NAPANEE – SPORTS – The No.3 Saint Mary’s Huskies scored a goal in all three periods and added an empty-netter to defeat the host No.8 Queen’s Gaels 4-1 on Sunday to claim fifth place at the 2017 U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship at the Strathcona Paper Centre in Napanee, Ont.
The AUS champion Huskies close out their season with a fifth-place finish in Canada after the victory over the Gaels, having entered the tournament as the third-ranked squad finishing with 2-1 record . For the Gaels, they close out their season as the highest remaining team from their conference claiming sixth in the nation.
“It was a good game for the fans, there was a great crowd here,” said Saint Mary’s head coach Chris Larade. “I’m not sure either team played their best game, but we’ll be able to enjoy the day and head home with a few wins.”
Larade thanked his graduating class for their contributions to Huskies hockey following the game.
“Programs like ours don’t move forward unless you have quality people, and our graduating class is that,” said Larade. “We always say we recruit people, not just hockey players, and they’ve been great for us.”
Stephanie Pascal finished with 19 saves for the Gaels in the loss while Rebecca Clark had 29 saves for the Huskies. Rebecca Weagle was also given a taste of action in the final minutes for Saint Mary’s, stopping four of five shots.
The Huskies were led by Caitlyn Manning and Mary Worndl who each had two-point games with a goal and an assist. Manning finished the championship with three points across her three games played to lead Saint Mary’s. The lone Queen’s goal came off the stick of Amber Sealey, while Nadia Larocca had two points in the championship to lead Queen’s.
The Huskies scored goals in each of the first two opening periods, with Hannah Askin putting a one-timer shot on the power play past Pascal. In the second, it was Siobhan Birch who chipped in a puck in tight on the Gaels’ net.
Saint Mary’s put the game away in the third period, as Worndl scored straight off an offensive zone faceoff, deking the Gaels’ defence and Pascal before depositing the puck to the back of the net.
Weagle got a chance to finish off the tournament for the Huskies, swapping spots with Clark. After the Huskies scored an empty-netter, the Gaels broke the shutout bid with Amber Sealey tallying a power play goal.
After 60 minutes, Saint Mary’s took the win 4-1 over Queen’s.
“Despite coming in sixth and a 1-2 record, I couldn’t be more proud of how the team battled,” said Queen’s head coach Matt Holmberg. “From the first faceoff against UBC to the last period against Saint Mary’s, we played our best hockey of the year.”
Holmberg said the experience of not only playing in, but competing at, a national tournament will be massive for his program going forward.
“This is a great experience for our players that are returning,” said the Queen’s bench boss. “They know that they can compete at this level, and they’re already excited to make another run next year.”
GAME NOTES: Saint Mary’s put senior backup Rebecca Weagle in net for the final 4:54 of the third period…The 2017 U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship was the first hosted by Queen’s University.