The McGill Martlets hockey team dropped its first game of the CIS Championship weekend against the UBC Thunderbirds. The loss dashed the team’s medal hopes, giving them a best-case-scenario fifth place finish in Calgary, the site of the National Championships.
The Thunderbirds dominated early on in the game, taking a quick 2-0 lead by the end of the first period off of goals by Hannah Clayton-Carroll and Kathleen Cahoon on the powerplay.
McGill looked as though it was going to stage a resurgence after forward Gabrielle Davidson converted on a Stefanie Pohlod opportunity on the powerplay, roofing the puck past UBC’s fruitlessly-sprawled goaltender, Danielle Dube. Less than four minutes later, however, Logan Boyd of the Thunderbirds got a quick shot over the right shoulder of McGill goaltender Taylor Hough to close the second period.
Despite a quick third period goal from centre Melodie Daoust to pull McGill within one goal, UBC played tight defensively and outplayed the Martlets for loose pucks. With just over a minute left, and with Hough pulled for an extra attacker, Cahoon scored an empty net goal for her second of the night, barring McGill’s hopes for a podium finish in the tournament.
“We fought hard all game long,” McGill Head Coach Peter Smith said. “We battled right until the very end. We outshot [UBC], but they kept us to the outside a lot. We needed a bounce and we didn’t get one. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s how the game goes.”
Fifth-year forward Erika Pyke received player of the game honours for the Martlets.
The Martlets were upset by the St. Thomas Tommies 2-1 in the consolation round, which led to an early exit for last year’s national runners-up.
Near the end of the first period, Davidson got a quick snapshot goal from below the hashmarks, beating Tommies goaltender Taylor Cook blocker side to put McGill up 1-0. Davidson’s goal marked her second of the tournament for the McGill scoring lead on the weekend. After the goal, however, the Martlets took a penalty, shifting momentum towards the Tommies. Kelty Apperson pounced on a rebound on the powerplay, edging the puck past Hough to tie the game.
The second period remained scoreless, despite McGill outshooting St. Thomas 14-9.
Midway through the third, Tommies forward Lauren Henman slipped a pass from Caley Steinert through Hough’s five-hole to jump ahead 2-1. St. Thomas would hang onto the lead for the win.
“I thought there were a lot of good things in that game,” Smith said. “We had so many scoring chances [but] we just couldn’t put the puck in the net.”
Senior forward Olivia Sutter of Red Deer, Alberta was awarded player of the game for McGill.
McGill outshot their opponents 71-49 over the course of the two games. Despite their dominating advantage in shots, the Martlets only managed to score 3 goals on the weekend, two of which came off the stick of graduating forward Gabrielle Davidson.
“For our graduating players, they’ve had a great run. They all graduate with a National Championship back in 2014. For our returning players, they see what it takes to get all the way to the top. Quite frankly, I don’t think there’s anything but positives coming out of it”— Smith on the Martlets early exit, and finding the positives in the losses.
Play of the weekend
Davidson scored the first goal of the weekend for McGill, during the team’s attempt to come back from a 2-0 deficit at the hands of UBC. Davidson roofed the puck from inside the crease over the Thunderbirds goaltender Dube. The goal shifted momentum in favour of the Martlets and set the stage for an attempted resurgence.