Sports

Photo: Marta Kierkus.

Gees’ first win in playoff series since 2008-09 season

The University of Ottawa Women’s Hockey team went into another year in the Réseau du Sport étudiant du Québec (RSÉQ) with stiff competition. Université de Montreal and Concordia University were staples in the top 10 in the nation, finishing fourth and seventh respectively.

In a low-scoring league, Mélodie Bouchard led the Gees with 16 points in 18 games, which was good enough for seventh in the league. This was her third straight year leading the Gees in the points category. Despite their goaltender Maude Levesque-Ryan sporting a 2.10 goals against average and a .933 save percentage, she only managed a 10-9 record, a testament to the Garnet and Grey’s lack of offence.

The Gees’ offensive attack was their biggest weakness in the regular season, scoring only 44 goals in 20 games, which only put them ahead of the lonely Carleton Ravens, who won three games all year, and putting up five in a game only once.

Despite their offensive struggles, the Gees stormed out to a 5-2-1 record with two wins facing Concordia. However, their struggles against Montreal were just beginning, as the Gees lost all five matchups throughout the year. This stopped Ottawa from gathering any serious momentum throughout the year, and they never won more than three games in a row.

A mediocre season did not mean the Gees had no chance against Concordia in the first round of their playoffs—far from it, actually. The Garnet and Grey finished with a 3-1-1 record against the Stingers, eventually losing their final matchup of the regular season to their future first round rivals 3-2 in an extra period.

Alyssa MacMillan talked about her team’s expectations going into the series. “We beat them in our series throughout the season, in our five games against them we came out of top. We were going in knowing that it was going to be a tough fight.”

The tight last regular season game did not reflect the Gee-Gees’ first game of the playoffs, as it started and ended poorly for the U of O. The Stingers connected with the back of the net 11 seconds into the game as they were awarded a penalty shot. Offensive struggles hurt the Gees in the regular season, but never to this extent, they were outshot by an incredible 40-14, and the Stingers chased Levesque-Ryan from the net.

Following the big loss, the Gee-Gees came out completely rejuvenated and showed why they won the season series. Levesque-Ryan came back with a great performance, stopping all 28 shots and Meagan McGaughey and Melina Roy provided all the offence necessary. The shots were slightly in favour of the Stingers, as they held the advantage 28-27.

“Our 5-0 loss was a pretty big hit to take, but we were missing a couple girls,” said MacMillan. “We knew it was do or die for that second game, and we came out hard.”

The final game of the three-game series went down to the wire, and resembled a more usual matchup that happened throughout the season. The first period both teams went back and forth, the shots were even at seven, but the Gees missed three power-play opportunities, and went 0-6 on the man advantage in the game. The second period was ultimately the Gee-Gees’ downfall, giving up both of the Stingers’ goals with one coming on the power-play.

The only goal recorded for the Gees was in the start of the third period by McCaughey. Ultimately, the lack of an offensive attack resulted in the end of the Gee-Gees’ season. They were only able to record 19 shots on goal despite having six power-play opportunities.

With a very young team, the Gees will need to address a prevalent lack of offence if they wish to win a playoff series down the road.