Conroy helps close out UOIT

The team takes its fourth win in the last five games to move up in the standings

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The women’s hockey team have faced strong competition from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks this season. A 1-0 overtime win was followed by a 4-0 loss to UOIT earlier in the season. In their third and final game of the season, the Gaels beat the Ridgebacks 4-1 at the Memorial Centre on Friday.

Head coach Matt Holmberg said Queen’s was prepared for a battle after their previous two close games.

“UOIT is a very hardworking team and [they] had beaten us already this year so we knew we’d be in for a tough game,” he said. “There were a few things that were identified that we need to continue to work on. Most notably our defensive zone coverage and making sure we get the puck out of our zone when given the opportunity.”

Mel Dodd-Moher and Karissa Savage split goaltending duties during the game, with Savage taking over about halfway through the second period. On a regular weekend, the Queen’s coaching staff has generally divided the play of the two goaltenders between the two games. With only one game slated for the weekend, Holmberg said they made the decision prior to the game to switch goaltenders at the halfway point.

“From our perspective, we’ve got two good goaltenders,” he said. “We want to make sure that both are ready to go come playoff time. Because it was our only game that weekend, we decided it’d probably be a good idea just to split it.”

The Gaels showed energy to start the game, peppering the UOIT goalie with 15 shots in the first period. They capitalized on the opportunities and scored two goals from forwards Morgan McHaffie and Becky Conroy in the strong early effort.

“Coming out of the gate [and] applying pressure early is something that we’ve really been trying to focus on in the last few games,” Holmberg said. “It’s something that’s starting to show in terms of shots on net and number of goals we’re scoring.”

Conroy added another goal in the second and rookie Shawna Griffin ended the scoring midway through the third with help from defenceman Kerstin van Bolderen. Holmberg said it’s important for the Gaels to keep their energy up for the entire game.

“The part we want to make sure to focus on ... is maintaining that pressure and not letting up when we get a one or two goal lead, even bearing down further at that point,” he said.

Conroy had two goals, bringing her to seven since her return to the line-up on Jan. 8.

“I won’t lie and say that we didn’t miss [Conroy] when she was hurt,” he said. “But you know when she was gone we had other people certainly contributing.”

Conroy was injured in the first game of the season and has since rejoined her fifth-year teammates Kelsey Thomson and Liz Kench on a line, who compiled six points on Friday.

“In terms of that line, [it] showed chemistry right from our very first game after Christmas against Waterloo,” he said. “They certainly do have some familiarity and obviously we’ve been happy with their offensive contributions since we put them together. Having said that we’ve been getting contributions from all three lines and what we’ve got now is some good balance on all three actually. Any given night we can have all three or any of the lines can help us out.”

The Gaels have tough competition to close the regular season. Queen’s currently sits in fifth, tied with the University of Toronto. The Gaels will look to move up in the standings against Brock and Guelph this weekend, who are second and third in the OUA respectively.

“We’re trying to treat every game as though it was a one game quarter-final playoff ... and gearing it up for that way because they are big games against strong opponents,” he said. “The key for us is to get that early jump and keep our focus for a full 60 minutes.”

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