By McGill Reporter Staff
Sophomore forward Benoit Levesque capped a three-goal rally with the eventual game-winner at 6:43 of the second period as the No.2-ranked McGill hockey Redmen skated to a 3-2 victory over the Queen’s Golden Gaels in the opening game of the OUA East quarter-finals at McConnell Arena, Wednesday. The Redmen, who have won 20 consecutive games over their rivals from Kingston, Ont., lead the best-of-three series 1-0.
The Redmen finished first in the 10-team OUA East Division with a 22-4-2 record, while the Gaels ended up eighth with a 13-13-2 mark. McGill swept both meetings between the teams this season, winning 3-2 in Kingston on Nov. 11 and 6-0 in Montreal on Nov. 19. Game 2 is slated for the Kingston Memorial Centre tonight at 7:20 p.m.
The No. 2-ranked hockey Martlets will close out their season with a home game against the Concordia Stingers (3-13-1) Sunday, Feb. 19 at McConnell Arena (2 p.m.). The Martlets, who sit atop the RSEQ standings with a 17-1-1 record, cancelled an exhibition game against the Montreal Stars that was scheduled to take place Friday, Feb. 17. Considering the intensity of the previous meeting between the two clubs, a 4-1 Stars victory on Jan. 18 that included an injury to McGill captain Cathy Chartrand, Coach Peter Smith decided that it was too risky to have an exhibition game the week before playoffs. The Quebec league best-of-three semifinals begin Feb. 22.
The Volleyball Martlets returned to the CIS Top 10 rankings (10th) after upsetting the Laval Rouge et Or in a best-of-three Quebec women’s volleyball semifinal series last weekend. Victoria Pelletier came off the bench to spark an unlikely rally and Marie-Christine Lapointe racked up 16 kills, three aces and five stuff blocks as McGill erased a 2-0 deficit in sets to upset No.7-ranked Laval 3-2 to take the series 2-1 at the Centre PEPS, Saturday.
It was McGill’s first-ever playoff series victory over the perennially powerful Rouge et Or program, which will miss the CIS championship for only the second time in the last 21 years. The Martlets advanced to the conference final against the division-leading UdeM Carabins. More importantly, the Martlets automatically qualified for a berth at the CIS national championship in Hamilton, Ont., March 2-4. It’s only the second time in school history that the team will be going to Nationals and the first time since 1997.
McGill had dropped the opener 3-2 in Quebec City on Friday and came-from-behind at home on Saturday to win 3-1 and force the rubber match. After losing the first two sets 17-25 and 22-25 in the decisive match, the McGill women roared back to win 25-19, 25-23 and 15-6 in a shocker that took two hours and 15 minutes to complete.
A huge momentum shift took place in the third set when McGill head coach Rachèle Béliveau inserted Pelletier, a third-year senior, into the game while the score was tied 8-8. The 5-foot-9 power-hitter from Westmount, Que., was a dynamo on the court, contributing eight digs, six kills, an ace, two blocks and a perfect 3.0 passing ratio.
Before heading off to Nationals, the Martlets, who finished third in the four-team RSEQ conference, still have some local business to care of. They are headed to best-of-three Quebec final for only the third time in school history. The event will be played out over the next two weekends, beginning with Game 1 at U de M on Friday, Feb. 17. The return engagement is set for McGill on Feb. 24. If needed, Game 3 will be back at UdeM on Feb. 25.
Winning the RSEQ title would give McGill a higher seed at Nationals.
With files from Earl Zukerman, McGill Athletics and Recreation