thanks to obstruction penalties such as hooking, and get more shots on Knox—they only recorded 16 in Friday's game.

“We need to stay out of the penalty box and get some more offence,” she said. “[Getting] shots is an issue with this team.”

Head coach Rob Lalonde said Friday the number of penalties Queen’s took in the opener concerned him.

“Some penalties on our part led to their power-play goal,” he said. “It’s a bit of a concern, especially the nature of the penalties: the hooking and so on, lazy-type penalties. We have to do a better job of keeping our feet moving.”

The Gaels made no improvement in either area Saturday, though. They racked up another 16 penalty minutes—10 for hooking, four for interference and two on an overtime tripping penalty that led to Barch’s goal—and again only recorded 16 shots. A few of their shots came in overtime, leaving them with three less shots in regulation than they achieved the night before.

This was the first year OUA women’s hockey featured a three-game semifinal series. In previous years, the two quarter-final winners faced off against the first- and second-ranked teams in single-game semifinals. The winners—Queen’s and Laurier, last season—went on to a single-game final while the losers faced off in a bronze-medal match. Last year Queen's lost to Laurier and came away with a silver medal.

This season Laurier will face the University of Toronto Varsity Blues—last year’s bronze medallists and winners of the other semi-final series against the Guelph Gryphons. Without a third-place match, the Gaels and Gryphons will prepare for next year.

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