When you win 28 games in a row, some inevitably will be close and others less so. That was the case in the Martlets’ RSEQ semifinal series against the Carleton Ravens last week, as they prevailed 9-0 and 3-1, en route to a two-game series sweep. While Game 1 was a cakewalk, McGill relied on some late-game heroics from Stacie Tardif to advance to the RSEQ finals.
Heading into the semifinal series, there was no doubt that the odds were stacked in the Martlets’ favour. They were the top seed, had won 28 CIS games in a row, and had previously beaten Carleton 70 out of 72 games in their all-time series. The Martlets also had yet to lose an RSEQ playoff game since February of 2005, so anything short of a win would have been unacceptable.
As they have done all season—and in many before it—the Martlets pounced early and often in a dominating Game 1 performance. The dynamic duo of Leslie Oles and Mélodie Daoust contributed an other-worldly seven and six points respectively, as each registered hat tricks. On any other night, the three points scored by Katia Clement-Hydra and Chelsey Saunders might have been the story, but in a game where one of Oles and Daoust had a hand in eight of the team’s nine goals, credit must be given where it is due. The Martlets didn’t even need those eight goals, as Taylor Salisbury stopped 17 shots for her fourth shutout of the year.
The return date in Ottawa was a different story, however. After a scoreless first stanza, Carleton burst out of the gates and took the lead when Tawnya Guindon beat Martlet goalie Andrea Weckman under three minutes into the frame. Despite four power play opportunities, the Martlets seemed to have wasted all of their scoring power in Game 1. They went into the second intermission staring at a 1-0 deficit and a possible rubber match back at McConnell Arena.
Who else could the Martlets look to but the prolific Oles and Daoust to rouse them from their scoring slumber. As the period neared the halfway point, Daoust found Oles, who slipped the puck past Ravens goaltender Eri Kiribuchi for her fourth of the series. The teams dug in for the next 10 minutes, as any goal would likely end or extend the series. The Martlets were granted an opening with less than two minutes to play in regulation when Ravens defender Erin Beaver was called for interference. McGill jumped on the chance as Tardif—who is not known for her scoring prowess—fired a shot from the face-off circle that beat Kiribuchi, sending the Martlets into the final and their fans to delirium. Chelsey Saunders would add an empty net marker to ice the series.
The Martlets now prepare to take on the rival Montreal Carabins for the right to represent Quebec at the CIS Championships in Toronto in March. The Carabins have only lost five of their 20 RSEQ games this season, with all five defeats coming from McGill. The puck drops on Feb. 27 at McConnell Arena.