By Stephane Arnault, March 13 2015 —
Being eliminated from the playoffs in a blink of an eye is frustrating. Add a blown call by the referees and what you have is a heartbreaking end to the season.
Only 14 hours after being eliminated from Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championship contention in a loss against the McGill Martlets, the Dinos women’s hockey team lost 5–2 against the Guelph Gryphons in a consolation game on March 13 at WinSport Arena.
“Tonight we just made some mistakes that cost us,” said Dinos head coach Danielle Goyette.
But it was the referees who made the biggest mistake Friday afternoon. In the third period, a shot by Guelph forward Kaitlyn Mora clearly hit the crossbar and bounced out. The refs called it a goal, which gave the Gryphons a lead they never relinquished.
“The ref told me that she saw it in the net. I didn’t see it go in the net,” Goyette said.
The replay showed that the puck hit the crossbar and never crossed the goal-line. However, CIS referees aren’t able to view in-game replays, so on-ice decisions are final.
The Dinos came out firing in the first 10 minutes of play. They outshot the Gryphons 8–2. But Guelph goalie Stephanie Nehring shut the door to keep the game scoreless.
“Facing those eight shots in the first really helped me just relax,” Nehring said.
However, the Gryphons lit the lamp on their third shot of the night. A defensive breakdown by Calgary led to Gryphons forward Leigh Shilton being left alone in front of the Dinos’ net, and with a clever deke, she slid the puck past a sprawling Hayley Dowling to give Guelph a 1–0 lead.
Halfway into the middle frame, Calgary defenceman Sarah Astle fired a laser from the point that went top shelf past Nehring to tie the game up at one apiece.
Despite being outshot 21–12 after 40 minutes, the Gryphons were still alive thanks to Nehring’s impressive goaltending.
Early in the third, forward Kaitlyn Mora scored Guelph’s questionable second goal on a backhanded shot from just outside the crease that hit the crossbar.
Dinos players and coaching staff immediately spoke to the refs after the call, claiming the puck didn’t go in, but their efforts fell short.
“I think it’s something we have to review, that when you go to a National Championship you have the replay somewhere because it can end your season by a call,” Goyette said.
With less than 10 minutes left in the third, Gryphons defenceman Katherine Bailey took a shot from the point that went through Dowling’s five-hole to put them up 3–1. Shilton netted her second of the night a few minutes later to put Guelph ahead 4–1.
However, despite the deficit, the Dinos didn’t hang up their skates. With five minutes left, forward Jessyka Holt ripped down the wing and sniped a shot past Nehring’s high glove-side to make it 4–2.
After, Goyette pulled Dowling for an extra attacker. The Dinos had multiple scoring opportunities, but they couldn’t muster another goal in the remaining five minutes of the game.
“We need to learn something about this exit,” Goyette said. “I want our players to see what it takes to go to the finals. We’re going to watch some of the [other] playoff games, and we have to move on as a team. It’s not easy, but we have to grow and learn from what happened today.”
Goyette spoke about her decision to take a page out of Patrick Roy’s coaching book and pull the goalie with five minutes left.
“For me, you could lose 4–2 or 5–2. At the end of the day it’s a loss. The score doesn’t matter,” Goyette said. “I don’t like to lose and at 4–2. I will never give up. That’s who I am as a person and I want these players to think the same thing. It’s never done until you hear the buzzer.”
Nehring had a solid performance, making 31 saves in the victory.
“I knew I had to help the team out here and lead the way a little bit so I just came in prepared,” Nehring said. “We didn’t want to go home with two losses.”
With seasons’ end, the Dinos have five key players graduating who won’t be back with the team next season. Assistant captains Sarah Astle and Erika Mitschke, who was the Dinos’ No. 2 scorer this season, Janelle Parent, who was the No. 3, Jenna Smith and Chelsea Peterson will all graduate this spring.
When asked about the team’s future, Goyette didn’t shy away from the fact that the Dinos have a number of holes to fill.
“We’re losing five graduating players this year and I think the next two or three years are going to be about rebuilding. But if you know me as a coach, I’m not patient and I don’t like to lose.”