McGill strikes gold in Waterloo

In the end, it was no contest.

The McGill Martlets’ women’s hockey team cruised to their third national championship in four years, as they beat the St. Francis Xavier University X-Women, 5-2 at the Waterloo Recreational Complex in front of 1032 fans on Sunday night.

Carrying three Canadian national team veterans in goaltender Charline Labonte, defenseman, captain Cathy Chartrand, and blueliner Gillian Ferrari, the Martlets were clearly playing at a level above the rest of the tournament all weekend.

Ann-Sophie Bettez opened the floodgates for McGill late in the first period, notching her first of the tournament on the powerplay.

Leslie Oles and Caroline Hill added singles of their own, both their second of the national competition held in Waterloo, just 38 seconds apart.

The quick serpent-like strikes effectively ended the X-Women’s drive and sunk their spirits for the rest of the game.

Jasmine Sheehan and Alessandra Lind-Kenny tallied third-period markers to cap off the win.

It was a familiar game-plan for the Martlets.

To reach the gold-medal game, McGill ended Queen’s Cinderella run in the round-robin tournament with a 3-1 victory.

Both the game-winner and the insurance marker came within 2:33.

The Martlets went 3-0 in the tournament to improve their record to 33-0 versus all Canadian Interuniversity Sport this year.

They have lost only once in the past four years in official league play.

The Alberta Pandas held the key to their demise in the gold-medal final in 2010.

“This one ranks way up there,” said Martlets’ head coach Peter Smith. “We’ve had a great season, a great team, but there’s a lot of coaching going on… to be able to come back and win this year was pretty special.”

First year Leslie Oles gave a standout performance all tournament, adding a goal and three assists to her resume as well as a pivotal blocked shot in the second frame.

Labonte appreciated the Beaconsfield native’s effort.

The Team Canada veteran skated over to the bench during a whistle and offered her appreciation.

“We’ve been talking about sacrifices,” said Labonte. “How it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be painful, but at the end, it’s going to be worth it. She got in front of that shot, she got hurt (but stayed in the game), but you know, that’s what it takes. (I said) thank you and keep it up.”

Jordanna Peroff was also among leading tournament scorers, adding two goals and three assists in the championship effort and took home the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

Carolyn Campbell and Suzanne Fenerty replied for St. FX in the loss.

It was the X-Women’s first foray into a gold-medal final, and the silver is their best-ever finish.

“I believe that’s the first medal for the AUS (Atlantic University Sport), and I think it’s terrific,” said Smith.

“I give them a lot of credit,” continued the coach. “I thought they played hard. We had 26 shots on net; that’s one of our lowest shot totals we’ve had all year… they were doing some good things out there.”

Though what the X-Women may be more famous for in Waterloo was dashing the hopes of the host Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in the round robin, 4-3 to prevent the Hawks from facing the Martlets in the final.

“We’re blessed with the people we have in the program,” said Smith of McGill.

With a 113-1 record in CIS competition in the last four years, the Martlets must feel like they’ve not only been blessed with gold, but have reached seventh heaven.

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