Hockey: McCusker, SMU score school's first win at nationals

Saint Mary's scored in bunches to beat Montreal 4-2 at the women's hockey nationals, giving itself a shot at mighty McGill on Saturday.

For now, the focus should be on the Huskies, paced by Lauren McCusker's hat trick, getting the program's first win at the CIS championship and striking a blow for the East Coast. Wait an appropriate interval before worrying about the fact they lost 11-0 to the Martlets in their own rink in November.

SMU scored 1:27 apart early in first period to put Montreal on the edge. They tallied back-to-back goals 2:39 apart during the back half of the middle frame.

Montreal, now consigned to playing in Sunday's fifth-place game (likely vs. the Laurier-St. FX loser, since Alberta looks solid), was snakebit. That was typified in the second period when Kim Deschenes beat SMU goalie Jill MacIsaac, but the puck went right post, left post and out.

The lesson here is that as much as McGill and Alberta are head-and-shoulders above most of the teams, Saint Mary's beat a team from Quebec, which has given McGill its toughest competition for much of the season. That's something to be proud of, since Saint Mary's is more East Coast roster-wise than host St. FX. Fourteen of the 20 players the Huskies list are from Atlantic Canada, compared to just nine among the 24 listed on the X-Women's roster. McCusker is from Toronto and Danielle MacDougall, another of SMU's scorers today, is from the Edmonton area, but with those surnames they blend in Nova Scotia.

(Slightly off-topic rant: today's Halifax Chronicle-Herald notes Canadian national team goalie Charline Labonté "is expected to return to McGill next year." She would be a 28-year-old senior, only a year younger than Mike Danton. Since women's hockey actually has 18-year-old rookies, should we expect the national media to write all sorts of scathing columns about this injustice?)
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