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Gaels suffer second overtime defeat at CIS women’s hockey tourney

March 10, 2013


Should the Queen’s Golden Gaels content themselves with a moral victory, for having erased a three-goal third-period deficit Saturday against the defending national champions?

Or should we expect them to be bitterly disappointed that such a terrific comeback fell short of the opportunity to compete for a medal tomorrow at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s hockey championship?

“A bit of column A and a bit of column B,” Queen’s coach Matt Holmberg said after his team was defeated in overtime, 5-4, by the Calgary Dinos on Day 3 of the six-team tournament in Toronto.

“There’s definite disappointment. As I look at the faces of these girls right now, there’s a few tears, there’s disappointment, but they do know that they battled. They played two tough games, two overtime games, at the national championship. They know that they deserve to be here and despite the results, were a competitive force.

“There’s a lot of pride in that room and they’ll be determined to finish the season with a win tomorrow, even though there’s no medal at stake.”

The Ontario-champion Gaels will play for fifth place at noon against an opponent to be determined tonight.

It appeared that particular fate was assured as early as the second period, when the Gaels surrendered goals 33 seconds apart and Calgary took a 4-1 lead in the seventh minute. After the Dinos killed a penalty in the middle of the period, and then two more in the first eight minutes of the third, it appeared the Gaels would go quietly.

That didn’t happen. Courtenay Jacklin slapped home a rebound at 9:04 and Morgan McHaffie scored her second goal of the game with a little less than six minutes to play to lift Queen’s to within a goal at 4-3.

Needing a victory in regulation time to advance to Sunday’s gold-medal game, Queen’s appeared to be in good shape when Calgary’s Melissa Zubick took a bodychecking penalty with 2:11 remaining in the third period.

The Calgary penalty killing was superb, however. The Dinos were two seconds away from killing their sixth consecutive penalty — and spoiling Queen’s 11th straight power play at the tournament — when Chantal Morais scored for the Gaels with 13 seconds on the clock.

Though the chance to play for the championship was gone, Queen’s still had hopes of qualifying for the bronze-medal game as the game went into overtime but they vanished when Iya Gavrilova, a 25-year-old second-year economics student who has been on the Russian national team since 2003, scored her second goal of the game on a power play in the third minute of extra time.

“Something that’s personified this team all year is that there was never any quit in it,” Holmberg said. “A lot of teams down 4-1 against a powerhouse like Calgary might have packed it in in the third period but this team didn’t quit … and gave themselves an opportunity to continue to play for a medal.

“I’m disappointed in that I think they deserved a bounce or two for how hard they played but I’m good because I’m really proud of the way they played. They should feel pretty good about themselves.”

Queen’s goaltender Karissa Savage made some splendid saves and kept her team as close as it was through 40 minutes, as Calgary outshot its opponent 31-16.

“They went through the neutral zone very well,” Holmberg said of the Dinos. “We’re a pretty aggressive forechecking team and that’s been successful for us all year but if we end up getting our forwards caught too deep, or if our defence pinches at a bad time, that creates some odd-man rushes and Calgary’s very good at moving through the neutral zone with speed. That resulted in a few opportunities for them.”

After an apparent Calgary goal in the dying moments of the second period was disallowed, the Gaels slowly clawed their way back into the game. With the aging veteran Hailey Wickenheiser — Calgary’s 34-year-old five-time Olympian — on the bench with a suspected ankle injury, Queen’s began to assert itself.

“We didn’t make a lot of changes in terms of our systems (in the third period),” Holmberg said. “We decided that instead of trying to make two passes out of our zone we would just go high off the glass and get it out.

“We’re normally a puck-possession style of team where we try to carry it in (the other team’s end) but we moved to a dump-and-chase style in the third period, got their defence turned around, and their goalie had a tough time playing pucks. That gave us a little more possession time in their end.”




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