Photo by Marc Lafleur
OTTAWA – Women’s hockey was back at the Ice House Friday night as a boisterous crowd gathered for the first time in over 600 days to watch the Ravens women’s hockey team in action. The young Ravens squad would welcome the Bishop’s Gaiters in their inaugural U SPORTS game. On a night when both teams featured a plethora of rookies, it would be young Emily Smythe who would shine the brightest, scoring the game-winning goal as the Ravens beat the Gaiters 3-1.
Both teams showed signs of time off and jitters early in the first as they battled for possession in a back and forth opening five minutes. After a couple of near chances, the Ravens would open the scoring when Sandrine Hachez (Valleyfield, Que.) would walk around a Gaiters’ defender before centering a backhander to veteran Stephanie Chouchani (Montreal, Que.) for the one-handed finish. The goal would prove to be the only one in the first as Ravens second-year goaltender Marie-Eve Cote (Quebec City, Que.) would stand tall turning aside all eight Bishop’s shots in the period.
The Gaiters would come close late in the frame ringing a chance off the crossbar behind Cote while drawing a penalty which would carry into the second period with the Ravens up 1-0. Early into the powerplay Catherine Berger-Dube (Granby, Que.) would walk into a loose puck to the right of Cote and unload on a slapshot that squeezed just perfectly under the bar. The goal not only tied the game but was the first goal in program history for the Gaiters.
After tieing the game the Gaiters would maintain momentum despite being almost immediately put on the penalty kill. After a few minutes of back and forth action the Ravens would find their stride and Jenna Morais (Burlington, Ont.) would streak in on a two-on-one. The veteran would keep and shoot off the shoulder of Gaiters’ goalie Charley Wing (Huntsville, Ont.) and directly onto the stick of Emily Smythe (Whitby, Ont.) who would bat the puck out of midair for her first U SPORTS goal. The Ravens would look like the more experienced team the rest of the period, outshooting the Gaiters 21-11 in the second frame.
The Ravens would keep the pedal down in the third battling for every inch of ice while killing off a series of Gaiters powerplays. As time ticked away on the third period, Cote would make a series of saves while down 5-on-3 to keep the Gaiters at bay. With their net empty and only a minute to play the Gaiters were pressing hard when Morais would force a turnover at the blueline breaking down the right side and in alone on the empty net sealing the 3-1 victory.
With the win, the Ravens start 1-0 for the first time since 2017-18, when the Ravens beat Montreal in a shootout on home ice. The win was a reflection of the work the Ravens did over the extended off-season, balancing team bonding and time training.
Asked about his teams’ effort level, coach Pierre Alain was quick to credit the team effort. “I think as a whole, when you give up just one goal the whole team needs to work hard.” Alain would add the the win was a direct result of the teams consistent effort through the second and third periods. “They won the game because we outworked our opponent. We started strong in the first, but in the second and third we stepped up, scored two goals, and won the game.”
The Ravens will now prepare for their first of many this season against the rival uOttawa Gee-Gees before returning home on Friday, November 5 against the Montreal Carabins.