Senior netminder Andrea Weckman led the RSEQ in GAA (1.25). (Alexandra Allaire / McGill Tribune)

Hockey: Martlets fall short in RSEQ; set sights on Nationals

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Led by two goals and an assist from team captain Kim Deschenes, the no. 1 ranked Montreal Carabins toppled McGill 6-3 on Saturday to take home the RSEQ women’s hockey championship. Despite winning the first game of the best-of-three series, the Martlets were unable to seal the deal, as the Carabins escaped two must-win games to capture the Dr. Ed Enos Cup.

The Martlet squad looked dominant in the first frame of Saturday’s contest, controlling the puck and out-skating its opponents on both ends of the ice. However, with less than five minutes remaining in the first, freshman forward Jordan McDonnell was called for a bodychecking call that would prove to be costly for McGill.

Slicing through the exhausted Martlet penalty kill, Montreal’s Deschenes needed only a few seconds to get open outside the McGill crease and tap in a perfect feed from Carabins teammate Janique Duval.  Deschenes would later add what proved to be the winning goal on an assisted play three minutes into the second period.

Trailing by three goals with the minutes winding down in the final period, McDonnell got the home crowd back on its feet with a slapshot that found the back of the Montreal net to make the score 5-3. With McConnell Arena beginning to rumble for the first time since the second period, Martlet Head Coach Peter Smith pulled the team’s goalie to put McGill a player up. However, the Carabins would put the game away with an empty netter shortly thereafter.

Despite outshooting Montreal 45-24, the Martlets were undone by a sloppy second period in which they failed to convert on three power plays, including a crucial 5-on-3 opportunity. Montreal goaltender Elodie Rousseau-Sirois was spectacular, making 42 saves on the night to keep her team alive.

“We had a lot of shots on goal and we couldn’t find the back of the net, so you have to give [Rousseau-Sirois] a lot of credit,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, Martlet goalie Andrea Weckman had an uncharacteristically quiet game on Saturday.

Weckman, who was pulled late in the second period after letting in four goals on 23 shots, suffered only her second defeat in what has been an otherwise impressive season. The four goals—the most allowed by Weckman in any game this season— pushed her goals against average up to 1.25 on the year, still good for no. 1 in the league.

Sophomore Taylor Hough replaced Weckman to finish the game, limiting Montreal to one goal on nine shots over the remaining 23 minutes.

Leading the way once again for the team was senior forward, Katia Clement-Heydra, the heroine of Game 1 of the series and RSEQ Player-of-the-Year, chipped in a goal and an assist in McGill’s last game of the season, which proved too little too late as her team fell just short of bringing home the  conference championship.

“[Clement-Heydra] has grown tremendously,” Smith said. “She’s gotten better every year, but the leap this year was huge [….] She came back in September and worked real hard to get fit and gain confidence, and it’s made a huge difference in her game.”

The season, however, is far from over for the Martlets. Despite the loss, they will travel to Fredericton to compete in the CIS Championship, which will take place from March 13-16. Though the team qualified for the tournament on a wildcard berth, Smith and the Martlets are undaunted by the challenge they will face in the championships.

“We would have like to go out riding on a win, but we’ve put that aside,” Smith said. “We’re a team that learns from our mistakes, and I think our team has gotten better with every speed bump we’ve hit.”