As the 2013 Canadian Interuniversity Sport playoffs unfold, perhaps the most remarkable performance came courtesy of the Carleton Ravens. In the first round of their conference playoffs, the Ravens were matched against the undefeated McGill Martlets.
What unfolded was nothing short of legendary as the February 22 matchup saw the Ravens keep the Martlets off the scoresheet during the first two periods. Heading into the final frame with a 1-0 lead, the Ravens were hoping to do what no other team in the CIS had managed to do; hand the Martlets a loss while shutting them out.
With five minutes remaining, the experience of the Martlets caused a shift in the momentum. Leslie Oles (a former player with the Montreal Stars) beat Ravens goaltender Eri Kiribuchi to tie the game. With less than one minute remaining, Melodie Daoust (the leading scorer in the CIS) scored a dramatic goal to give the Martlets a 2-1 lead.
While an empty net goal was a mere afterthought, the collapse of the Ravens was not the true story of the game. The resiliency and effort displayed by the underdog Ravens is what truly mattered. No team had played the Martlets as tough and courageous as these resilient Ravens.
During the game, two of the Ravens leading scorers suffered injuries. Jessica O’Grady had fallen into the boards behind the Ravens net. Sadie Wegner had collapsed in front of the Ravens bench and was down for several minutes. As a gesture of sportsmanship, the McGill trainer attended to her. Both players bravely came back, displaying their character.
Although the Martlets came back to win the game, it took their top two scorers Leslie Oles and Melodie Daoust to reclaim the lead. Ravens goaltender Eri Kiribuchi had the greatest game of her Ravens career. She stopped 52 Martlets shots as the number one ranked Martlets were given their biggest test of the entire season.
While a visibly distraught Kiribuchi was surrounded by supporting teammates, including fellow goaltender Tamber Tisdale, her performance provided fans and teammates alike with hope. The way the Ravens handled the Martlets for most of the game showed that their losing record was not truly indicative of their abilities.
Although the Ravens have had a difficult season filled with many ups and downs, this performance may be the catalyst to make them believe that they can compete with the finest clubs next season. The comebacks of O’Grady and Wegner in this game displayed the tenacity and the heart of this squad. Players like stoic team captain Blaire MacDonald and enthusiastic forward Alex Yallouz are strong women that are great leaders.
After the game, many Ravens players were in tears as they were surrounded by friends and family. While these may have been tears of sadness, there is nothing to be ashamed of. A valiant 2013 postseason performance may lead to a remarkable postseason aftermath in 2014 in which there are only tears of joy.