Martlets dispatch Carabins in physical, rough-and-tumble affair

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Typically a match-up between two nationally ranked hockey teams would all but ensure an exciting and hard-fought match. Nevertheless, the McGill women’s hockey team is far from ordinary. And on Friday, the Martlets further cemented their reputation as Canada’s best women’s hockey team, defeating 10th-ranked Montreal 3-0 at McConnell Arena.

Defenceman Stacie Tardif kicked off the scoring in the first period, firing home her second goal of the season. (Interestingly, Tardif’s first goal of the season – against the Carleton Ravens on October 31 – was scored in a similar fashion.)

“I was at the point, and the puck came back out,” said Tardif. “I took the puck across because I knew the goalie was going to have a tough time following me and I just fired the puck far post.”

Senior forward Amy Soberano and blueliner Jasmine Sheehan scored in the second period, rounding out the scoring in McGill’s record-setting 74th-straight win against CIS opponents.

Still, the Carabins fought hard, frustrating the high-powered Martlet offence all game long.

“I thought they did a really good job of containing us early, clogging up the middle and blocking a lot of our shots,” said Head Coach Amey Doyle. “We struggled to get some of our shots through as a result.”

Friday’s contest was also a physical affair – referee Melanie Bordeleau handed out seven penalties in the opening period. Four of those penalties, including one for body-checking, were issued to the visitors, who came out of the gates looking to send a strong message.

“It was a very physical affair, but that was to be expected,” said Tardif. “However, we have been getting mentally stronger and we responded well. We wanted it more. Right now it isn’t a matter of talent – it’s a matter of passion and the heart, and we have a lot of that.”

Despite the rough play, the Martlets still exhibited the skill and finesse that have made them the consensus number-one team in the country.

“I thought that the pace of the game was really good,” said Doyle. “The speed was there. Anytime it’s a speed game, I think it works to our advantage.”

Speed, skill, and scoring weren’t the only factors that played a part in McGill’s victory on Friday. The Martlets’ defence stymied the Montreal attack for 60 minutes, helping goaltender Andrea Weckman record her second shutout in three career starts. Tardif acknowledged that defending against the country’s best offence – in practice, day in and day out – is, in large part, why the Martlets’ blueline is so solid.

“We are always ready for [what] any offence throws against us,” she said.

Montreal came into the match with two of the top three scorers in the Quebec League: Kim Deschene and Marie-Andree Leclerc-Auger. Fellow winger Amanda Lalande was also on a four-game points streak – racking up 11 points in total. But these statistics had no bearing on what happened on the ice.

The Martlets will get some well-deserved rest as they take the next four days off before hitting the road for a two-game series away from home against the Carleton Ravens on January 30 and February 6.