Junior forward Stefanie Pohlod chases the puck into the corner. (Alexandra Allaire / McGill Tribune)

Hockey: Martlets stand up to aggressive Gee-Gees

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With nine minutes left in the second period, McGill forward Pamela Psihogios lost her balance with the puck at hand. Undeterred, she passed to an open teammate and then sprung to her feet to support her fellow Martlets as the aggressive Ottawa Gee-Gees initiated a small scuffle. Despite the combative nature of their opponents, the Martlets managed to win against Ottawa 2-0 on Friday evening, maintaining their composure in the face of the Gee-Gees’ aggressive play.

“At Ottawa it’s always a tough game; they play a very physical kind of game,” Head Coach Peter Smith said. “I wouldn’t say that we are the most physical team but they play a physical game, and I thought we did a really good job.”

Shortly after the scuffle, senior forward Katia Clement-Heydra converted Chelsea Saunder’s assist to finally break the deadlock. The Martlets were clearly the dominant team thanks to a disciplined defence and an excellent shutout performance from netminder Andrea Weckman. Third-year chemical engineering major Stefanie Pohlod topped off the Martlets’ play in the third period with McGill’s second goal of the night.

The Martlets’ ability to dictate the pace and generate pressure against a physically larger opponent is a true testament to their adaptability and excellence over the course of the season. The lopsided shot count of 35-22 was further indicative of their control of the rink. Smith voiced his pleasure with his team’s execution over the course of the season and the game.

“I think that we’ve done a good job,” Smith said. “We spend a lot of time doing what we do, practicing hard and a big part of what we do is focusing on our game and not worrying about our opponent.”

Clement-Heydra, who had three of her shots hit the post, echoed this sentiment.

“We did well; we had a good shooting mentality; we were opportunistic,” she said. “You know, sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn’t, and today it didn’t want to go in as much as we wanted it to, but we managed to get the win.”

This victory showed the confidence the Martlets had in their game plans and their ability to execute.

“I think our fitness is a high point of our team,” Clement-Heydra explained. “Our practices are high tempo, and we work a lot on cardio so we are able to have a good forecheck and then back check.”

There are now six games remaining before the playoffs and the Martlets are both physically and mentally prepared for the challenges ahead. They have enjoyed their position at the top of the RSEQ standings, and will be looking to take this momentum into the post-season.

“We are confident, but after last year and losing in the finals, we are really hungry and looking for redemption,” Clement-Heydra said. “[We] are looking to go all the way, but we don’t want to be too confident.”

The Martlets will face off against Ottawa once more this Sunday, Feb. 2 at McConnell Arena at 3:00 p.m., where they will play the Gee-Gees for the fifth time this season.