McGill top St. FX in women's CIS hockey final
After a brief hiatus, the McGill Martlets are back on top of university women's hockey in Canada.
The Martlets beat the St. Francis Xavier X-Women 5-2 in the CIS gold medal game on Sunday night, marking their third national title in the past five seasons.
The Martlets, who entered the tournament ranked No. 1 and completed the season 27-0, lost last year in the championship game to the University of Alberta.
It was the first loss all year for the X-Women who came into the national title game at 29-0.
Of all the titles McGill has won, this one stands out for head coach Peter Smith.
"I have to be honest, this one ranks way up there," he said. "This was a great season, we have a great team and to be able to come back after not winning last year and win it … it's pretty special."
Smith and goaltender Charline Labonte were both absent from the Martlets last season, as they were part of the Canadian Olympic team.
Last year's title game loss to Alberta marks the only CIS game the Martlets have lost in the past four years, posting a record of 113-1 in that time.
"We're blessed with this program," said Smith. "We have great people, great players, and great leadership and we've had that for years."
Tournament MVP Jordanna Peroff, who had a goal and an assist in the game, says last year's loss was a big motivating factor her team.
"It was definitely a key part of this," said Peroff, who finished the tournament with two goals, three assists. "Coming into the game it was in the back of everyone's mind even if we didn't want to say it."
Peroff's second-period goal was the first of two McGill markers that came in less than a minute. Caroline Hill would score 38 seconds after Peroff to put the Martlets ahead 3-0 heading into the second intermission. Anne-Sophie Bettez opened the scoring for McGill in the first period.
Jasmine Sheehan would extend the Martlets lead to 4-0 early in the third.
However, St. F.X. would make things interesting as Suzanne Fenerty and Erin Brophy would both score to pull their team to within 4-2.
But that would be as close as the X-Women would come as Alessandra Lind-Kennedy would make it 5-2 with just over four minutes remaining and that is the way it would stay.
"That fifth goal going in was kind of a heartbreaker," said Fenerty. "But coming into the third period we were down 4-0 and we kept battling. We got two back and we went out giving all we could and that's all that matters."
This year marked the X-Women's first trip to a CIS final, making the silver medal St. Francis Xavier's best finish to date. Previously, the X-Women had never finished higher than fourth.
St. F.X. head coach David Synishin sees this tournament as step forward for his team.
"We realized, being in this final, what it really takes and we're very proud," he said. "We have a very young team and this is a great experience for them. This is something we can [take] home and be proud of."
Earlier, Queen's sneaked away with third place, beating the host Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks 1-0 on Kerstin van Bolderen's late third-period goal.
Both Queen's Mel Dodd-Moher and Laurier's Liz Knox were fantastic in net, making 33 and 26 saves respectively.