Top-scoring twins

McHaffies emerge as women’s hockey team’s primary scorers

Morgan (right) and Brittany McHaffie are the women's hockey team's top scorers this season. Morgan currently leads the OUA with 34 points.
Morgan (right) and Brittany McHaffie are the women's hockey team's top scorers this season. Morgan currently leads the OUA with 34 points.
Gaels centre Morgan McHaffie is averaging almost two points per game this season.
Gaels centre Morgan McHaffie is averaging almost two points per game this season.

Henrik and Daniel Sedin might be the hockey world’s top twins. But the women’s hockey team is pretty satisfied with Morgan and Brittany McHaffie.

The third-year twins from Guelph are the Gaels’ top forwards this season. After 21 regular-season games, Morgan leads the OUA with 34 points. Brittany is in 13th place with 23 points, but she was in fifth spot before missing four games due to injury.

They’re linemates — Morgan plays centre and Brittany’s a right winger. Head coach Matt Holmberg said the twins have a special sense for each other on the ice.

“Brittany does a lot more digging in the corners, whereas Morgan finds herself in open ice a bit more,” he said. “They have different skill sets, but they complement each other very well.”

During their first two seasons with the team, the twins played behind veteran forwards Elizabeth Kench, Becky Conroy and Kelsey Thomson. With those players expected to produce goals, the McHaffies could comfortably contribute as secondary players.

This is the twins’ first season as the team’s primary scorers. Holmberg said two seasons with veteran players helped the McHaffies become leaders.

“The experience they’ve gained in the last couple years has been great,” Holmberg said. “Not only did they experience all of the highs that we had last year in the playoffs, but they were big contributors to our success.”

Holmberg was the team’s assistant coach when the Gaels first recruited the twins in 2008. But after graduating from high school that spring, they both decided to spend an extra year in Guelph to save money for university.

Holmberg said he continued pursuing the twins when he was named head coach before the 2009-10 season.

“The summer after I took over as head coach, I went and visited them in Guelph,” he said. “They were still very eager to come to Queen’s.”

Morgan said the twins didn’t expect to become regular contributors so quickly.

“I thought we would … start maybe on the third or fourth line,” she said. “But we were just pretty lucky to get the opportunity to play with some of the top players [right away].”

With the McHaffies leading the charge this season, the Gaels ended 2011 at third place in the OUA. But Brittany injured her knee in practice before the Jan. 6 loss to the York Lions — she missed four games and played injured for another.

The Gaels only won once in that span. Since then, they’ve dropped from third to fifth in the OUA standings and are only five points ahead of the ninth-place Waterloo Warriors.

Morgan held onto the OUA scoring lead in her sister’s absence, but only recorded a goal and three assists without her — well below her average of 1.96 points per game before the injury.

The Gaels’ power play has also suffered without Brittany. The unit had a 16.6 percent success rate before she got hurt, but went two for 26 — less than eight per cent — in her absence.

Brittany returned to the lineup last weekend against the Western Mustangs and Windsor Lancers. She said she was surprised to return so quickly.

“About two weeks ago it felt like I wasn’t going to be able to play [for] a long time,” Brittany said. “[But] I was really surprised at how much less [my knee] hurt compared to last weekend.” The Gaels lost twice last weekend despite scoring a power-play goal in both games. But Brittany said she’s recovering quickly and hopes to play this weekend against the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks and the Waterloo Warriors.

“It’s a little sore after playing two games,” she said. “But on the ice with the adrenaline, I barely felt it.”

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