Martlet Hockey season recap

The 2019-20 season was a resounding success for the McGill Women’s Hockey team, as the Martlets clinched their 15th RSEQ championship en-route to a second successive U Sports National Championships qualification. Despite a rocky start to the season, the Martlets’ confidence grew game after game, and they finished their 2019-20 campaign 23–12–0. The team’s success largely came down to the players’ ability to execute on both ends of the ice.  Fourth-year forward Lea Dumais and fourth-year centre Jade Downie-Landry spearheaded a well-oiled Martlet offence that outscored opponents 115–62 on the season. On defence, fourth-year goaltender Tricia Deguire and fourth-year defence Kate Devries each had phenomenal seasons, blocking several of the league’s best offences. Deguire was particularly impressive, finishing the season with league bests in shutouts (5) and goals-against-average (1.67). The four players all ended their campaigns as honourees of the RSEQ first and second All-Star teams. Additionally, captain Emilia Cotter, who also serves as the co-president of the McGill Varsity Council, was awarded with the league’s Leadership & Community Service Award for her excellent work ethic and guidance on and off the ice. 

The Martlet’s came into the 2019-20 campaign looking to right the wrongs of two prior heart-breaking finals losses against the Université de Montréal (UdeM) Carabins and the Guelph University Gryphons in last year’s RSEQ and U Sport postseasons, respectively. Things did not go exactly as planned, however, when the team suffered a 2–1 OT defeat in their very first game of the season against arch-rivals Concordia Stingers. The struggles continued as the Martlets dropped two more games to the Stingers, finishing the fall semester with an overall record of 460. 

Once play resumed in January, McGill faced-off against a familiar foe in the form of the Carabins in what would be their third of seven meetings this season. The game was a spectacle from start to finish: With an inspired performance, the team overcame a two goal deficit to push the game into double overtime where third-year forward Kellyane Lecours scored to secure a decisive, season-altering victory. The return to form helped McGill go 730 for the remainder of the season, securing a second place finish behind division leaders Concordia. Martlet Head Coach Peter Smith was full of praise for the explosive Lecours. 

“Kellyane had a very challenging academic course-load in the first semester, and I think that it affected her play,” Smith said in an interview with McGill Athletics. “But she trained hard over the holiday break and [was] ready to go. She looked really good out there.” 

McGill’s playoff opener positioned the team as favourites against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Martlets did not disappoint, making quick work of their opponents to clinch the series in two games and set up a grudge match against the UdeM Carabins, last year’s RSEQ champions. The first game of the series was dominated by Downie-Landry, with the playoff point-leader netting a scintillating hattrick to rout the Carabins 42. Victory in their sights, the Martlets came out roaring in the second game of the series, scoring four more goals to firmly establish their status as Quebec’s best. The goals came from third-year forward Stephanie Desjardins, Lecours, Downie-Landry, and, in what would be her final game for the team, captain Emilia Cotter. 

The Martlets unfortunately were unable to take their six game winning streak to the U Sports Nationals because the tournament was cancelled amidst developing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the early end to their season, Smith expressed great pleasure at the season’s outcome. 

“The Martlets hockey program is a process from start to finish, and you can’t evaluate our team after a slow start from September to October,” Smith said. “You need to evaluate us for the progress we make over the course of the year. We have such a hard-working group and now that we’ve gotten to this time of year, our hard work is paying off. I’m happy for the players, they’ve played well, worked hard and won the RSEQ championship.”

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