Photo: Courtesy of Ellen Bond.
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U of O women’s hockey continues to vie for top spot in RSEQ

After suffering a tough loss at the hands of the Montreal Carabins on the road, the University of Ottawa women’s hockey team returned home to try and regain some footing at the top of the Réseau de sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ).

On Sunday, Nov. 27 they were able to recover some of that lost ground by besting the Concordia Stingers in a thrilling overtime match-up at the Minto Sports Complex.

Even though Concordia is ranked near the bottom of the RSEQ, they definitely came to play on Sunday and kept the Gee-Gees on their toes right until the bitter end.

Despite the fact that the Gees took a 1–0 lead two minutes into the game, thanks to a goal from forward Cindy Laurin, both teams had their offensive units firing on all cylinders throughout the first period.

This intensity continued into the second, even after Marimée Godbout-Parent found the back of the net five minutes in, giving the Gees a 2–0 advantage going into the third.

In fact, the Stingers’ inability to capitalize on any of their numerous opportunities for the first 40 minutes was mostly due to Gees goaltender Émilie Bouchard, who hasn’t started in net since their Oct. 22 home opener against Carleton.

Despite this long stretch of time in between games, Bouchard looked right at home on the ice and managed 27 total saves on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s the mental side of being a goalie—always be ready,” said Bouchard, explaining how she was able to seamlessly slip back in between the pipes after over a month. “During all the time that I was not playing I did my visualization game, I always went to practice, I always do my work.”

However, despite Bouchard’s solid performance, Concordia’s never-say-die offence eventually started paying dividends at the very end of the third period. With less than three minutes left in regular time, the Stingers scored two goals in rapid succession to send the game to overtime.

Once overtime started, the Gees’ offence didn’t waste time resolving the situation. All-star forward Mélodie Bouchard broke through Concordia’s defense 25 seconds into the extra frame, roofing the puck into the top shelf and securing a 3–2 victory for the Gees.

“I thought we played outstanding today,” said Gee-Gees head coach Yanick Evola. “We asked for some consistency for 60 minutes and I thought we did play for 60 minutes.”

Now that the first half of the regular season is almost behind them, Evola believes his team should be able to look back on their efforts over the last month-and-a-half with pride, especially now that they are, as today, sitting at the top of the RSEQ.

“There’s no cake walk in this league, I can guarantee,” he said. “Every game is hard fought. Whether it be Carleton, Concordia, McGill, Montreal, you’ve got to play your best … you need to compete every day and that’s what we’re doing.”

For their final regular season game of 2016, the Gees will be taking on the McGill Martlets on Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. at the Minto Sports Complex. Tickets are available here.