Both McGill hockey teams to play for national title
By Jim Hynes
You win some, you lose some. But the good news for the McGill hockey team that fell short of a league championship this past weekend is that the ultimate prize is still within reach.
The hockey Martlets fall under “win some” after taking their fourth consecutive QSSF championship, sweeping the University of Ottawa Gee Gees in a best-of-three series. The hockey Redmen on the other hand were not so fortunate. They failed to defend their OUA Queen’s Cup title, dropping the one-game final 2-1 to the University of Western Ontario Mustangs in London, Ont., Saturday.
The Martlets easily captured the sixth QSSF title in school history, beating the Gee Gees 7-1 at McConnell Arena. Senior Vanessa Davidson of Kirkland, Que., and freshman Marie-Andrée Leclerc-Auger of Sherbrooke, Que., each had a pair of goals and Catherine Ward, a third-year rearguard from Town of Mt. Royal, Que., had a goal and two assists for McGill, which has now won 51 consecutive games against Canadian university opponents. Martlets Goalie Charline Labonté stopped 15 of the 16 shots she faced for her 25th win of the season. She now has a record of 102-9-3 in 114 career games at McGill.
The Martlets head into the CIS Championships in Antigonish, N.S., March 19-22 as the top seed for the third year in a row. The Martlets won their first-ever national title last year, beating the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks 2-0 in the tournament final. The tournament host and No. 5-ranked StFX X-Women (AUS finalists), the No. 2 Wilfrid Laurier (OUA champions), No. 3 Manitoba Bisons (Canada West champions), No. 4 Moncton Aigles Bleues (AUS champions) and No. 6 Ottawa Gee-Gees (QSSF finalists) join the Martlets in this year’s tournament. The national final can be seen Sunday on The Score Television Network on a two-hour tape delay at 10 p.m. Atlantic (9 p.m. Eastern).
Redemption for the Redmen?
At Thompson Arena in London, Western Ontario goaltender Brad Topping blocked 30 of the 31 shots the Redmen fired at him, leading his Mustangs to a 2-1 victory. Western’s Keaton Turkiewicz gave the Mustangs a 2-0 lead at the 9:25 mark of the second period, but McGill defenceman Ben Gazdic cut that lead in half three minutes later, beating Topping with a hard blast to the glove side. Topping barred the door the rest of the way, stopping all 12 shots he faced in the final frame. McGill failed to convert on two third period power plays. They were 0-5 overall with the man advantage.
All is not lost, however. As OUA finalists, both the Mustangs and Redmen get to play for the University Cup at the CIS Championships at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., March 26-29. As the host team, Lakehead gets one of the six championship spots. The Canada West champions (either the University of Alberta Golden Bears or the University of Saskatchewan Huskies) and Atlantic finalists UNB and St. Mary’s round out the tournament lineup. The Redmen came up short in last year’s championships, losing 7-3 to powerhouse Alberta before defeating Moncton 3-0. McGill also took part in the 2006 tournament.
With files from Earl Zukerman, McGill Athletics & Recreation