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(Keith Minchin / St.Thomas University Athletics)

McGill Athletics Fall 2014 team previews: Part III

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Redmen Hockey

The Redmen, who went 4-3-1 in the pre-season against a combination of teams from the CIS and the NCAA, have gotten off to a middling start in OUA competition. The first two weekends have been marked by a win and a loss each, hardly the form that the reigning OUA East Champions have exhibited in years past.

The slow start should not be a cause for concern; the squad returns many of the core players from last year’s successful season. Jacob Gervais-Chouinard, who made the CIS All-Tournament team last season, returns between the pipes. Up front, the forward pack is headlined by OUA all-star centre Cedric McNicoll, who led the Redmen with 55 points last season. The former AHL player has ample support at his side as the team returns with the next three leading forwards.

On the blueline, the Redmen will surely miss the leadership, puck moving ability, and talent of the CIS Most Outstanding Defenceman, Ryan McKiernan, who exhausted his eligibility and has moved on to the professional ranks. If a leader can emerge from the crop of defenceman, Head Coach Kelly Nobes’ squad has a chance to make another deep run in the playoffs. For a program only three years removed from hoisting the CIS National Championship, success late in the season is expected and wholly possible.

Martlet Hockey

The Martlet hockey team is looking to defend its 2013-2014 CIS National Championship title, its second in the last three seasons. The Martlets have had a strong pre-season, beating all CIS opponents save for Queen’s, and going 2-2-0 against NCAA Division I teams.

The Martlets will rely heavily once again on senior forwards Leslie Oles, Katia Clement-Heydra–last year’s CIS Player-of-the-Year–and junior winger Gabrielle Davidson, to provide leadership and offensive prowess. Seniors Adrienne Crampton and Michelle Daignault will lead the Martlet defence, while defenceman Brittany Fouracres will play important minutes after spending this past summer with the Canada Under-22 team. Mélodie Daoust has also returned to the team after winning an Olympic gold medal with Team Canada in Sochi last year, though an off-season knee injury will keep her sidelined until January. When she does return, expect it to be an added jolt to the nation’s top program. Junior Taylor Hough and sophomore Brittany Smrke will take on a larger role between the pipes after last year’s starter Andrea Weckman graduated.

The Martlets open their season at McConnell Arena Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. against cross-town rivals Université de Montréal, in what will be a rematch of both the RSEQ and CIS Finals. The Carabins prevailed in the RSEQ Final, but the Martlets came out on top in the end, claiming the CIS title.

Martlet Volleyball

Martlet volleyball ended last season in heartbreaking fashion. The team sat one win away from the playoffs with two games remaining in the season, but the squad fell short of the post-season after hard fought losses against Montréal and Sherbrooke. Though the Martlets and Vert et Or finished with identical records, the latter snuck past with the strength of its slim lead in the head-to-head record between the two teams.

Optimism is widespread prior to this season, however, as the squad has had a fine pre-season, and enters the regular season ranked 10th in the weekly CIS Top 10. While the graduation of team captain Genevieve Plante will certainly hurt, this team has capable veterans who should be able to fill her shoes. Daphnee-Maude Andre-Morin and Marie-Christine Lapointe, both fifth-year seniors, will provide ample leadership, while starting setter Yasmeen Dawoodjee will be expected to take on a greater load in her senior year. Look for junior power hitter Ashley Norfleet to build on her breakout season this year.

The Martlets will start their season on the road with four games at Montreal’s CEPSUM Stadium against Cape-Breton, Dalhousie, Acadia, and Saint-Mary’s. Their home opener will be played in Love Competition Hall on Friday, Oct. 7th against Laval.

Martlet, Redmen Swimming

The Redmen swimming team had an up-and-down season last year, finishing 12th amongst men’s teams in the CIS Championships. The squad has added six freshmen to its team and hopes to use this season to develop new talent and have integrated the rookies succesfully, tasting early season success. At the first Coupe de Quebec swim meet, where McGill won gold in the 4×50 freestyle, placed silver in three individual events, second for the 4×200 m freestyle and two bronze medals. With a young squad and a promising start to the season, the Redmen will expect steady performances at these events.

The Martlets had a succesful season last year, finishing seventh at the CIS National Championships and third in the RSEQ. The squad is poised to return its best athletes, headlined by Katie Caldwell and Simone Cseplo. Caldwell,   now a junior, was the CIS Rookie-of-the-Year and the RSEQ Swimmer-of-the-Year, while Cseplo was an All-Tournament performer last season.

Additionally, Valerie De Broux and Fanny Gervais-Carter, both of whom broke school records last year, return to the fold. The Martlets squad is deep, has elite talent, and has veteran leadership. Although the Montreal Carabins and Laval Rouge et Or remain national powerhouses, McGill’s program is rising. A top-five finish at Nationals is a lofty ambition, but it remains within the realm of possibility.

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