KINGSTON, Ont. – The No. 6 Queen's Gaels are off to the McCaw Cup after a thrilling 2-1 win over the No. 10 Nipissing Lakers on Friday night. The Gaels were able to hold off a frantic surge by the Lakers in the final period to preserve the victory and advance to the OUA Championship which will be hosted by Queen's next Saturday against the Western Mustangs.
As has been the story all season, Stephanie Pascal (Sudbury, Ont.) was great in between the pipes for Queen's, making 32 saves in the victory.
The first period was a penalty-filled one, with the two teams combining for seven minor infractions. Queen's was able to take advantage of a power play early on when Hailey Wilson (Pickering, Ont.) banged home a rebound in front of the Lakers net on a five on three advantage. The goal came following a heavy point shot from Addi Halladay (North Augusta, Ont.) was stopped after some great puck movement from the Gaels.
Nipissing made a push near the halfway point of the period, directing plenty of shots towards Pascal, but the Gaels star netminder stood tall and turned aside all 11 shots she faced.
Halladay added a second goal for Queen's at 16:35 when she picked up a loose puck in front of the Lakers net and blasted a snap shot past Lakers goalie Jackie Rochefort to put the Gaels ahead 2-0 heading into the second period.
The second period was much like the first period in that both teams couldn't stay out of the penalty box once again. Queen's seemed to play a much more defensive game, while the Lakers were fighting to score their first of the game. The best chance of the period came for Nipissing when on a power play, Pascal had to make two great saves in tight to keep the Gaels 2-0 lead intact, much to the delight of the home crowd at the Memorial Centre.
Queen's would head to the third period with a 2-0 lead, one period away from a McCaw Cup appearance.
Nipissing gave Queen's all they could handle in the third period, as their season hung in the balance. The Lakers made a very bold move with just over seven minutes remaining when they pulled Rochefort from the net to add an extra attacker. The move worked out brilliantly as shortly after, Katelyn Heppner beat Pascal with a slap shot from the point that made it through plenty of traffic.
The Lakers pulled Rochefort once again with under two minutes remaining to make one final push, but the Gaels defence stood strong and would not give an inch. Pascal made 11 saves in the final frame, leading her team to victory and a chance at winning the McCaw Cup.
The Gaels will face the No. 9 Western Mustangs in a winner take all matchup for the OUA Championship next Saturday. Western eliminated Guelph tonight to sweep the other semifinal matchup with a 3-2 double overtime victory. Queen's was 1-1 this season vs. Western
Source: Queen's Gaels