By Earl Zukerman
MONTREAL – Kim Deschenes of St. Quentin, N.B., scored twice and added a helper as the top-ranked Montreal Carabins doubled No.2-McGill 6-3 before 478 fans at McConnell Arena, Saturday, to claim the RSEQ women’s hockey championship, winning the best of three Quebec final series 2-1.
It was the second straight year that the second-place Carabins, overcame a series-opening loss to division-leading McGill and rallied for back-to-back victories to capture the league’s Ed Enos Cup.
There was a silver lining to the loss for McGill, however, as both teams will advance to the CIS championship in Fredericton, March 13-16, The Martlets have earned a wild-card berth, thanks to the Carabins, who snared their first-ever national crown last year. In women’s hockey, the winning conference merits an extra berth to the CIS tourney the following season.
McGill dominated the Carabins for much of the game, outshooting them 45-25, including a 38-18 advantage over the last two periods but had a difficult time solving netminder Elodie Rousseau-Sirois, a junior from Pohenegamook, Que., who made 42 saves.
Over the three-game RSEQ final, McGill had a 104-69 edge in shots but Rousseau-Sirois kicked out 96 of 104 shots for a .923 save percentage.
What cost the Martlets dearly was their normally potent power-play unit, which went 1-for-7 in the game and 2-for-15 in the final series. They failed to score on all three of their 5-on-3 situations.
Gabrielle Davidson of Pte. Claire, Que., opened the scoring on a power-play just three minutes into the game for McGill and was in on all three of her team’s markers.
Deschenes responded with back-to-back goals, late in the first and early in the second, to give the Carabins a lead that they never relinquished. When Rika Pilon-Robert and Marion Allemoz scored 33 seconds apart to make it 4-1 by the 13:55 mark of the middle period, it appeared that the game was over.
However, Katia Clement-Heydra, an industrial relations senior from St. Bruno, Que., who was named ealier in the week as the conference’s player of the year, netted her league-leading fifth of the playoffs to give the Martlets some life, narrowing the gap to 4-2 after two. Maude Gelinas regained the three-goal cushion for UdeM at 13:22 of the final stanza.
McGill head coach Peter Smith elected to pull his goaltender for an extra attacker with 3:02 remaining and it paid off when rookie Jordan McDonell of East York, Ont., scored her second of the playoffs at 17:31 but the Carabins snuffed out any hopes of a Martlet comeback with an empty-netter from Elizabeth Mantha.
Andrea Weckman, a senior from Kitchener, Ont., started between the pipes for McGill and collected just her second career playoff loss. She conceded four goals on 15 shots before giving way to understudy Taylor Hough midway through the second period. Hough, a sophomore from Toronto, saved eight of nine shots over her 23:17 minutes in the net.
Thus far, the cross-town rivals have split their eight-game series over the season and the Carabins will go into the CIS “Final Six” tourney as the No.1 seed. According to the seeding guidelines, the top four seeds are all the conference champions and the two remaining teams McGill and host St. Thomas, are most likely to be seeded fifth and sixth, respectively. Since teams from the same conference are not normally in the same pool, the bitter cross-town rivals could meet again in the CIS gold medal game. Vengeance is a dish best served cold.
MARTLET MURMURS: The official seedings and tournament draw for the CIS championships is expected to be announced on Sunday evening…The Martlets are tentatively scheduled to leave for Fredericton via bus on Tuesday… Katia Clement-Heydra, who won the RSEQ’s regular-season scoring title with 13-27-40 in 20 games, also captured the league’s playoff scoring title with 5-6-11 in five contests… She is fourth on McGill’s all-time scoring list and will enter the Nationals with a career record of 102-141-243 in 163 games overall