The Queen’s women’s hockey team beat Ontario Tech 4-2 Wednesday night to advance to the second round of the OUA playoffs.
With the victory, the Gaels have now won two in a row and will play the University of Toronto on Saturday.
After last Saturday’s win against York on the road, the Gaels were ready to face off against the Ridgebacks.
“Statistically, the teams were fairly even throughout the year, so we expected a close match,” head coach Matt Holmberg told The Journal in an interview.
“We’d already faced a do-or-die game […] We used that momentum and the confidence that comes along with knowing we can deliver when our backs are against the wall.”
After a quiet first period, Ontario Tech struck first, beating Gaels’ goalie Makenzy Arsenault on the power-play just over the halfway mark of the second period.
“Even though they scored the first goal, we stayed confident and kept at it […] I think as the game went along, we just kept getting stronger and stronger,” Holmberg said.
It was Queen’s forward Quinn Johnston who gave the Gaels life, tying the score four minutes later on the powerplay after a hooking penalty was called against the Ridgebacks.
With less than a minute to go in the second, Emma McKnight then gave the Gaels a 2-1 lead to head
into the final period.
Capitalizing on their momentum, Queen’s scored less than a minute into the third when Scout Watkins Southward found the back of the net off an assist from forwards Sydney Wilson and Johnson.
“Scout is as consistent as they come. She’s one of the hardest-working, most dedicated players I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching,” Holmberg said about Watkins Southward, who has put up five points over the past three games.
“[She has] a relentless style on the ice and a lot of speed and a lot of strength and is a great developing leader as well.”
Mid-way through the period, forward Sara Di Filippo added to the lead with an assist from McKnight and forward Rebecca Thompson before Tech solved Arsenault once more with less than five minutes left to play, which ended the game.
Final score: 4-2 Gaels.
“I think what you’re seeing is the evolution of a team in real time,” Holmberg said, dissecting the victory.
“We played the fewest number of games in the entire country […] You’re seeing [our development] happen before your eyes and very quickly and in a positive way.”
With their win over the Ridgebacks, Queen’s will head on the road to face off against the University of Toronto on Saturday. The Varsity Blues are the top-ranked team in the East division—and the entire country.
Having beat the Varsity Blues in a shootout during the regular season, however, Holmberg offered both a message of hope and a challenge for this weekend.
“I have every confidence that we can find success, but we’re going to need all hands on deck, and be willing to find yet another level if we can.”
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