Hockey, Sports

Martlets hockey returns with a bang, winning first game back against Carleton Ravens

On a chilly evening at McConnell Arena, the McGill Martlets hockey team (10–3–0) played their first game of the semester after over two months of hiatus due to recurring pandemic restrictions. The McGill team returned on Feb. 18 with style and determination, beating out the Carleton Ravens 3-0 (4–9–0).

From the get-go, the game seemed promising, with McGill taking first possession of the puck and team captain Jade Downie-Landry taking the first shot on goal. However, both the action and the enthusiasm died down for the rest of the first period.

Martlets forward Makenzie McCallum explained that the prolonged hiatus resulted in the team needing some time to find their footing on the ice once again. 

“It took a period for us to get back into the swing of things,” McCallum wrote to The McGill Tribune. “But once we found our rhythm, we were flying.”

Indeed, toward the end of the first period, a new-found energy made its way through the Martlets, and their shots on goal increased. But the Ravens’ defence remained strong, proving difficult to penetrate for the McGill attackers. Though the puck spent more time on the Ravens’ side of the ice, the Martlets were busy solidifying their strategy.

The second period saw a shift in the Martlets’ spirit. Netminder Tricia Deguire made several incredible saves, keeping the score at zero through her agile goaltending. Finally, after relentlessly pressuring the Ravens’ defence, first-year defenceman Jaime Kastelic scored the first goal of the game, assisted by forward Katie Rankin. The second period ended at 1-0, with every McGillian in the audience rejuvenated and at the edge of their seats. 

Both teams eased slowly into the third period, with McGill remaining cautious to keep the game in their favour. Several players, including Downie-Landry and centre Marika Labrecque, attempted shots on goal to no avail. 

Energies on both teams were high, yet the first half of the last period began to suggest a 1-0 finish. Then, with a burst of adrenaline, Downie-Landry scored with an assist by forward Stephanie Desjardins and defenceman Elizabeth Mura, bringing the game to 2-0 for the Martlets. 

Celebrations had barely ceased before Downie-Landry scored an unassisted third goal. Cheers soared through the crowd and players alike. With the score now at 3-0, and only 12 minutes left in the game, it was a sure win for the Martlets. With another game in hand, Downie-Landry is currently first in the nation for points among women’s U Sports hockey. 

Looking ahead to future games, Downie-Landry explained that the key to maintaining the streak is for the team to constantly adapt and adjust after every game. 

“As the game progressed, we started getting back into our good habits which we had worked [on] towards the first half of the season,” Downie-Landry wrote to the Tribune. “What will be important for our upcoming games is to build off of the positive, yet learn from what we could have done better. Our growth has been tremendous up until now.”

Moment of the game: Early in the second period, the Ravens were able to get the puck to the Martlets’ side. In a whirlwind of back and forths, goaltender Tricia Deguire was alone defending the net, with the puck fast approaching. The crowd sat in suspense, as a goal against McGill seemed inevitable. Yet, Deguire beat the odds, blocking the shot, saving the puck, and retaining a score of 1-0 for the team.

Quotable: “Our coaches have really helped our team develop to the group we have today and I think it showed last night. The young group of defence have done a great job stepping up, which helps our overall success.” – Forward Makenzie McCallum

Stat corner: With 196 points to her name, Martlets captain Jade Downie-Landry is close to becoming the seventh player in team history to break the 200-point mark.

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