Melodie Daoust scored three goals as the top-seeded McGill University women’s hockey team dominated the No.8-seeded Calgary Dinos in a CIS Final Eight national championship quarter-final at the Markin MacPhail Centre, Thursday.
The Quebec conference champion Martlets, who earned a bye on Friday, will meet AUS champion St. Francis Xavier in a sudden-death semifinal slated for Saturday at 5 p.m. (Eastern). The X-Women advanced after rallying from a three-goal deficit for a 4-3 win over Guelph.
“It was a great feeling to come out strong and get a win in our first game,” said Daoust, the Canadian Olympic gold medallist from Valleyfield, Que., who has now scored back-to-back hat-tricks in post-season play since being moved from right-wing to centre. “It helps settle down the nerves and now we can just focus on playing our game. We did a pretty good job on the power-play today and created lots of scoring opportunities. I credit my teammates for my hat-trick, they made some nice passes and I just had to take the shot. I like being moved over to centre, it forces me to keep my legs moving and I can get lower in our zone and help out our ‘D’ in the corner.”
Daoust, who missed the team’s first 31 games since undergoing surgery last August to repair a lower-body injury, has made up for lost time with nine goals and 21 points in nine contests since returning to the lineup.
“Mélodie is shooting the puck more and that’s really the key to her scoring in the last couple of games,” said McGill head coach Peter Smith, who improved to 29-11 lifetime at the CIS tournament. “When she came back (from her injury), she collected a lot of assists but was passing up opportunities to shoot the puck. Now she’s managing the puck a whole lot better. She’s passing when she should and shooting when she should. She’s got a heckuva shot and needs to use it.”
The Dinos had a difficult time adjusting to McGill’s speed and the visitors took advantage of a plethora of Calgary penalties, going 3-for-8 on the power-play, including the game’s first three markers, from All-Canadian rearguard Kelsie Moffatt at 5:11 and two by Daoust at 11:41 and 13:52.
The 3-0 lead prompted a goaltending change for Calgary as starter Carissa Fischer, who saved five of eight shots, was pulled and took the loss. She was replaced by Hayley Dowling, who also conceded three goals but faced 17 shots.
“Obviously those first three goals on the power play were huge,” said Smith. “We’ve worked on it all year and it has improved over the course of the season. That said, there were times in our defensive zone that we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be, so we’ll need to shore that up a little bit.”
The Dinos, who only had two shots on goal in the first period, outscored McGill 2-1 in the second frame with goals from CIS player of the year Iya Gavrilova and Chelsea Peterson,sandwiched around an unassisted marker by McGill’s Leslie Oles, who later added an assist and was named as McGill’s player of the game.
It was the 144th career goal — in 197 games overall — by Oles, four shy of the school’s all-time record held by Ann Sophie Bettez, who graduated in 2012.
McGill poured in ffour unanswered goals in the final frame, sparked by Gabrielle Davidson, who put the game out of reach at 7:07 to make it 5-1. The remainder of the period was scoreless until the final moments when senior blueliner Elizabeth Hillier notched an empty-netter at 17:04 to make it 6-2. It was only her fourth career goal in 133 games. Teammate Joanne Cagianos added another at 18:33. It was her first of the season in 39 games overall and fifth career marker.
Trailing 7-2 in the last minute, for some reason Calgary elected to pull their goalie again and that led to Daoust completing her hat-trick into the empty net.
McGill, which snuffed out all three shorthanded situations, finished with a 27-20 edge in shots as junior Taylor Hough made her second straight start between the pipes and registered 18 saves for the victory.
Erika Mitschke was named player of the game for the Dinos.
Dinos head coach Danielle Goyette , a former Canadian Olympian, pointed to the penalty parade in the first period as her team’s undoing.
“We can’t blame anyone besides ourselves,” said Goyette. “We put ourselves in that position in the first period and we paid for it. We created turnovers applying pressure but it’s hard to get momentum going when you’re only playing five-on-five for a few minutes at a time.”
Calgary will take on the fifth-seeded Guelph Gryphons, who fell to the X-Women in the earlier quarterfinal, on the consolation side of the draw Friday morning at 13 p.m. (Eastern) .
MARTLET MURMURS: Calgary and McGill have only faced each other twice before… At the 2012 Nationals, Calgary blanked McGill 1-0 in the preliminary round en route to claiming their first national title. It was the only goal allowed by McGill in the three-game tourney but the Martlets had to play for bronze. It was also McGill’s last loss at the CIS tourney and they have now won six in a row.