Women's hockey splits opening weekend

Gaels edge out Laurentian, lose to Nipissing in home openers

Goaltender Makenzy Arsenault is currently Queen’s starting goalie while Stephanie Pascal recovers from an injury.
Goaltender Makenzy Arsenault is Queen’s starting goalie while Stephanie Pascal recovers from an injury.

After a hectic first weekend of the regular season, women’s hockey head coach Matt Holmberg struggled to find a single word to define the Gaels’ opening pair of games.

“It was a funny weekend,” he said. “It’s funny that I’m disappointed with the winning game and feel better about the game we lost—but that’s hockey.”

The Gaels were given an early test in their first tilt of regular season games on Friday and Saturday, beating the Laurentian Voyageurs 4-2 and losing to the Nipissing Lakers 2-1.

Queen’s wasted no time showing their offensive capabilities against Laurentian. Forwards Taylor Hicks, Caroline DeBruin, and Kaylie Dennis collaborated to put the Gaels up 3-0 after ten minutes. After adding another goal in the second period, the Gaels’ lead was enough despite two unanswered goals from Laurentian in the second and third periods.

Subbing in for the injured Stephanie Pascal, second-year goaltender Makenzy Arsenault earned her first win of the season.

“Some bad habits creeped in as the game went on,” Holmberg said, pointing to Queen’s effort late in the game while Laurentian attempted at a comeback. “While I was happy with the win, I wasn’t really happy with how we competed.”

Against Nipissing, it was a battle between the two team’s power play and penalty kill units. Despite the Lakers drawing seven penalties to Queen’s five, the Lakers’ power play efficiency won the battle with both goals coming with the Gaels down a player.

The game-winner arrived six minutes left as the game was appearing to be bound for overtime when Nipissing jumped on a rebound in front of a crowd net.

Going into the game, Holmberg and the Gaels were aware of the task they were up against—including Saturday’s game, the two team’s past six games have been decided by one goal. Queen’s edged Nipissing in the OUA semi-finals last season in two thrilling games, one of which ended in overtime.

Holmberg said the clear difference against Nipissing—the superior team compared to Laurentian—was Queen’s competition level.

“It was a solid game and if we continue to play like that or improve on today then we should be in pretty good shape,” Holmberg said. “It was a good test.”

Rest won’t be on the Gaels’ side this coming weekend—they’re scheduled to take on the 2018-19 U Sports national champion Western Mustangs on Friday night in London. Before puck-drop, Western will be raising their OUA championship banner—the one Queen’s was a single win away from winning last season.

Holmberg didn’t hold back about how the team feels headed into Friday’s bout. 

“I’m okay to go down there and ruin their evening just like they did to ours a year ago,” he said.

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