Martlets soar through playoffs to win RSEQ title

Simon Poitrimolt / McGill Tribune

For the seventh consecutive season, the McGill Martlets are the RSEQ women’s ice hockey champions. The title came at the expense of the University of Montreal Carabins, as McGill swept the two-game series by scores of 5-1 and 4-0, respectively.

Though the scores seem to indicate otherwise, the finals were a hard-fought battle between two strong hockey teams. Playing the first game at home, the Carabins committed a great blunder within the first minute, getting caught with too many players on the ice, leading to a McGill powerplay. Seizing the opportunity, the Martlets capitalized quickly on their opponent’s mistake when Melodie Daoust scored just 1:54 into the game. 

Daoust wasn’t finished though, as less than five minutes later, the rookie forward scored her second of the night, which also proved to be the game winner. The period ended with McGill sporting a two-goal lead and a huge 16-4 advantage in shots on goal. 

The second period proved no less dominant for the Martlets as Stephanie Pohlod and Ann-Sophie Bettez extended the visiting team’s lead to four goals after 40 minutes of play. As the forwards kept scoring, the Martlet’s defence was just as effective, allowing the Carabins only five shots on goal in the second.

Unfortunately, Martlet goalie Charline Labonte’s bid for a shutout ended at 14:57 of the third period when Janique Duval scored Montreal’s first of the series. Avenging the goal, Martlet Cathy Chartrand scored one minute later, capping the Martlets victory. McGill controlled both sides of the ice, registering 34 shots on goal, versus a measly 19 for “les bleus.”

The second game had McGill playing at home where the Martlets hoped to win the RSEQ title on familiar ice. They accomplished the feat in a highly physical affair which saw Labonte register her second shutout of the season, and 13th in 33 career playoff contests.

The Martlets once again started the game very strong, shooting 13 pucks on Montreal goalie Elodie Rousseau-Sirois while only allowing four on Labonte. Yet it took until 54 seconds into the second period for the home team to score its first, a beautiful goal by Leslie Oles. From that point on, it was all about McGill as Daoust added one and Bettez put in two, leading the Martlets to a crushing 4-0 victory and a seventh consecutive RSEQ title. 

It was a career night for Oles, who registered a goal and assisted on all three other McGill goals, earning her player-of-the-night honours. Bettez, named RSEQ female hockey player of the year for the second time in three seasons, scored twice and registered an assist to cap another impressive three-point night. On the other hand, Daoust’s incredible play throughout the playoffs led to her winning the RSEQ playoff scoring title with five goals and six assists in five games. Her goal in the third period gave her the lead over Bettez, for the title. In a bit of supreme irony, Bettez assisted on Daoust’s deciding goal. 

Though the outcome of the series was not surprising, the stands were filled with rather unexpected guests during the game—none more so than McGill’s principal, Heather Monroe-Blum. The principal and vice-chancellor addressed the team during the second intermission and posed with the team for the celebratory championship photo. According to Earl Zukerman, McGill Athletics Communications Officer, it was the first time a McGill principal has appeared in a championship photo.

The Martlets advance to the CIS Championship on Mar. 8-11, with the hopes of earning some hardware on the national stage. This will be the final CIS presence for Martlet goaltender and olympic champion Labonte.

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