Women's hockey split opening weekend

Gaels lose to rival Nipissing, shutout Lions

The Gaels shutout the York Lions this weekend.
The Gaels shutout the York Lions this weekend.

After the Gaels dropped their first round playoff series to the Nipissing Lakers in two tightly-contested games last season, the Gaels squared off in a rematch with their rivals on Homecoming Saturday. 

Although dominating the game, the Gaels dropped the contest by a score of 5-2. The Gaels outshot the Lakers 34-26 along with numerous power play opportunities. 

“I think we did a lot of things right,” head coach Matt Holmberg said after the game. “We just had some unlucky bounces.”

On Sunday, however, their hard work paid off when Queen’s faced off against the York Lions. The Gaels put their structured play and positive composure on display from start to finish, taming the Lions in convincing fashion by a score of 3-0. 

Last year’s OUA rookie of the year Katrina Manoukarakis picked up right where she left off last season, getting the Gaels on the board in the first period off a rebound from Mackenzie Stamper’s point shot. 

From then on, the Gaels controlled the flow of the game. 

Just under five minutes into the second period, Nadia Larocca was able to capitalize on an offensive zone face-off and put the team up 2-0. Just seconds later, Manoukarakis put the finishing touches on the Lions, with her second goal of the afternoon.

Amidst an afternoon of much-desired offensive production, the defense shined just as brightly. Despite being down to five defensemen due to injuries, Captain Jessica Wakefield said after the game that “it was a little different for our defense, but they played well today.”

The Gaels were exceptional in the defensive zone, blocking shots to the delight of their teammates. However, this didn’t undermine the shutout performance put on by goaltender Stephanie Pascal, who hadn’t played a game in over a year due to injury.

Coach Holmberg was extremely excited to see the return of their goaltender, saying, “she was fantastic today and deserved to win it.” Her showing certainly didn’t go unnoticed, as the team gave her the player of game award.

Looking to improve before next week, Wakefield said the team will practice their special teams. 

“There were a lot of power play opportunities for us but we were also killing a lot of penalties, so that’s one of the biggest things for us.”

As the grind of the regular season moves on, the Gaels look forward to meeting the Laurier Golden Hawks on Friday and the Waterloo Warriors on Saturday.  

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