The women’s hockey team entered last weekend hoping to extend their season-high four game winning streak against the Toronto Varsity Blues and the York Lions in Kingston. The Gaels were successful and finished off their regular season with two close wins against the Blues and the Lions, picking up a much needed four points.
The game remained scoreless through 40 minutes until the Blues broke the deadlock 7:45 into the third period, scoring shorthanded. The Gaels tied it up on the power play with less than three minutes to play on a goal from defenceman Shelby Aitcheson, sending the game to extra time.
After overtime solved nothing, veteran forwards Becky Conroy and Liz Kench scored for Queen’s in the shootout. Goaltender Mel Dodd-Moher made both saves to secure the Gaels’ first shootout win of the season.
Although it was a far cry from the decisive 6-1 and 4-1 wins of the previous weekend, it was still an important victory for the Gaels.
“I don’t think it was the best hockey we’ve played this season but we managed to squeak out [the win],” said forward Kelsey Thomson.
The Gaels finished the season on a high note Sunday. With their win over the Lions, Queen’s ends the regular season on a six-game winning streak and with a 10-2 record since Christmas.
Forward Brittany McHaffie opened the scoring six minutes into the game and the Gaels never looked back. Conroy added to the Gaels’ lead in the second period with a goal on the power play. Kench extended the lead to 3-0 at the end of the period with her eighth goal of the season. Goaltender Karissa Savage made 18 saves, leading the Gaels to a 3-1 win.
After going 9-8-4 in the first three months of the season, Thomson said the Gaels wanted to change their play heading into the new year.
“We wanted to focus on getting a lot more wins,” said the Gaels’ leading scorer. “The 10-2 record [since Christmas] is something we want to carry into the playoffs.”
With attention placed on the production from the Kench-Conroy-Thomson line, Thomson said the contributions by all three lines have given the team an edge and makes them more unpredictable.
“When we have all three lines rolling, [the other team] can’t match lines because they don’t know who is going to be scoring,” she said.
The win over the Lions ensured the Gaels home ice advantage as they head into the playoffs this Saturday, facing the fifth-place Windsor Lancers.
“These were huge wins for us to determine what place we came in,” Savage said. “We left everything on the ice and we came out victorious.” Savage, who has been sharing the starting goaltending position with Dodd-Moher, said alternating goalies benefits the team.
“It’s been awesome,” Savage said. “We’ve both been playing well and encouraging each other and working hard so it’s good.”
Along with secondary scoring, head coach Matt Holmberg said the success of their special teams has had a significant role in the Gaels’ stellar play recently.
“After Christmas we wanted to make sure we worked on our special teams and this weekend in particular our penalty kill was really, really good,” he said. “The last couple weeks we knew in order to get the playoff position we wanted, we needed to get the two wins and the girls found a way to do that.”
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