Women’s hockey picks up points

Gaels end five-game losing streak with two goals from Morgan McHaffie against Warriors

Forward Kelsey Thomson races for the puck against a Laurier player in their 3-1 loss Saturday.
Forward Kelsey Thomson races for the puck against a Laurier player in their 3-1 loss Saturday.
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After a tough start to their season, the women’s hockey team appears ready to climb back up the OUA standings. The sixth-place Gaels enjoyed a winning weekend at home, defeating the Waterloo Warriors 4-2 on Friday and battling with the first-place Laurier Golden Hawks in a tightly contested 3-1 loss on Saturday.

Forward Elizabeth Kench opened up the scoring against Waterloo in the first period with Morgan McHaffie adding a pair of goals in the second to give the Gaels a three goal advantage. The Warriors answered back with a late powerplay goal at the end of the second.

The other McHaffie sister, Brittany, found the back of the net to take a dominating 4-1 lead over Waterloo. Waterloo scored at the end of the second but the goal proved too late to be decisive.

Gaels head coach Matt Holmberg said the win was important to the team.

“It was a good come-out game for us,” he said. “We’ve been struggling, needing a win and the girls pulled it together. And as a team, [we] worked hard and [it] got us that win that we really needed to get us out of the slump. [It] was a key game.”

The game’s statistics suggested little struggling as the Gaels outshot Waterloo by more than a two-to-one margin, 33-16. Gaels goaltender, Karissa Savage didn’t see much action, stopping 14 of the 16 shots she faced.

Though the Gaels were happy with their game against the last place Warriors, it was the tight loss to the 11-1-0 Golden Hawks that provided the team with the real confidence boost. Early in the tilt the Gaels had an odd-man rush on the Golden Hawks’ goal, looking like they were about to take the lead. However, after a good save and a quick transition to the Gaels end, it was Laurier that took the 1-0 advantage.

Despite having their best opportunity reversed on them in the early going, the Gaels didn’t lose their composure. The game became a low scoring scuffle the rest of the way. The shots went 12-11 in Laurier’s favour in the second as both teams tried to find the back of the net.

Holmberg said the margins of error were very small.

“[The difference in the game was] a matter of inches,” he said. “Both goalies played really well, they had a couple of opportunities where a bounce went their way and in a game like that, that’s all it takes.”

The Gaels accumulated chances with three breakaways and numerous odd-man opportunities, yet no one could find the back of the net. The score remained 1-0 until late in the third when Laurier scored shorthanded. The Golden Hawks would tally again just two minutes later on a power play to solidify the win. However, the Gaels persisted to get a consolation goal with five minutes remaining to end the game 3-1. Gaels goaltender Mel Dodd-Moher, who stopped 39 of 42 shots, said the game came down to chances.

“I’m proud of the team because we stood with them,” she said. “Obviously they are a really good team and we were right with them the whole game. Unfortunately they got a couple of lucky bounces at the end there. In the end I’m happy because we stuck with them and we’ll beat them when it counts.”

The close game with Laurier may signal that the Gaels are ready to turn their slow start around. They currently hold a record of 5-6-3, their nine losses exceeding the team’s total losses from last season when they finished 19-5-3, placing second in the OUA.

But Dodd-Moher said the team’s confidence is returning after the weekend’s action.

“I think in the dressing room we have more positive energy,” she said. “I think we are more excited to play now. No one likes losing so you get a couple of wins and you get more confidence and everyone is more happy and excited to play. The momentum is going in our favour.”

The Gaels will be back in action at the Memorial Centre on Dec. 3 against the Windsor Lancers at 8:30 p.m.

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