Monday, July 18, 2011

Women's Hockey - 2010 - 2011 season re-cap


So I've decided to try my hand as a blogger! I thought that it would be a good start for our supporters, alumnae, friends and family to know a little bit more about this past year’s team and why we’re so excited to get started in September, 2011!

First I’d like to give you a quick look back. Last season built on the success of the previous one, and ultimately became one of the best and most historic years in Queen’s women’s hockey history. The team went a respectable 15-8-4 in the regular season, good enough for 4th place in the tough OUA conference. However, the best was saved for last. The Gaels first beat #10 nationally ranked Windsor 2-1 in very tough double overtime game in the quarter finals. That gave the team a date with nemesis, reigning 7 time OUA champions and #2 nationally ranked Laurier. A pair of stunning 2-1 overtime victories later and the team was on to its first OUA championship final in five years!

The first game (against #7 nationally ranked Guelph) turned out to be one for the record books. Literally! The game was won by the Gaels, again 2-1, but this time in the 6th overtime period! That nine period marathon is now listed as the second longest hockey game in history and jerseys, sticks and pucks from that event are going to be displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Less than 48 hours later the teams were back at it again. This time Guelph got the jump and moved out to a 2-0 lead. However, the Gaels kept battling and brought the score to within one just before the end of the second period. A second goal half-way through the third period sent the team into yet another overtime. This time it was decided on a last second buzzer beater at the end of the first overtime and Queen’s had captured its first OUA championship in 32 years!

The OUA championship also secured a spot at the CIS national championship, another first for Queen’s women’s hockey. First up was defending champion and #3 nationally ranked Alberta. The Gaels continued their determined play and won another thriller, 2-1 in a shoot-out!

The next game was against #1 ranked McGill. Queen’s gave the Olympian-laden team all they could handle but ultimately fell short, losing 3-1.

That loss sent Queen’s to the bronze medal game against host and rival Laurier. In another close game, Queen’s earned the medal with a 1-0 win, scoring the winner with less than 2 minutes to go to cap off a magical and memorable season. Of note, McGill defeated St. FX in the championship game 5-2 to claim the national title.

On the ice, the team represented the school with energy, determination and excitement. They displayed remarkable character and never quit. Off the ice, the team was extremely close and it was clear that they savoured and loved every minute of it!

Without limiting the other accomplishments, some notable performances included:

- Kelsey Thomson finished second in the OUA in scoring and was a 1st team OUA all-star;
- Morgan McHaffie finished fifth in OUA scoring and was a 2nd team OUA all-star, Morgan also scored the goal to win the 9 period historic marathon game;
- Mel Dodd-Moher was in goal for every overtime win, including stopping over 65 shots in the 9 period marathon. Mel was also named the CIS championship tournament all-star goalie and named co-winner of the Performance of the Year award at the Queen’s Athletics Colour Awards ceremony;
- Kelsey Thomson and Becky Conroy each cracked the 100 point plateau in their careers, joining Liz Kench, who reached that mark last season; and

The team's success was further recognized when the OUA later honoured me as the Fox 40 male coach of the year.

The Gaels will look to continue the winning trend in 2011-2012. Despite the loss of some highly respected leaders, team-mates and friends, we are blessed to have key contributors to our playoff run returning, in addition to a strong incoming rookie class. However, eventhough there’s plenty of optimism for another great year, the league keeps getting better, and parity is now at an all-time high. I know that other teams have recruited well and are eager to show that they are ready to contest for a championship so we will need to be focused and prepared. There is no doubt that 2011-2012 will be another exciting season and I know that the coaching staff is looking forward to September!

I'll try to add some pictures over the next couple of weeks. Look for future posts where I'll discuss our exhibition plans, new uniforms, etc.

Until then, take care - I hope you are all enjoying your summer!

Coach Matt Holmberg