Women’s hockey advances to OUA finals

The Gaels take out seven-time defending OUA Laurier Golden Hawks in two games

The women’s hockey team showed their flair for the dramatic last week as they swept the Laurier Golden Hawks in their best-of-three OUA semifinal, winning both games in double overtime by a score of 2-1. With the wins, the Gaels eliminated the seven-time defending OUA Champions and nationally ranked second Golden Hawks to advance to the OUA Championships against the Guelph Gryphons.

In the first game of the series in Waterloo, Laurier jumped out to a 1-0 lead after the first period before forward Morgan McHaffie replied to level the score after 40 minutes of play. Strong goaltending from Gaels’ netminder Mel Dodd-Moher kept the game even until Brittany McHaffie, twin sister of Morgan, put away a blast 3:24 in to the second overtime to win it for Queen’s.

Game two at the Memorial Centre proved to be another tight-checking affair and was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation. Brittany McHaffie was once again the overtime hero as she scored in double overtime to send the Gaels to their first OUA finals since 2007. Forward Shawna Griffin also found the back of the net for Queen’s and Dodd-Moher stood tall with 24 saves in the win.

Head coach Matt Holmberg said he was thrilled with the effort from his team.

“They just didn’t quit and just didn’t give up,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a tough series, but we also knew that if we stuck to our game plan and played hard that we had every chance of winning.”

Holmberg said that Queen’s remained un-phased and focused in both tight games against their tough opponents.

“There’s a quiet confidence in the dressing room in between periods and on the bench,” he said. “Even though we might get down by one early, the team right now is playing with a sense of purpose and confidence by continuing to put pressure on the other team and get shots on net. They just know that things are going to happen.”

The Gaels have caught fire since the Christmas break, winning 13 of their 15 games in the new year and Holmberg was not going to change a winning formula for this series.

“We looked at game film and a couple of things that [Laurier] did well … but, going in to that series we had won seven in a row, so we weren’t about to change anything drastically we were doing to make ourselves successful,” Holmberg said.

Prior to this season, Queen’s was 0-8 in recent playoff games against the Golden Hawks. However, Holmberg said the team was well prepared for the task at hand.

“Beating Laurier is certainly significant,” he said. “They’ve had our number for a number of years now and they’re a great, great team, Our goal has always been to win the OUA Championships this year and so whether it be in the semifinals or the finals, we knew that at some point we would have to go through Laurier. It feels great.”

Holmberg said it was an outstanding team performance over the series with Dodd-Moher and Brittany McHaffie leading the way for Queen’s.

“We needed everybody who was on that score sheet for us to step up and they all did,” he said. “Mel [Dodd-Moher] has certainly got herself focused right now and throughout the playoffs has been there when we’ve needed that crucial save. Brittany [McHaffie] is a hard, hard working player and it’s nice to see her get rewarded for that hard work with a couple of timely goals. She deserves that for sure.”

Queen’s will now advance to take on the number five nationally ranked Guelph Gryphons in the OUA finals. The Gaels led Guelph with a 2-1 record this season, but the Gryphons knocked Queen’s out of last year’s OUA semifinals.

“Guelph is a great team; they’ve got a lot of offensive weapons. We’re going to need to be very strong and tough in our defensive zone,” he said. “We’re going to need to make sure that we capitalize on the chances that we get. I’m expecting another, as all the playoff games have been, very close and exciting series.”

Game 1 of the series will take place in Guelph on Wednesday, March 2. Game 2 will be at 8:30pm on Friday, March 4 at the Memorial Centre and game 3, if necessary, will take place Sunday, March 6 back in Guelph.

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