Defence pushes Gaels past Varsity Blues, Rams

Wakefield’s pair beats Toronto, Pascal shuts out Ryerson

Gaels captain Shawna Griffin recorded three assists in a pair of wins for the Gaels.
Gaels captain Shawna Griffin recorded three assists in a pair of wins for the Gaels.
Rookie goaltender Stephanie Pascal recorded her second career shutout in the Gaels’ 4-0 win over the Ryerson Rams Sunday.
Rookie goaltender Stephanie Pascal recorded her second career shutout in the Gaels’ 4-0 win over the Ryerson Rams Sunday.

Defensive play has been a hallmark for women’s hockey this season, and this weekend’s games continued that trend.

The Gaels (5-0-0) shut down the Toronto Varsity Blues (4-1-0) and Ryerson Rams (1-4-0) on the way to a pair of home victories this weekend.

Jessica Wakefield’s goal with 3:44 remaining in the game proved to be the difference in a 2-1 win over Toronto, while Queen’s shut out their opponent for the third time this year against Ryerson, winning 4-0.

Head coach Matt Holmberg said his team’s commitment to defence helped power both wins, though he added that the Gaels could still improve in certain areas.

“It’s not just the defence. I think as a team, we’re defensive hockey. I still think there are times, like in the game against Toronto, where we’re giving up a little bit too many shots,” he said. “I think we do need to help out our goalies a little bit more, but overall I couldn’t be more thrilled with the fact that we’ve allowed three goals in five games. That’s amazing.”

The defensive side of the game proved important against Toronto, as the Gaels had difficulties getting the puck on net. While Wakefield opened the scoring midway through the opening frame, the Gaels struggled for most of the second period, looking sluggish at points.

After a late second-period Blues goal knotted things up, Wakefield had the opportunity to play hero. It was a bonus for the winger, as the two goals were her first points of the year.

Gaels goaltender Caitlyn Lahonen stood tall in net, stopping 25 shots for the win.

Holmberg said the team talked during the second intermission about getting back to their style of play.

“We had a little chat with the team between the second and the third and everyone agreed that we had gotten away from our game. We weren’t getting the puck deep,” he said. “We just needed to get back to Gaels hockey in the third period and that’s what the girls did.”

The Gaels played a fairly similar game in their meeting with the Rams, using their defensive skill to their advantage. Once again, though, Holmberg said the team didn’t play a full 60 minutes, failing to reach their usual level in the opening period.

Netminder Stephanie Pascal kept the Gaels on point during the first period, stopping all nine shots she faced. The rookie made 20 saves on the way to her second shutout in two games with the team.

Queen’s was also helped by a strong penalty kill, successfully warding off all seven situations they faced over the weekend.

Queen’s turned things around in the middle frame against Ryerson, scoring a trio of goals. Wingers Clare McKellar and Addi Halladay got the Gaels on the board, before rookie defenceman Amber Sealey netted her first CIS goal.

“It’s really exciting,” Sealey said. “At first I didn’t even know it went in and then my teammates came up to me.”

Taryn Pilon added her league-leading sixth goal of the season midway through the third. Captain Shawna Griffin and winger Courtenay Jacklin each added a pair of assists in the win.

The Gaels head up north this weekend to face the Nipissing Lakers (2-3-1) and the Laurentian Lady Vees (0-5-1). Sealey said defence will continue to be key for Queen’s.

“Our D has definitely been an important factor in our games, so we’ve just had to have a strong D core to always break it out of our zone, to keep it away from our goalie,” she said. “As long as we keep our D strong, we can work together to make it work in the end.”

OUA Women’s Hockey Standings

1. Queen’s (5-0-0) – 10 pts

T-2. Western (4-0-1) – 9 pts

T-2. Windsor (4-0-1) – 9 pts

T-4. Laurier (4-1-0) – 8 pts

T-4. Toronto (4-1-0) – 8 pts

6. Guelph (3-0-1) – 7 pts

7. York (3-3-0) – 6 pts

8. Nipissing (2-3-1) – 5 pts

9. Waterloo (1-1-3) – 5 pts

10. UOIT (2-3-0) – 4 pts

11. Ryerson (1-4-0) – 2 pts

12. Brock (0-2-2) – 2 pts

13. Laurentian (0-5-1) – 1 pts

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