Gaels lock playoff spot

Women’s hockey dismantles Lancers and Mustangs to guarantee Gaels’ post-season berth

The women’s hockey team won perhaps their most methodical win of the season on Saturday. Challenged by a desperate Windsor Lancers team, who sit eighth in the OUA, the second-place Gaels rode every punch for a convincing 3-0 win at the Memorial Centre.

Entering the game as the country’s ninth-place team with a playoff spot guaranteed, the Gaels looked to solidify their chances for the first-round bye. The Lancers entered on the fringes of a playoff spot—sitting in eighth, three points away from the sixth and final spot.

Forward Kelsey Thomson, who notched three points to lead the Gaels, said Queen’s wasn’t taking the Lancers lightly.

“We wanted to win so that we could secure second place,” she said. “Windsor has beat some top teams, [like] Toronto. We expected them to come out flying they are still trying to get a playoff spot.”

Although the first period provided little action, ending in a 0-0 stalemate, the Gaels took off in the second. A brief scare from the Lancers was all it took to kickstart the Gaels’ offence. With 2:25 down in the second Windsor seemed to score off a deflection, but the play was ruled a no-goal. The home team dodged a bullet, but wouldn’t let it happen again.

Head coach Matt Holmberg said the no-goal swung momentum in the Gaels’ favour.

“The girls just got the forecheck going and they didn’t allow Windsor to get another chance in our zone.”

The second period ended 3-0 for the Gaels with the shots 20-10. Thomson scored twice and forward Megan McNutt contributed the third. Although the Lancers showed some jump in the third, the Gaels stymied any major opportunities with excellent defensive zone coverage and a crisp breakout. Holmberg said he was pleased with the Gaels’ defensive play.

“That was as close to an exact game [plan] that we’ve played all year. Forecheck was good, the breakout was much better” he said. “Defensive zone coverage and break outs [have been] a major focus [in practice]. We are happy with what we are doing offensively.”

Rookie netminder Mel Dodd-Moher put in another stellar performance against the Lancers, turning aside 31 shots and picking up her 12th win of the season. Entering the game she had an 11-5-1 record with 1.88 goals against average and a .941 save percentage.

Dodd-Moher’s excellent rookie season has been a major contributor to the Gaels’ second place standing. Holmberg said the one-two punch of Dodd-Moher and backup goaltender Karissa Savage, who is 5-0-1, gives the Gaels confidence.

“Both goalies have been good. We feel confident with either goalie in net,” he said.

The Gaels capped off a 4-1 win on Sunday against the sixth-place Western Mustangs. The Gaels outshot the Mustangs 31-16 and got goals from forwards Jess Cone, Liz Kench, Becky Conroy and Alana Smith.

Queen’s will finish off its regular season this weekend in Waterloo when they visit the first-place Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday and the ninth-place Waterloo Warriors on Sunday.

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