McGill, St. F.X. advance to CIS women's hockey final
It will be a battle of unbeatens for the Canadian university women's hockey crown.
The McGill Martlets and St. Francis Xavier X-Women advanced to Sunday's championship game after impressive victories in both teams' round-robin finales Saturday.
The Quebec champion Martlets, who are 26-0 on the season, will be playing in their fifth-straight CIS championship after defeating the Queen's Gaels 3-1.
Meanwhile, the Atlantic winners from St. F.X. boast a record of 29-0 after a 4-3 victory over the Manitoba Bisons.
No. 1 McGill has won two Canadian university titles, while St. F.X. has never played in a national final.
"We certainly know how good they are," X-Women head coach David Synishin said of his team's matchup with the Martlets.
"They're really deep throughout their lineup, starting from the goalie right out, they really have no weaknesses, we'll certainly have to play above our potential."
Carolyn Campbell put the X-Women ahead of the Bisons for good with less than 10 minutes left in a wild third period.
Alex Hansome had a pair of goals for St. F.X., while Shannon Crenzel also scored. Chelsea Braun, Rachele Bosc and Addie Miles replied for the Bisons.
"Dramatics are nice if you're on the right side of them," Synishin said. "Mentally, we know that our best hockey is in the third period. We've always been able to wear teams down and we were able to do that again tonight."
In the earlier game, the Martlets downed a streaking Queen's squad that had won 12 straight, including seven in the post-season.
McGill got on the board in the first minute of the game on the power play through Katia Clemente-Heydra, but the Gaels tied it eight minutes later on a goal from Kelsey Thomson.
McGill took control in the second period, adding a pair of goals from Jordan Peroff and Alyssa Cecere.
"We had a tight start," said McGill head coach Peter Smith. "We were a bit nervous on Thursday and I thought we were even more nervous in the first period today. But I give Queen's full credit —they came out and played us tough."
McGill captain and former Canadian national team member Cathy Chartrand says her team's experience, which included two other former Olympians in goalie Cahline Labonte and defenceman Gillian Ferrari, made the difference.
"We just stayed composed," she said. "We've been through very tight games in the regular season and I thought that helped us prepare and I thought that helped us stay calm."
Sunday's gold medal match-up will be the 16th meeting between St. F.X. and McGill, with the Martlets holding a 11-2-2 edge.
Before Sunday's final, Laurier and Queen's will play in the bronze-medal game, with Manitoba and Alberta playing for fifth.