Split on weekend trip

Gaels blanked by Guelph, beat Badgers in close contest

Women’s hockey suffered defeat in regulation for the first time this season last weekend.

Facing the Guelph Gryphons on the road last Saturday, the Gaels couldn’t muster up any offence in a 1-0 loss. They rebounded the next day, defeating the Brock Badgers 4-3 on the heels of a second period scoring burst.

Head coach Matt Holmberg said the Gaels (6-1-2) went into the Guelph (5-1-1) game expecting it to be close, noting that the team ran into a strong goalie in the Gryphons’ Stephanie Nehring.

“Their goalie is a fourth-year vet and is consistently one of the top goalies in the league,” Holmberg said. “She made some great saves to preserve the shutout.”

The Gaels fell behind early, as Guelph’s Brittany St. James took advantage of a defensive miscue just over five minutes into the contest and scored the game’s only goal.

Queen’s played from behind from that point on. While the Gaels had chances to even up the score, Holmberg said they just weren’t able to beat Nehring.

“I think we had some good opportunities to get a point or two, but we just couldn’t find the back of the net,” he said.

The Gaels’ fortunes were reversed the next night when they topped winless Brock (0-5-2). Holmberg said the team was confident they could bounce back from three straight losses.

“Before the game we reflected that after the Guelph game, that was a third of our season and we were 5-1-2, which was a pretty good record,” he said. “So I think we came into the Brock game feeling fairly confident.”

While the score was tied 1-1 after the opening frame, Holmberg said Queen’s had their strongest opening to a game this season. After the Badgers took the lead midway through the second period on a power play goal, the Gaels went off for three goals in an eight-minute span.

Forwards Addi Halladay and Shawna Griffin and defenceman Amber Sealey all scored, with Halladay and Griffin’s goals coming on the power play. Brock managed another goal in the third period, but couldn’t net the equalizer.

“The players didn’t lose confidence or hope and kept battling,” Holmberg said. “And they were able to get the win.”

Third-string goaltender Claire Warren saw her first action with the Gaels against Brock, stopping 30 of the 33 shots that came her way. The first-year was pressed into service after Caitlyn Lahonen and Stephanie Pascal went down with illnesses.

“That’s why we carry three goalies. Claire had her equipment with her and she started the game,” Holmberg said. “For her first CIS experience, particularly on short notice, we thought she did a great job.”

The Gaels currently sit second in the tightly contested OUA just over a third of the way through the season, with five points separating the top eight teams. Queen’s leads the league in both goals for and against per game, as they enter a stretch of the season that will see them face tough competition.

They host the UOIT Ridgebacks (5-3-1) tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Holmberg said the Gaels need to play their style of game to come out on top.

“I think the key for us is to focus on our game and how we want to play,” he said. “Keep skating through any physical play and hopefully the ref will call them so we can capitalize on the power play.”

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