CALGARY- The University of Calgary Dinos will face the No. 1 University of McGill Martlets this Thursday evening, March 12th in the CIS National Championship tournament. Thursday's game will be the first game for the two teams in round robin play. Action will get underway at 7 p.m. The four-day event begins on Thursday and will run until Sunday at the Markin MacPhail Centre located at Canada Olympic Park, hosting the top women's hockey teams in the country.
Calgary and McGill have faced each other twice before in history. The first time the two teams met was in 2001, the last time Calgary hosted the National tournament. McGill downed Calgary in a decisive 6-0 victory; McGill finished third that year while Calgary claimed fifth place with a 5-1 win over St. Francis Xavier University.
The Dinos faced the Martlets again in 2012. The Martlets came in seeded second in the nation and as the defending champions, the Dinos were seeded third, both teams were placed in what was known as the "Group of Death" with the University of Alberta Pandas rounding out the pool who were ranked fifth. The Dinos played the Martlets in what was one of the greatest games of CIS National championship tournament history. A single goal in the first period was ultimately the game winner for the Dinos. The Martlets were backed by two-time Canadian Olympic goaltender Charline Labonté who posted a 1.06 goals against average that season with a 0.944% save percentage. Labonté had two shutouts in the three games played at the 2012 nationals; Dinos' Sinead Tracey was the only player to beat Labonté.
McGill beat Alberta and the University of Laurier Golden Hawks to win the bronze medal. Calgary went on to defeat Alberta 4-2 in round robin play, and move onto the finals where they won a dominating 5-1 game against the eighth seeded University of Montreal Carabins. Calgary's 2012 Championship victory was the first gold medal finish in the school's history for female hockey.
On this years roster there are seven players from each team that competed for their respected schools in the 2012 tournament. Of McGill's seven returning players from the 2012 roster, three of the players; Brittany Fouracres, Logan Murray and Stefanie Pohlod call Calgary their hometown having all played at the Edge school here in Calgary.
The Martlets enter this years tournament seeded number one and are the defending champions, a situation very similar to that of 2012. The Martlets are a diverse team with five graduating players and will look to both of their goaltenders Brittany Smirke and Taylor Hough who have, for the most part split this year's season. Smirke posted a 1.95 goals against average through nine games played in her second season while Hough, through 13 games played had a goals against average of 2.10 in her third season as a Martlet.
McGill held a record of 16-4-0 in the regular season and were 4-1 in playoffs, defeating Montreal in the RSEQ final 2 games to one. Forward Gabrielle Davidson has helped lead McGill to their impressive record recording 39 points with 19 goals and 20 assists. Katia Clement-Heydra also played a key factor in McGill's record with her own record of 35 points, majority being assists (26). Calgary will have to watch for defenseman Kelsie Moffatt who was tied for third against all defensemen with 17 points (3 goals, 14 assists).
The Martlets are considered a third period team, scoring majority of their goals this season in the third period which is were their goaltenders have also had to make most of their saves. The Dinos differ here scoring majority of their goals this season in the middle stanza.
The Dinos offence will have to be persistent against McGill, who will look to shut down CIS leading goal scorer Iya Gavrilova who not only captains the Dinos but also leads the team in points with 37 just two points behind McGill's top forward. In 23 regular season games played Gavrilova has 21 goals and 16 assists. Fifth year forward Janelle Parent stepped up in the playoffs leading the Dinos with eight points (five goals, three assists) in four games played.
Calgary finished the season with a record of 14-9-5 in the regular season and was 2-2 in the playoffs, losing out in the semi-final to Alberta.
Calgary like McGill has five graduating players and two young goaltenders. Carissa Fischer and Hayley Dowling have stood tall between the posts for Calgary. Fischer recorded 1.95 goals against average in 12 games played while Dowling had a goals against average of 2.10 in 21 games played.
Thursday's match-up is sure to be a fast paced and intense game, as 2012's championship tournament hasn't been forgotten about between these two teams. A quick start and strong finish will play a key factor in determining who will come out victorious in this quarterfinal, both teams are lead by distinguished coaches. Danielle Goyette has been the head coach for the Dinos for seven seasons now while Peter Smith has been on the McGill bench for 15 seasons. Neither team lacks in experience.
Thursday's game will be played at the Markin MacPhail center in Calgary, puck drop is set for 7 p.m. the loser of the match-up will play Friday morning at 11 a.m. while the winner will get a rest day before playing Saturday at 3 p.m.