The Gee-Gees will enter 2017 with a 6–4 win-loss record. Photo: Kyle Darbyson.
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U of O women’s hockey team finishes 2016 on a down note

The University of Ottawa women’s hockey team had a lot riding on their Sunday matchup against McGill. Not only could a victory secure them the top spot in the Réseau de sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) going into 2017, but a clean win at the Minto Sports Complex would also help keep their undefeated record on home ice intact.

Unfortunately, that outcome just wasn’t in the cards. Despite putting in a solid effort, the Gees couldn’t keep up with the sheer size and speed of McGill’s players and fell to the Martlets by a final score of 4–2.

While the two-goal margin may suggest a more lopsided affair, the vast majority of this game could best be described as a “dead heat” between the two teams.

The tone was set in the first five minutes of the first period, when a Gees goal from Carol-Ann Upshall was quickly countered by one from Melodie Daoust for the Martlets.

The same kind of back-and-forth scoring was present late in the second period as well, with a series of power-play goals by the Martlets’ Nicole Howlett and Marimée Godbout-Parent for the Gees, making the game a respectable 2–2 contest.

“I think we threw our bodies around,” said Gees defender Bryanna Neuwald, explaining how they were able to compete with a team that is much faster and more physically imposing. “Even though we’re small I think we’re a tough group of girls. We went into the corners and we came out with the puck just as often as they did.”

Unfortunately, the wheels began to fall off in the third period, with the Gees being put on the defensive for much of the final 20 minutes. This all came to a head when a questionable delay of game penalty was called against the U of O late in the third, which lead to a McGill goal less than a minute later.

“I don’t want to blame the refs, but that call was not in the handbook,” said Neuwald. “So, that kind of put us back a step. I think we let it bother us a little bit too much.”

Even though the Gees made a valiant effort to even things up in the remaining four minutes of the game, it just wasn’t meant to be. The Martlets scored an empty-netter in the dying seconds of the third period to make it a final of 4–2.

“I feel sometimes we try to be ‘pretty’ and being ‘pretty’ in this league doesn’t work,” said head coach Yanick Evola, commenting on his team’s reliance on overly elaborate offence. “You need to get your hands dirty and go to the net hard and get some rebounds. Sometimes it’s going to hurt but this is how you score goals in this league.”

While the result of Sunday’s game wasn’t what he was hoping for, Evola still believes that his team has the talent and the drive to claim the top spot in the RSEQ in 2017.

“I think we have all the ingredients to have success in this league,” he said. “We’ve shown it. We beat McGill, we’ve beaten Montreal (in the past), now we need to repeat it day after day.”

The Gee-Gees are now taking a much-deserved holiday break, but will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 2 p.m. at the Minto Sports Complex where they will be taking on the Concordia Stingers. You can purchase tickets here.