Back to winning ways

Gaels ride sterling penalty kill to sweep of Ryerson and York

The women’s hockey team found themselves back on the right track last weekend.

After the Western Mustangs handed Queen’s their first regulation loss on Nov. 4, the Gaels (10-1-1) came back with a 4-1 road victory over the Ryerson Rams (2-7-0) Friday night.

Back in Kingston on Saturday, the team prevailed 3-1 over the York Lions (4-7-1).

Head coach Matt Holmberg was impressed by the team’s ability to regroup after the Western result.

“It was important for the team to move on from [the loss],” he said. “It was a great bounce-back weekend and certainly showed the character of the team.”

The comeback showed from the start against Ryerson, as winger Chantal Morais scored the opening goal just 2:26 into the game. It was the fourth time this year the Gaels opened the scoring in the first five minutes of the game.

Centre Shawna Griffin scored just 98 seconds later to double the Gaels’ lead.

Winger Courtenay Jacklin potted two goals and left winger Taryn Pilon added three assists. Goaltender Melanie Dodd-Moher had 27 saves for the victory.

Saturday’s game had fewer penalties, but still saw the Gaels continue their hard-nosed playing style and grit.

Down 1-0 in the second period, the offense mustered three goals and goaltender Karissa Savage made 21 saves to record the win.

“York is a team that plays us tough every time [and] we knew it would be close,” Holmberg said.

An improving penalty kill helped the Gaels. After some early season worries, the unit has been successful on 22 of their last 24 attempts, killing off all 12 shorthanded scenarios this weekend.

“I think the team realized that if we didn’t [improve on the penalty kill], it would cost us some games,” Holmberg said.

The penalty kill was one of the Gaels’ focuses throughout the week, said centre Chelsey Verbeek.

“We’ve been working on it a lot in practice, just working out the kinks, and I think we’re finally starting to have a really solid penalty kill,” she said.

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