Another day, another upset
The Queen’s Gaels just can’t seem to stop winning games in dramatic fashion. They also can’t seem to stop knocking off teams they seem to have no business beating.
The latest victims of the Gaels, who are looking more and more like a team of destiny, came in the form of the defending national champion Alberta Pandas. The Gaels downed the Pandas 2-1 in a shoot-out, continuing their unbelievable post-season run and ending any chances of there being a back-to-back champion in 2011.
“You may not believe me, but I’d love to win one in regulation for once,” laughed Queen’s head coach Matt Holmberg. “But we’ll take it anyway we can and the girls really gutted out a tight one tonight.”
Queen’s Elizabeth Kench and Alberta’s Leah Copeland would trade goals in what turned out to be a sloppy, if not uneventful 60 minutes of regulation. And when the game went to the extra frame, it was nothing new for the Gaels, who have now played seven straight games that have had to go beyond regulation, including a North American collegiate record six-overtime marathon in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) finals versus Guelph.
Once in the shoot-out, the story of the game for Queen’s proved to be even more of a clutch performer. Second-year goalie Mel Dodd-Moher stopped all three Pandas attempts, while fifth-year forward Kelsey Thompson scored for the Gales, keeping the Cinderella run alive.
“I can’t say enough about her, she’s been so solid for us,” said Holmberg of Dodd-Moher. “It has been a team effort, team success but she’s been a massive part of that.”
Dodd-Moher has likely been the biggest factor to the Gaels’ playoff run. In the string of upsets that has now seen Queen’s win seven-straight, Dodd-Moher has faced 242 shots, only allowing seven goals in what is now over 258 minutes of action.
“We just keep going, no matter how many periods we play,” said Dodd-Moher. “We obviously came in here as underdogs and we’re playing that way. We’re just playing to win.”
While their seventh-straight extra time win kept the Gaels’ unpredictable playoff run alive, it has also put them in a tough spot. At this tournament an overtime or shoot-out win only awards a team with two points, while a regulation win garners three.
This means that in order to be playing for something more than bronze on Sunday, Queen’s will need to win in regulation tomorrow afternoon versus the undefeated McGill Martlets, who currently have three points after beating Alberta on Thursday. Despite their task, the Gaels aren’t intimidated by the nation’s number one team.
“I’m excited,” said Dodd-Moher of her team’s impending match-up with McGill. “They’re definitely the team to beat and we’re not scared at all.”
While the Gaels look forward to making a run at turning their playoff magic into a national championship, the Pandas are faced with the harsh realization that their shot at defending their title is over.
“It’s bearable if you’ve played well,” said Alberta head coach Howie Draper. “Not to take anything away from Queen’s because they played their game plan to a tee, but I think each and everyone of us have to look at ourselves and ask whether or not we could’ve been better.”
The Pandas will now play in Sunday’s fifth-sixth game, where they can still play any of Laurier, Manitoba or St. F.X.