In a game where the McGill Martlets were missing two key players, the Stingers were still unable to capture their first victory of the season against the number-one ranked team in the country.
With goaltender Charline Labonte and defenseman Cathy Chartrand off to the Canadian national team training camp, the unfazed Martlets defeated the Stingers 4-1 on Sunday afternoon at Ed Meagher Arena.
Martlets forward Vanessa Davidson had two goals and one assist in the victory, McGill’s fourth consecutive win against the Stingers this season.
The Martlets outplayed the Stingers for the most part of the game, creating many more scoring opportunities in the offensive zone.
It was the Stingers who surprisingly opened the scoring early. At the 4:04 mark of the first period, forward Tawnya Danis took a shot from inside the blue line that looked to fool Martlets goaltender Catherine Herron to make it 1-0.
Later in the period, the Stingers got themselves into penalty trouble. Forwards Emilie Luck and Donna Ringrose took coincidental slashing penalties, resulting in a Martlets five-on-three for the full two minutes. The Martlets tied the score at 1 on the power-play at the 11:12 mark when forward Shauna Denis potted a rebound past Stingers goaltender Meggy Hatin-Leveillee.
The Martlets continued to find ways to create scoring chances throughout the rest of the period, missing on a couple of 2 on 1 opportunities. Hatin-Leveillee kept the Stingers in the game and the score tied 1-1 heading into the second period.
The Stingers continued to be out chanced by a tougher Martlets team, but stayed in the game thanks to some key saves by their goaltender. Martlets forward Julie Casavecchia found herself on a partial breakaway early into the second, but was stopped by Hatin-Leveillee. Not long after, the Stingers almost took the lead when forward Maggie MacNeil broke down the left wing and took a shot that trickled through Herron’s pads right through the crease.
Hatin-Leveillee continued to hold her ground on a flurry of Martlet scoring chances, none bigger than when forward Catherine Hill found herself all alone on a breakaway with two minutes left in the period. Hill tried to deke around Hatin-Leveillee, but was stoned at the side of the net, keeping the score 1-1 heading to the third.
“Going into the third period 1-1 against the number-one team in the country, you hope your chances would be pretty good,” said head coach Les Lawton. “But that’s why they’re ranked so high; they react and did a good job coming out in the third period.”
At the start of the third period, coach Lawton made a goaltending change as Hatin-Leveillee left the game with a sprained thumb, an injury that she re-aggravated.
Stingers goaltender Audrey Doyon-Lessard entered the game to start the period, but was unable to contain the Martlets, as they were finally able to capitalize on their scoring chances. They took their first lead of the game when forward Jordanna Peroff tipped in a point shot 5:51 into the period, making it 2-1.
The Stingers thought they had tied the game about eight minutes in, but the goal scored was disallowed as the net was clearly off before the puck crossed the line.
“Obviously there were a couple of turning points in the game. I thought the net coming off and us throwing the puck in the net was a big one,” said Lawton.
The Martlets added to their lead when Davidson scored the first of her two goals. She left the penalty box and quickly moved in on a breakaway to rip a shot past Doyon-Lessard, making it 3-1 with just over 11 minutes to play. After the goal, the Stingers undisciplined actions continued as forward Angela Di Stasi took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, resulting in a power-play for the Martlets. Just 18 seconds later, Davidson found herself with an opening and scored her second of the afternoon, on the power-play, from the top of the right face-off circle, giving them a commanding 4-1 lead.
The Martlets never looked back and the Stingers were unable to muster any more scoring chances. Their frustrations eventually set in, as Stingers captain Rose Healy took a ten-minute misconduct and was ejected late in the game. Despite the loss, coach Lawton thought his team did a relatively good job against the tough Martlets squad.
“I thought we played relatively well. We were better than we have been in the last couple of games against them,” said Lawton. “We were a little more responsible defensively […] we got good goaltending also. Both our goalies played well and that’s one of the strengths of our team.”
Up next for the Stingers is a matchup against the Ottawa Gee Gees, next Saturday, February 2 at 2:30 p.m. at the Ed Meagher Arena.