Katia Clement-Heydra jockeys for position during her strong performance against the Stingers. (Wendy Chen / McGill Tribune)

Hockey: Martlets swarm past Stingers and into RSEQ Finals

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Like so many times before, senior centre Katia Clement-Heydra stepped up when her team needed it the most. She tallied two goals and added an assist on rookie forward Jordan McDonnell’s game-winning goal, as the McGill Martlets squeaked by the Concordia Stingers 3-2 on Friday night.

In what has been a recurring theme throughout the season, the Martlets did an excellent job of getting pucks on net and limiting their opponent’s ability to do the same, outshooting the Stingers 42-16. Despite the barrage of shots, McGill was only able to convert on three of its chances, a recurring issue for the team this season. However, with Clement-Heydra generating scoring chances seemingly out of thin air, the squad will be primed for a successful post-season.

“She’s come a long way,” Martlet Head Coach Peter Smith said in regards to Clement-Heydra. “From her first year to her fourth year, she’s gained a lot of in terms of experience [and] her skills have vastly improved. But the number one thing that has made her a better player this year is how hard she worked this summer on her fitness and conditioning.”

On Sunday, the Martlets opted to avoid the late-game theatrics that characterised their first win of the series by demolishing the Stingers at Ed Meagher Arena with a score of 10-2.  Clement-Heydra once again added three points to the score sheet, but was not alone in her efforts as 11 different players found their way onto the box score. Gabrielle Davidson, the sophomore standout who tied the CIS regular season record for goals with 28, bounced back with two goals and two assists after being held off the scoresheet in her previous two games.

The win means that McGill has earned a berth in the RSEQ Finals as well as the CIS Championships—the RSEQ claims the wildcard berth following the Carabins’ CIS title last year. With a national championship bid secured, the squad can take a bit of respite knowing that the shock of last year’s surprise playoff exit will not be repeated. They will get their chance to shine on the brightest stage soon.

In the meantime, there is still work to be done; and standing in their way once again is their bitter rival, the Carabins. McGill won its first three games against Montreal this year before dropping the last two at home, signalling that something different needs to be done to secure an RSEQ banner.

“I think the last couple weeks, not sure why, but we got away from playing the Martlet brand of hockey, [which is] a high-tempo, structured kind of game.” Smith explained. “I thought the game [Sunday] at Concordia—we had flashes of that back. Now it’s just a matter of playing with tempo and structure for a full 60 minutes.”

The entire best-of-three series takes place during McGill’s reading week. The first game will be held in McConnell Arena on Sunday, March 2 at 3:00 p.m., while the return leg is slated for Thursday, March 6 at Arena CEPSUM. If required, the rubber match will be played at McConnell Arena on March 8.