Roller-coaster weekend for Gaels

Women’s hockey recovers from a crushing loss against Guelph to beat Brock last weekend at the Memorial Centre

Queen’s forward Kelsey Thomson (72) battles Guelph’s Dayna Kanis for the puck Saturday.
Queen’s forward Kelsey Thomson (72) battles Guelph’s Dayna Kanis for the puck Saturday.

The weekend had nine goals, two shutouts, and a 180-degree turn in the women’s hockey team’s performance during their homestand at the Memorial Centre. They lost 5-0 to the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday night, before coming back and beating the Brock Badgers 4-0 on Sunday afternoon.

The Guelph game started on a high note for the Gaels as they spent the first period engaging a tenacious forecheck and suffocating backcheck and outshooting the Gryphons. Those efforts were undone in the second period, though, when Queen’s came out flat and the away side notched their first goal of the game 35 seconds into the period.

The Gryphons scored another two goals to end out the second as the Gaels couldn’t get any scoring, missing out on converting on two five-on-three power plays and taking only three shots over 20 minutes. The third was no better; another goal 35 seconds into the period for the Gryphons and a final goal less than a minute later meant Gaels’ goaltender Melissa John was pulled from the game. The Gaels were reeling, outscored by five and outshot 41-17.

Head coach Harold Parsons said the team’s loss was the result of a loss of focus.

“We played one good period of hockey; that’s it,” he said. “We just beat them a week before. When we did that, we played our game simple. This time we had girls taking extra long shifts and trying to score goals rather than play the defensive side of the puck.”

Parsons said the loss, which came on the heels of a road victory over Guelph a week earlier, showed that home ice might not be an advantage.

“We’re a decent road team but we have to learn to play at home,” he said. “I think some of the girls decided that since we’re at home, we can take the night off. That’s not the case and is something we’ll be addressing.”

Team captain Cassie Sparks said the flow of the Guelph game didn’t mirror the way that the Gaels had been playing through the season.

“We haven’t had a strong first period showing this year, so this game was different than the rest,” she said. “We didn’t seem to have our legs. That early goal got under our skin. We couldn’t keep going.”

Sparks agreed that the team couldn’t seem to perform during home games.

“I think we play better on the road because once we get on that bus we’re going for the game,” she said. “There’s more distractions at home. We should be comfortable here, we practise here. But we’re not.”

Whatever the problems the Gaels had at home though, they seemed to work them out for Sunday afternoon’s game against Brock.

The Gaels’ top line of Liz Kench, Becky Conroy and Kelsey Thomson, which was performing in fine form in weeks before, got its act back together after being systematically shut down against Guelph, while John got back between the pipes and earned her second shutout of the season.

Thomson got a hat-trick, while Conroy got a goal and an assist and Kench notched a pair of assists.

The Gaels are back at the Memorial Centre this Saturday and Sunday against the Western Mustangs and Windsor Lancers. They play Western at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and face Windsor at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

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