Oles scores overtime winner as Martlets rally to slay Stingers
MONTREAL (Jan. 25/15) -- Leslie Oles of Beaconsfield, Que., scored with just 44 seconds remaining in sudden-death overtime as No.2-ranked McGill escaped with a 3-2 victory over visiting Concordia in women's hockey at McConnell Arena, Sunday.
The Martlets, who suffered a stunning 1-0 setback to Concordia earlier this season, are now 71-37-3 in 111 lifetime meetings against their cross-town rivals since the CIS formally sanctioned women's hockey in 1997-98.
"We grinded this one out, sometimes you're going to have games like that," said Peter Smith, head coach of the Martlets. "Concordia's tough (defensively) when they score the first goal. They just jammed up the neutral zone and made it tough for us until we could figure out a way to break through."
In a contest that featured a whopping 16 power-play chances, the Martlets had to rally from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to force overtime when Oles set up Gabrielle Davidson of Pte. Claire, Que., for a power-play goal at 16:51 of the third period.
Defenceman Brittney Fouracres, a chemical engineering senior from Calgary, also drew an assist on Davidson's tying marker and finished the game with three helpers. After a bit of a slow start to the season, she is now second among all RSEQ rearguards in scoring with a 3-7-10 record in 14 games.
"Britt's been real steady all season," said Smith. "She plays all situations and maybe the points haven't gone up on the (stats sheet) for her as much as last season but she's been a real solid player for us."
Scoring her 11th career game-winner was sweet revenge for Oles, who had been shaken up on a third-period collision after it appeared that she had been bodychecked, one of the few non-calls in a game that featured 16 minor penalties. It tied her for the league lead in game-winners (4) and extended her goal-scoring streak to seven consecutive games -- the longest streak by anyone in the Quebec league this season -- and pushed her point streak to 10 games. She now has 12 markers in 14 contests, matching Davidson for the team lead. Both also have 28 points, which ranks second in the league scoring race, fourth in the nation.
Things didn't appear all that rosy for the Martlets until the final five minutes of regulation. After a scoreless first period, Concordia notched the only goal of the middle stanza when Marie-Pier Cloutier netted her first of the season. McGill finally awoke from their slumber at 7:26 of the third period when Katia Clement-Heydra tied the score at 1-1 on a power-play.
But the Stingers responded on a manpower advantage of their own at 13:48 when Alyssa Sherrard won a faceoff to the right of McGill goalie Brittany Smrke and teammate Audrey Morand one-time a shot that found daylight through the five-hole. It was eerily similar to another faceoff goal by Morand (also from Sherrard) against goaltender Taylor Hough, in the aforementioned 1-0 victory over McGill when the teams met for the first time on Nov. 7.
McGill had a lopsided 46-14 edge in shots, including a 19-4 margin in the third period but had a tough time solving Concordia goaltender Briar Bache who made 43 saves in a losing cause and saw her record drop to 2-4-0. At the other end of the ice, Smrke saved 12 of 14 shot and improved to 6-2-0.
The Martlets went 2-for-9 on the power-play, while erasing six of seven PK situations. McGill leads the RSEQ conference in PP success (19.5%) but have a surprising league-worst PK rate of 80.7 per cent.
"I would've much preferred to play a little more 5-on-5 hockey because we were a little short with only 10 forwards dressed so we were a bit tired with that many power-plays today," noted Smith, who was missing forwards Alexandria Serpico, Cora Constantinou and Jordan McDonell to illnesses, as well as injured Olympian Melodie Daoust.
Second-place McGill improved to 11-3-0 and sit two points behind the division-leading Montreal Carabins (12-2-0), who clobbered Carleton 9-0 on Sunday. With six games remaining on the RSEQ conference schedule. The third-place Stingers (5-6-3) play at fourth-place Ottawa (4-10-0) on Jan. 30, while the Martlets head across town to confront the Carabins the same day in a game that will either knot things up atop the standings or put Montreal in the driver's seat for home-ice advantage in the playoffs.