National champs get their just awards
A ring ceremony was held at McConnell Arena on Sunday to recognize the national championship won by the McGill University women's hockey team last spring. The Martlets registered an unblemished 33-0 record against Canadian university opponents, including a 27-0 mark in league and post-season play, en route to capturing their third CIS title in four years.
The Martlets have picked up where they left off last season and sit atop the Quebec conference with a 3-0 record, after defeating Concordia, Montreal and Ottawa to extend their wins streak to 108 games against Quebec league opponents.
"For some of you, playing for McGill could be the peak of your greatest experience in hockey," said Drew Love, the executive director of athletics and recreation to the group of assembled players, alumni and families. "For others who have moved on to represent Canada, we're so proud of you."
It's been a Cinderella fairytale for the Martlets, who were arguably one of the worst teams in the country two decades ago but will now be gunning for their sixth straight appearance in the CIS gold medal game.
"We've really been blessed over the years to have a group of great student-athletes who play with class, dignity and cohesiveness," said head coach Peter Smith, who recently became only the second McGill coach in any sport, to reach the 300-win milestone behind the McGill bench. Currently in his 11th campaign, Smith owns a 303-109-31 record in 443 games overall.
"They have a certain culture and legacy that gets passed on from year to year through the great leadership that we have on our teams. But we work very hard at developing that leadership and the girls buy in to what we want to accomplish.
Smith explained that what separates the Martlets from a lot of other teams is a relentless pursuit of excellence, both in the classroom and on the ice.
"The thing I will remember most about the 2010-11 squad is an incredible work ethic in practice,'" he said. "They practiced better than any team that I've coached and the only team that will practice better than them is the team that we have this year," he said, half serious, half jokingly.
"I can only remember two practices last year where we were a little bit subpar over the course of the entire year. I can't imagine a team that was more focused, worked harder and was more competitive in practice, so I give them all the credit."