Women’s hockey continues to roll

Gaels look to win ninth straight game this weekend

Stephanie Pascal made 31 saves against Laurentian, sealing the Gaels win.
Stephanie Pascal made 31 saves against Laurentian, sealing the Gaels win.

It wasn’t the start that any of them had in mind. After ten games, the women’s hockey team was looking at a 4-6 record and a discouraging weekend consisting of two straight losses. Something wasn’t right. And then it was.

After the winless November 11-12 weekend, the Gaels went on to win eight-straight games, a streak they have no intention of ending this weekend against Western and Ryerson. The turnaround wasn’t something that happened overnight, though.

Captain Jessica Wakefield reflected on the team’s “rock-bottom weekend” recently saying, “we didn’t play close to what we can play.”

Team leading goal scorer Addi Halladay concurred. “We had a bit of a reality check. We realized something had to be done and with hosting nationals we wanted to be a team that deserved to be there,” she said.

Following the losses, the Gaels had what Wakefield called a “character skate,” which gave way to a period of reflection for the team. Wakefield emphasized that the feeling that came from that winless weekend has served as motivation for the team — not wanting to experience what they felt that weekend. It was clear that it wasn’t a strategic change that needed to happen, it was their mentality.

For Wakefield, the greatest feeling they developed was belief.

“The biggest changes have been emotionally and mentally knowing we can do what we are capable of if we put in the max effort,” Wakefield said. “Believing in ourselves and in each other is the biggest thing.”

Wakefield also commented on her captaincy and role as a leader, saying that while players look up to her in tough situations, the team’s trust in each other isn’t lacking.

“I think that everyone has this kind of trust for each other, which is why I think we’re doing so well,” she said.

Through this stretch, there have also been some on-ice differences. With their leading goal scorer tied for only 26th in the OUA for scoring, the Gaels have been able to distribute the scoring up and down the lineup, speaking to their depth. 

Following their eighth win in row, in which all three goals came from separate lines, head coach Matt Holmberg said, “I think we’re really starting to develop that depth as a team and the back end is starting to stabilize itself really nicely too.”

Additionally, Queen’s has been able to establish itself as a determined, hard-nosed team over the stretch. In their first ten games, four of their losses were by two goals or less. Over their winning streak, six of their eight have been won by a single goal with two coming in the shootout and one in overtime.

“It’s about who’s going to get in the dirty area to do the extra work,” Halladay said, “and we’ve been doing a pretty good job with that.”

This appears to trace back to the core feeling of belief, and as the experienced Wakefield says about overtime, “when it gets to that it’s not about the skill or talent — every team has that. It’s just who’s willing to push through.” 

It’s been made clear through out this streak to the players, management, and fans that the Gaels are the team that’s willing to push through.

With six games remaining in their schedule and assuming the third spot in the OUA standings, Queen’s has no plan on resting until the job is done.

On the team’s current locker room mentality going into the final stretch and into the playoffs, Halladay says the team is locked in and their goal is to “just keep pushing. We’re not sitting back at all. We want to push for nine.”

The Gaels aim to do just that this weekend as they hit the road with winning being the only thing on their mind.

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