The RSEQ second-place ranked McGill Martlets (12-5-2) edged out the third place Ottawa GeeGees (10-6-2) in an exciting shootout win on Sunday afternoon at McConnell Arena. Entering the game, the Martlet’s playoff matchup against Ottawa was already set, the only question was of who would host the series. With Sunday’s win, McGill clinched second place and home-ice advantage.
The Martlets had a rocky start to the game. Rookie forward Nicole Howlett took an early double minor penalty for a check to the head and, though the Martlets successfully killed it off, they spent much of the first period playing in their own zone. Ottawa’s strong forecheck meant that the hosts had trouble executing passes in the defensive zone and breaking the puck out.
Marimee Godbout-Parent scored the Gee Gees’ only goal of the game midway through the first period after tired Martlet players were stuck on the rink after an icing call.
The Martlets started out the second period in a hole. Already down one goal, they had to kill off a 5-on-3 for 92 seconds just two minutes into the period against the best power play in CIS hockey. The penalty kill was up to the challenge, though. The penalty killers were effective at limiting chances all afternoon and goaltender Taylor Hough stopped the few chances Ottawa did get.
McGill turned things around after that challenge and dominated much of the play for the rest of the game, outshooting Ottawa, 43-25.
“I didn't think we were great in the first period,” Head Coach Peter Smith said. “I thought we had a terrific second period. Give Ottawa a little credit, they pushed back hard in the third and I thought, overall, for 40 minutes, I liked our game.”
After killing off the early 5-on-3, the Martlets’ offence took over. They were great at breaking out of their zone and transitioning the puck up quickly through the neutral zone. Their forecheckers were quick on the puck, making it difficult for the Ottawa defence to clear the zone.
McGill’s first powerplay unit generated multiple scoring chances in the second period but couldn’t even the score until senior forward Gabrielle Davidson tied the game up for the Martlets at 12:54 in the period.
The Martlets had a bevy of great scoring chances after Davidson’s goal but failed to pull ahead due to the stellar play of Ottawa’s goaltender, Sarah-Maude Labrecque. She stood on her head for 65 minutes and was able to send the game to a shootout. Labrecque had some help from the post, too. Davidson nearly put the puck in on the 4-on-3 advantage in overtime but hit the crossbar.
The goalies were the story in the shootout, too. Tied 1-1 after three shooters, the contest ended up going seven rounds before the game could be decided. senior centre Melodie Daoust, who looked dangerous the entire game, shot twice and scored both times. She was the only McGill shooter to score.
McGill plays Concordia on Feb. 19 in McConnell Arena for their final game of the regular season.
“I thought [our penalty kill (PK) ] was real good, I thought we were real well prepared for it. We've struggled a little bit–pucks have been going in on us on the PK and I thought we did a real good job today. We spent quite a bit of time preparing for it.” —Smith on the penalty kill, which did not allow a goal.
Play of the game
Davidson scored McGill’s only goal of the game on a 3-on-1 rush midway through the second period. The play featured some great passing between Davidson and Daoust before it ended up in the back of the net.
3-2, McGill’s record against Ottawa this season, is important because McGill and Ottawa could end up tied in the standings at the end of the regular season. Winning the season series means winning the tiebreaker and clinching home ice advantage.