Gaels grab bronze in first CIS final

The Queen’s Golden Gaels struck bronze Sunday afternoon, defeating the host Laurier Golden Hawks in an epic 1-0 affair.

Graduating defenceman Kerstin van Bolderin potted the game winner from (fittingly) graduating winger Elizabeth Kench on a two-on-one with just less than two minutes remaining in the third period to lift the Gaels to Queen’s first ever CIS hockey medal.

“It felt awesome,” the ecstatic van Bolderin commented. “It was the biggest goal of my life, and I feel good. I haven’t had too much luck scoring this year, so I just did my best and ended up putting it in the perfect spot.”

Despite the 1-0 final, both teams had a plethora of chances including a wrister from Kelsey Thomson hitting the post on the power play in the first, and Queen’s star goaltender Mel Dodd-Moher stuffing Golden Hawk forward Andrea Shapero on a second period penalty shot after she had been hauled down by Michelle Hunt on the breakaway.

The aforementioned Dodd-Moher was truly the story of the game, stoning the Hawks again and again. Dodd-Moher, a native of Stittsville, Ontario, made 33 saves in the shutout.

“[Dodd-Moher] has been so solid during this playoff run,” said Queen’s Head Coach Matt Holmberg. “It’s kind of a cliché, but all I can say is she has been in some kind of zone. She isn’t the only reason why we’ve been winning, but certainly she’s a big piece.”

It was a tight, tense match-up that was remarkably the sixth meeting of the two squads during the 2010-2011 season. After the Gaels had dropped all three regular season meetings, they really stepped it up in the playoffs, beating the Hawks when it really mattered. Ironically it was after January 9th and an embarrassing 8-1 defeat at the hands of Laurier that the Gaels reloaded and built up to the team that captured bronze from the clutches of the Hawks on Laurier’s home ice.

“We got together as a team [after that game],” Coach Holmberg continued. “And we decided to set out what are some of the characteristics of a championship team…It was a bit of a slow process, but it came along with the confidence, and courage, and sacrifice that lead to it.”

Yet even after knocking Laurier out in the first round the playoffs, the Gaels still needed to come up big to take down the mighty Golden Hawks.

“We have to give a lot of credit to our goalie,” van Bolderin said. “But we’ve played them a number of times, and we know some of their plays. It was all five of us though [that beat them], and you have to play defense to play offense.”

With the victory, the Gaels complete a remarkable season that saw them finish as OUA Champions and National Bronze Medalists, despite being concluding the regular season in only fourth place. Yet the joyous girls from Kingston refuse to be labelled ‘underdogs’.

“We never looked at ourselves as being a Cinderella story,” concluded Holmberg. “We always knew that we had the ability to do it, it was just a matter of getting it done.”

“I am just so proud of these girls,” he said, a grin as wide as the distance from Waterloo to Kingston across his face.