By Earl Zukerman
Melodie Daoust of Valleyfield, Que., registered a hat-trick as top-ranked McGill cruised to a one-sided 7-2 victory over the No.2-ranked Université de Montréal Carabins to capture the Dr. Ed Enos Trophy as RSEQ women’s hockey champions before a crowd of 361 at McConnell Arena, Sunday.
It was the 14th conference title since 1985 for the Martlets who avenged losing to the Carabins in the Quebec final during each of the last two years.
McGill had opened the best-of-three league championship series with a 6-2 victory on home ice last Thursday but dropped a 5-1 decision in Game 2 at U de M on Saturday. The Martlets, who outscored the Carabins 14-9 in the three-game series, have now confronted Montreal nine times this season, winning five. They could meet again at Nationals as both RSEQ finalists will advance to the CIS Final Eight tournament in Calgary, March 12-15. McGill won the national championship last year, which automatically merited a second berth for the Quebec league.
The Martlets, who are scheduled to fly out west late Monday afternoon, held a 26-20 advantage in shots on goal and clicked on special teams, going 1-for-4 on the power-play and erasing all three shorthanded scenarios.
“It was a team effort and it showed our character,” said Daoust, the Canadian Olympic gold medallist who tied teammate Leslie Oles for the conference playoff lead with 11 points in five playoff games. Daoust now owns a 6-12-18 record in eight contests since a preseason injury kept her out of the lineup until Feb. 13. “We were down one goal, twice, and our team is all about character. We can come from behind and score goals when we need to.”
That said, the three-goal performance for Daoust, a physical education junior, were her first markers after four scoreless post-season contests where she collected eight assists, preferring to set up her teammates instead. Her career stats bear that out as she owns a lifetime 62-93-155 record in 70 games overall.
“She hasn’t had enough shots and we talked about it and today decided to move her over to centre, which probably helped her feel more comfortable,” said Peter Smith, who was coaching in his 601st game over 15 seasons as bench boss at McGill. “Since she’s come back to the lineup, it was probably a little easier for her to play on the wing (where she had less responsibilities) but we moved her into the middle today and that probably helped her. She’s got a heckuva good shot and she shot more today and it paid off pretty well.”
McGill got off to a rocky start when Carabins forward Jessica Cormier opened the scoring at 2:27 of the opening period but a red-hot Leslie Oles of Beaconsfield, Que., scored her first of two at 12:57 to knot the score at 1-1.
U de M forward Marion Allemoz regained the lead at 16:07 but it was to be their last marker, as the Martlets responded with six unanswered goals, including another in the first by Daoust to make it 2-2, followed by three in the middle period (Daoust, Gabrielle Davidson and Olivia Sutter) and two more in the final stanza (Daoust and Oles).
The seven-goal outburst was the most by McGill in their last 25 meetings against the Carabins since an 8-3 win on Nov. 17, 2012.
“It was a bit of relief when we finally started to score but it was more satisfaction than anything else,” said McGill team captain Katia Clement-Heydra. “To see that all of our efforts weren’t in vain. We worked very hard all year but didn’t always get the bounces. Tonight we did and it was the best feeling ever. We wanted redemption from last year when we lost the (conference) final to them on our home ice.”
The last goal by Oles, her sixth in five playoff games, chased all-star goaltender Elodie Rousseau-Sirois — for the second time in the series — who saved only 17 of 24 shots and took the loss. Marie-Pier Chabot played the final 12 minutes and turned aside both shots faced.
Oles, a four-time all-star sniper who has scored 143 career goals and 290 points in 196 games overall, needs five more markers at the upcoming CIS championship to tie the school’s all-time record held by Ann-Sophie Bettez.
Collecting the win between the pipes for McGill was Taylor Hough (1-0), a junior from Toronto, who was a surprise starter in place of Oakville native Brittany Smrke (3-1) and only recently returned from injury but hadn’t played since Jan. 31. Hough was credited with 18 saves on 20 shots.
“Honestly, Saturday’s loss was a great game for our development because I didn’t think we were very good,” said Smith, who improved his record to 420-15-31 overall behind the McGill bench. “We kind of got in a downward spiral and had a hard time getting out of it. When that game was over, we talked about what we needed to do better. I didn’t think that our emotional focus was quite where it needed to be and we discussed ways to get it back. The girls did a great job today of sticking with it. We came back twice in today’s game, stuck with it and played hard. I was very happy for them.”
McGill’s women’s basketball team also won the provincial title this past weekend and qualified for the national championships. Get the full story here.