First game jitters

Less than stellar performance leads to overtime loss

The Gaels lost their season opener in overtime for the second consecutive year, after UOIT defenceman Melissa Berney’s shot was deflected past Mel Dodd-Moher.
The Gaels lost their season opener in overtime for the second consecutive year, after UOIT defenceman Melissa Berney’s shot was deflected past Mel Dodd-Moher.

A rebuilt women’s hockey team came up just short in their season opener Friday.

Queen’s lost 2-1 in overtime to the UOIT Ridgebacks at the Memorial Centre, falling to a team they beat twice last season.

The Gaels had a strong first period, but struggled in the later part of the game, often failing to connect on passes. Head coach Matt Holmberg said his team didn’t play up to their capabilities, which contributed to the loss.

“UOIT is a good, hard-working team, and if we don’t play our best, they’re going to make us pay,” Holmberg said. “As a team, we did not play our best and they took advantage of it.”

The Gaels were also hurt by a poor breakout, neutral-zone turnovers and a failure to consistently establish possession in the offensive zone.

Special teams became an important part of the game for the Gaels, as each team was heavily penalized. While winger Taryn Pilon scored a first-period power play goal, the Gaels were unable to get another power play tally, despite having seven other chances.

Holmberg said the team needed to simplify their plays while on the advantage.

“I think we were trying to make too fancy of a play,” he said, “when a simple couple of passes and getting the puck to the net would have worked.”

Queen’s fared much better when they were down a player, successfully killing off four of five shorthanded situations.

UOIT’s Samantha Forchielli beat Gaels goaltender Mel Dodd-Moher on a scramble in front of the Queen’s net on an early second-period power play, tying the game at 1-1.

Neither team generated many scoring chances for the rest of regulation, but when the opportunities arose, both goalies stood tall.

In overtime, a deflected point shot got past Dodd-Moher, giving Queen’s their second consecutive season-opening overtime loss.

“[Dodd-Moher] played great all game. It was probably a seeing-eye shot that was going to have to beat her,” Holmberg said. “We need to get out to the [defence] a little bit better and stop those shots.”

Holmberg said the improvements the team needs to make at this point are more mental than skill-based.

“We need to play with a little more urgency and purpose and play with confidence,” he said. “I know the execution and skills are there.”

Captain Morgan McHaffie said that heading forward, the team needs to improve on the defensive side of the game and use their strong skating abilities.

“There were a few shifts where we weren’t on them as quick as we wanted to, forcing them to the outside,” she said. “We’re a good skating team and we’re in good shape, so we know we can outskate them.”

The Gaels’ next games are on Thanksgiving weekend, when they host the Nipissing Lakers and Laurentian Voyageurs. It will serve as the inaugural meeting between the schools and Queen’s, as both hockey programs were established this year.

“I’m looking forward to playing them this weekend,” McHaffie said. “[They’re the] new teams in the league and we’re not going to take them lightly at all.”

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