Fourth-place finish

Playoff showdown with Windsor up next

Gaels captain Morgan McHaffie set up a pair of goals against the Ryerson Rams to finish her time at Queen's with 153 career points.
Gaels captain Morgan McHaffie set up a pair of goals against the Ryerson Rams to finish her time at Queen's with 153 career points.

A third straight weekend split dropped women’s hockey to fourth in the OUA heading into the playoffs.

Queen’s beat the Ryerson Rams (5-18-1) 4-2 on Saturday but fell short against Toronto (18-5-1) in the next day’s showdown for third place in Ontario.

With the loss, the Gaels (16-4-4) will now face fifth-place Windsor (14-8-2) in the OUA quarterfinals. The teams split their season series, with both teams winning on home ice.

“It’s going to be a long road trip to Windsor to start the playoffs and they always play very tough at home, so it’s definitely going to be no cakewalk,” said head coach Matt Holmberg. “We’re still learning as a team, but I felt that the team grew a lot these past three weekends where we played three top teams and could easily have won any of the games.”

On Saturday, the Gaels survived a shaky first period to earn a 4-2 victory on the road against the Rams.

Ryerson opened the scoring just 29 seconds into the game, courtesy of forward Janella Brodett. Queen’s responded with veteran centre Shawna Griffin’s team-leading 13th goal of the season at the 3:45 mark of the first period.

Blueliner Alisha Sealey then scored to give the Gaels a 2-1 lead, but the Rams responded with just 1:17 left in the period, leaving the two teams deadlocked at 2-2 after 20 minutes.

While the Gaels dominated possession in the second period, outshooting the Rams 17-4, Queen’s was unable to beat Ryerson goaltender Emma Crawley, who stood tall in her net.

It took until the 4:05 mark of the third period for Queen’s to break the stalemate, with rookie Clare McKellar scoring her 10th of the season. Fellow rookie Megan Farrell put the game away with an empty-netter, while Queen’s captain Morgan McHaffie added two assists on the day.

“It was a bit of a sloppy game because it was pretty warm in the rink so the puck was bouncing everywhere, and then Ryerson ended up scoring on the only shot they had for a long time,” Holmberg said. “But we rebounded well and were able to get the two points.”

On Sunday, Queen’s lost 2-1 versus Toronto despite holding a 1-0 lead heading into the third period. For the second time in two games, Sealey scored 13 minutes into the first period.

The one-goal lead would hold up for over 32 minutes, as Queen’s outplayed the Varsity Blues in the first two periods of the game, outshooting Toronto 26-17.

The tide turned early in the third period, however, when Blues forward Alie Brind'Amour-McClure converted on a power-play opportunity. Brind'Amour-McClure added her second of the game just two minutes later, as the Blues took the lead for good.

Queen’s was unable to beat Blues goalie Nicole Kesteris, despite pulling its own goalie with a minute left in the game.

“The first period was one of our best periods all year, but their goalie played great and we had two little lapses in the third period which really cost us,” Holmberg said. “I’m just disappointed that the team wasn’t rewarded for one of their better efforts of the year.”

McHaffie was held pointless against Toronto and ended up two points short of matching the career record of 155 set by former Gael Elizabeth Chiasson.

The Gaels will have home ice advantage in the OUA quarterfinals against Windsor, with game one taking place on Feb. 13.

OUA Quarterfinal Series

1. Guelph Gryphons [21-3-0] vs. 8. Waterloo Warriors [8-11-5]
2. Laurier Golden Hawks [18-3-3] vs. 7. UOIT Ridgebacks [13-10-1]
3. Toronto Varsity Blues [18-5-1] vs. 6. Western Mustangs [14-9-1]
4. Queen’s Gaels [16-4-4] vs. 5. Windsor Lancers [14-8-2]

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