Staying on track

Gaels clinch early playoff berth with two wins

Brittany McHaffie potted a pair in Saturday’s comeback win against York.
Brittany McHaffie potted a pair in Saturday’s comeback win against York.
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The women’s hockey team is back on top in the OUA.

The Gaels opened 2013 with a 3-1 win over the UOIT Ridgebacks (8-8-2) Friday night before topping the York Lions (4-11-3) 5-2 Saturday.

“I thought we looked really sharp,” winger Courtenay Jacklin said. “We all came out strong to start the second half of the season.”

The two wins clinched a playoff spot for the Gaels, who are neck-and-neck with the Laurier Golden Hawks (15-1-2) for first place.

“At this point it’s [taking] every game, one at a time,” head coach Matt Holmberg said, who’s preparing the team for the OUA post-season in February.

A scoreless first period against the Ridgebacks saw the Gaels dominate shots 15-2. Holmberg credited the flustering Ridgebacks defensive strategy off the start.

“They do a good job of really collapsing low in towards the net. It’s tough to get shots through when they’re doing that defensively,” he said.

Queen’s breakthrough happened with goals 56 seconds apart in the second, with Taryn Pilon scoring the eventual game-winner on the power play.

“I asked them to work hard … and try to stay out of the box,” Holmberg said. “As we move into the next part of the season, special teams are going to be a huge part of wins and losses.”

Saturday’s 5-2 win saw the Lions hold a 2-1 lead in the second period, before Kristen Smith’s power play goal kick-started the Gaels’ comeback. The McHaffie twins took over the third period, with winger Brittany scoring a pair and centre Morgan contributing three points.

The Gaels now have seven games remaining in their season, including road games against two teams in the CIS top ten, Guelph and Western.

“We’re either battling a team that’s close to us in the standings or teams that are trying to stay in the playoff hunt,” Holmberg said.

The team’s next game is against the Toronto Varsity Blues on Saturday. The Gaels are 1-0-1 against Toronto this year.

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