Following a disappointing 2022-23 season ending with a 2–32 record overall, the McGill Martlets hoped to start off on a better foot facing off against the Bishop’s Gaiters in a preseason match-up on Sept. 8. However, just 56 seconds into the first period, Bishops’ defenseman slid the puck past Martlets goalkeeper Sarah Carmichael, kicking off an early lead that McGill would not be able to counter for the remainder of the game.
Playing with a fresh roster composed of eight new players coming into the first game of the preseason, it was apparent that the Martlets struggled to gain their foothold. Despite attempts to generate offensive momentum, including first-year India Benoit’s rush into the offensive zone, the first period consisted mostly of sloppy passes, mishandled pucks, and sporadic possession. In the final minute of the period, Carmichael took a glancing blow off the helmet, saving a hard shot on a Bishop’s two-on-one. This led to the Gaiters keeping their lead at 3-0 lead heading into intermission.
Still, all three of Bishops’ first-period goals were scored in the first half of the period, and although McGill allowed two goals apiece in the following two periods, the pace of the game would improve steadily as the Martlets slowly found their footing.
Undeterred by the rough start to the game, Martlets’ forward Sarah-Maude Lavoie, whose standout performance kept the game competitive, believed the game was a stepping stone for the team.
“The first period was hard because it was the first time playing together but it got better,” Lavoie said. “We know now [what we need to work on], so I think we’re going to go in the right direction.”
The second period started with another early goal from Bishop’s but by the close of the period, the Martlets were able to better hold off their opponents’ offensive rushes, ending the period with a misleading 5-0 score.
The game ended in a 7-0 defeat for the Martlets, but despite the blowout score, head coach Alyssa Cecere remained optimistic about the coming season.
“Having a stronger start would be something the girls would want to focus on [and] us as a staff would want to focus on,” Cecere said. “We know we’re not going to necessarily get it all done in the first game, the second game, and we’re building up to the season.”
First year forward Taylor Garcia mentioned the challenging transition from youth hockey to the varsity level.
“It’s definitely [that] the game just moves a lot faster, you have to make decisions much quicker because everyone is just older and at the next level,” Garcia told //The Tribune//.
Although the Martlets home opener ended with a disappointing loss, the season will progress and the game shouldn’t be taken as a harbinger. How the young team will respond to the challenges of the coming season remains to be seen, but with the confidence of the coach behind their backs, this will test their capacity for growth.
//The Martlets will play their next preseason game against St. Thomas University at McConnell Arena on Sept. 23.//
Moment of the Game: The Martlets put forth a valiant effort during a penalty-kill halfway through the second period, including an impressive forecheck ending in a shot by forward Sarah-Maude Lavoie.
“New batch, new blood, fresh legs, that I would say is the notable thing, […] They’re eager to learn, they’re going to push the others as well. You saw it today, they work hard, they’ve got some good hockey sense, some good skills, we’re excited about that.”
–Head coach Alyssa Cecere on the team’s potential
Stat Corner: Despite allowing 14 shots on goal in the first period, the Martlets were able to cut Bishop’s momentum in half by the end of the game allowing only seven shots on goal in the third period.