It was a night to remember for Leslie Oles. In the first game of her university career, the rookie forward tallied a goal and a couple of helpers to propel the Martlets to a 7-4 win in their season opener against the Concordia Stingers.
Just 30 seconds into the game, captain Cathy Chartrand fired a hard, low slapper that bounced right to Oles, who didn’t falter on her first shot of the game.
“It was really exciting for me, especially being a rookie at my first game. Our captain just fired a really nice shot, and the next thing I know the puck was on my tape and I just tried to get it away as fast as I could,” said a beaming Oles.
That goal sparked the Martlets’ five-goal explosion in the first period. Their speed forced the Stingers’ defence to back off, giving McGill shooters plenty of room to shoot and create second chance opportunities. When forward Lainie Smith surprised a Stinger’s power-play unit with a shorthanded beauty in the 19th minute, McGill fans couldn’t be blamed for thinking the game was already over.
But Concordia didn’t back down, coming back with determination in the second period. They were quick to get the puck out of their own zone and drive hard to the net. The Martlets’ defence was unable to support goaltender Taylor Salisbury and it cost them.
At the beginning of the third frame, an opportunistic Concordia attack stung McGill twice on three shots, bringing a rowdy crowd of mostly Concordia fans to their feet. But the Martlets regained composure, limiting Concordia to only two more shots.
“It was a good start to the season. I thought the girls played well tonight, but we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be,” said Martlets Head Coach Peter Smith.
It shouldn’t take long for the Martlets to get into a groove. This year’s team looks as promising as any in recent memory. Leslie Oles wasn’t the only impressive rookie; Rearguards Gillian Ferrari and Adrienne Crampton played with poise. Katia Clement-Heydra looked comfortable with star sniper Ann-Sophie Bettez and the creative Kim Ton-That.
“It was fun playing with those two girls. When you play with such great players, they push you and it forces my game up a notch,” Clement-Heydra said.
McGill plays exhibition matches against Princeton and Yale next weekend.