Is this one of the tightest RSEQ regular season hockey races in recent memory?
“Absolutely,” Head Coach Peter Smith said after McGill’s hard fought 1-2-shootout loss to Montreal on Sunday in McConnell Arena.
The first place Montreal Carabins (8-3-1) are only two points ahead of the third place McGill Martlets (7-3-1)—the two teams are separated by the Ottawa Gee Gee’s (8-4-0).
In a gritty, low-scoring performance, McGill outshot Montreal 38-33, and converted on one of their three power plays. Montreal opened the scoring in the first period, with McGill sophomore forward Marie Philip-Lavoie retaliating with a score seven minutes into the second period.
“I think it’s two real good teams and I think the game […] was indicative of that,” Smith said. “It was two teams playing hard, and playing fast. It was, all in all, a good game.”
It is a testament to both teams’ excellent defence that neither scored until Montreal won in the shootout. Both teams were also stuck in a stalemate in the first overtime period.
“As a team we defend very well,” Smith said, “We play well in our own end, we defend the rush well. I think all six players on the ice have a real good focus on that. I would not consider us to be a defensive team, but we are defensively sound.“
McGill could not get it done in the shootout, however. Marion Allemoz of the Carabins was the only player out of four able to score, while the martlets missed all of their shots.
“I think we are disappointed with our performance in the shootout,” Smith said. “But it’s not like we don’t work at it, and we’ll get better at it.”
McGill beat the Concordia Stingers (3-7-2) 5-2 on Friday at McConnell Arena, earlier in the week. Senior centre Melodie Daoust, fresh from captaining Canada to a gold at the Nations Cup tournament in Germany, had two assists and a goal just six hours after returning to Canada. Senior forward Gabrielle Davidson scored a brace, with the other goals coming from fifth-year forward Joanne Cagianos and sophomore forward Alexandria Serpico.
The 1-1 start to the new 2016 year also proved that McGill had got over its early season power play blues. McGill were 2-4 on the power play against Concordia and 1-3 against Montreal.
McGill will play away against Carleton next weekend. With the race for the RSEQ regular season title heating up, every game is a must-win game for all teams around the league.
“We want to be defensively sound so we can get back on offense. Our team does a good job of playing with structure when we don’t have the puck.”—Smith on the Martlets defensive style.
Moment of the game
The Montreal Carabins’ shootout goal was the only one scored in nine combined attempts between the two sides.
The Montreal Carabins lead the McGill Martlets 13-11 in their last 24 head-to-head games, a testament to how closely fought these games are.