Women's hockey knocked out of playoffs

Gaels swept in first round by Lakers

Considered an early season title favourite, women's hockey exited the playoffs without winning a game.
Considered an early season title favourite, women's hockey exited the playoffs without winning a game.
Journal File Photo

A third period comeback wasn’t in the cards for the women’s hockey team, as they bowed out of the post season on Friday night.

The Gaels fell 3-2 to the Nipissing Lakers in the second game of the quarterfinal playoffs, two nights after dropping the series opener 2-1 in overtime against the same opponent. The sweep at the hands of the Lakers marks the second straight quarterfinal exit for Queen’s after two straight trips to the OUA finals.

Head coach Matt Holmberg said he wasn’t surprised by how tight the series was, since the Gaels finished a point ahead of Nipissing in the regular season standings.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed that we didn’t come out on the right side of the ledger,” he said after game two. “But we had our chances to win the game on Wednesday and we had some chances to put it away early in this game, and didn’t quite capitalize on those.”

After giving up the opening goal a minute into game one’s second period, the Gaels responded quickly with a tally from forward Addi Halladay. The remainder of regulation would be scoreless, setting the stage for Nipissing’s Bronwyn Bolduc to record the overtime winner.

Friday’s game took a different turn, as the two teams battled in a physical contest.

The Gaels failed to score on three first-period power plays, keeping a scoreless tie intact through 20 minutes.

In a span of five minutes, Nipissing racked up three goals in the second frame, storming out to a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

After the flurry from the Lakers, Holmberg spoke to his team about battling back.

“I just asked the players, ‘you’ve got a choice. You can keep battling and try to win this game or you can end the season now,’” he said.

“I was looking into their eyes when I asked that … I could see the fire in their eyes. They were all very hungry.”

The talk worked — forward Nadia Larocca cut the Gaels’ 3-0 deficit to two late in the period. Midway through the third, co-captain Mary Coughlin’s power play marker brought Queen’s within one. However, despite pulling goaltender Caitlyn Lahonen for the extra attacker, the Gaels couldn’t score, ending the game and their season.

For six players, the game marked the final time they’d hang up their Queen’s sweaters. Forwards Courtenay Jacklin and Taryn Pilon, defencemen Alisha Sealey and Danielle Girard, and Lahonen and Coughlin played their final games for the Gaels.

With the veterans’ departure, the Gaels head into the 2016-17 campaign without any members of the original 2013 OUA championship team. For Holmberg, the contributions of those six players were important to the squad.

“They certainly do bring a ton of experience and leadership both on and off the ice. They’re going to be missed greatly,” he said. “I could talk about each of them for hours, to be honest.”

While the loss of experience is a blow for the Gaels, this season showed the future is still bright for the team. Rookie Katrina Manoukarakis led all players with 15 goals and 25 points, and Queen’s power play led the OUA, producing at a 21.1 per cent clip.

“Bigger picture, I think it was a solid season,” Holmberg said. “I think the girls worked hard and probably deserved a bit of a better fate.”

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