It was a scene Queen’s hockey fans have seen before.
Despite strong Gaels support from a raucous, season-high crowd of 622 at the Memorial Centre, the McGill Redmen beat the men’s hockey team 6-2 Saturday. It was the 101st victory for McGill in the 153 games between the teams and also was the first time in the Gaels’ last six games they came away without at least a point. About 100 McGill fans came down on buses from Montreal to support their team.
“It was just a good old-fashioned butt-kicking,” said Gaels’ head coach Brett Gibson. “When you take nine of 10 points, you start thinking you’re better than you really are. … McGill came in and proved why they’re one of the best programs in the country, and they’re the benchmark where we really need to be.”
Things began to go wrong for the Gaels just after the opening faceoff when they were unable to capitalize on a first-minute power play. Veteran defenceman Alex Archibald took a slashing penalty only three minutes into the game and McGill forward Sam Bloom capitalized quickly on the ensuing power play, walking in from the blue line unchecked and blowing a slap shot by Queen’s goaltender Ryan Gibb.
Six minutes into the second period, the Redmen got a break when a long shot from Bloom hit forward Shaun Shewchuk, who was able to collect the loose puck and fire it past Gibb to make the score 2-0. McGill scored a third goal less than 30 seconds later.
The Gaels had a strong chance to reduce the lead, but what appeared to be a goal was waved off by the referee, much to the Queen’s fans’ displeasure, who chanted “Bullshit” and “Fuck McGill”. The Redmen soon added a fourth goal on a power play, putting the game out of reach and spelling the end of Gibb’s night.
Gibson said he decided to pull Gibb based on the team’s poor performance rather than Gibb’s own efforts.
“It just wasn’t fair,” he said. “It wasn’t his night. There’s a couple he’d like to have back, but it definitely wasn’t his fault. I wasn’t going to leave him in there when guys weren’t playing the way they should.”
Brady Morrison took over netminding duties for the Gaels, but McGill defenceman Yan Turcotte beat him only two minutes later on a 20-yard wrist shot from the slot, giving the Redmen a 5-0 lead going into the second intermission.
The Gaels came out of the locker room fired up and scored only a minute into the period when forward Pat Doyle tipped a shot past McGill goaltender Mathieu Portras. Bloom replied for the Redmen with his second goal of the night, but Gael captain Jeff Ovens gave Queen’s the last word, converting a feed from Doyle to make the final score 6-2.
Gibson said the Gaels weren’t prepared to throw in the towel after the second intermission.
“That’s not my personality, that’s not my team’s personality,” he said. “I hate losing as much as they do. I called out their character, and my character guys stepped up.”
Doyle said Gibson’s speech after the second period inspired the team.
“Coach gave us a stern talking-to, and that always wakes us up pretty well,” he said.
Doyle said poor defensive play was to blame for the lopsided defeat.
“We kind of left our goaltending out to dry tonight,” he said.
Ovens had strong words for the team’s play.
“It was embarrassing,” he said. “We’re trying to show the Kingston community that we can play with any team on any night, and tonight we didn’t show it.”
Ovens said McGill’s four power play goals took the Gaels by surprise.
“That was the best power play I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been here for a long time,” he said. “They did stuff that we weren’t prepared for, and that’s something that we’re definitely going to have to go into practice next week and work on.”
Ovens said the Gaels’ improved play in the third period was for their fans, many of whom hung around even after McGill’s 5-0 lead.
“This is one of the few games where people came out and watched,” he said. “People supported us, and we felt like we were letting them down. … In the room between the second and the third, we just said ‘We’re playing for pride. We might not be able to score five goals and come back, but let’s show the people out here that we take hockey seriously and we care.”
The McGill loss came on the heels of a 4-3 shootout loss to the Ottawa Gee-Gees the previous afternoon. Clinton McCullough, Jon Asselstine, and Pat McDonough all scored for the Gaels Friday.
The team is on the road this weekend to play the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes and the Concordia Stingers. Next weekend, they’ll host Concordia and UQTR in their final games before the holiday break.
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