“It’s a feeling like no other.”
That’s the way fifth-year forward Duncan Campbell heard being a member of the Gaels described during a scouting visit before joining the team in 2017.
To understand the behind-the-scenes of traveling with the team and the fire behind their rivalry with the 2018-19 Carleton Ravens, The Journal sat down with Duncan Campbell, another veteran from the Queen’s Cup-winning roster three years ago.
Learning to travel has always been a part of Duncan Campbell’s hockey career. The forward from Brandon, Man., played his junior hockey in the WHL and the BCHL before arriving at Queen’s.
“Being in Brandon […] the closest trip was Regina, which was three and a half, four hours away […] We had bunks on the bus so that we could […] have a nap,” he recalled.
After a scouting trip East, which included stops at Western University and Queen’s, Campbell decided to settle into Kingston for his U Sports career.
His change of scenery also included a welcome change in team travel times.
“The furthest road trip for us [is] Quebec, Trois-Rivieres, or Nipissing or Laurentian,” Campbell said, describing trips that include an overnight stay but are still far shorter than those he would experience out West.
Despite his new location, however, some lessons transcend geography and level of play—including the finer points of bus etiquette.
“[It’s] an unwritten rule that we’ve learned throughout playing junior hockey. This is the time the bus leaves, the bus leaves at that time […] if you’re not early, you’re late,” Campbell said.
“No one will ever show up late. If you’re late, you’re left behind.”
Leaving for a game isn’t as easy as heading home to the GTA for the weekend, though, as Campbell made clear in talking about his own preparations. Prior to trips, he plans assignments, packs bags, and cooks a dinner for the ride.
“We’ll arrive to the rink about a half-hour before the bus leaves just so we can pack up our bags, pack up the equipment trunk, make sure the bus is loaded,” he explained.
Throughout his time at Queen’s, Campbell has also developed a few favorite stops.
“My favorite place to go would be Ryerson, [playing] in the old Maple Leaf Gardens. It’s a very historic rink. They’ve re-done it beautifully. It’s downtown Toronto, a lot of history,” he said, also naming McGill as another favorite.
All told, however, there’s one locale that will likely never top the ‘favourites’ list for any Queen’s player from that 2018-19 team: Ottawa, visiting the Carleton Ravens.
The Ravens and the Gaels have been borderline rivals in men’s hockey since 2009, despite rarely facing one another in the playoffs. During the 2018-19 season, however, the physicality between the Gaels and Ravens reached a fever pitch.
They were two teams that couldn’t stand one another, even when they weren’t playing.
“I remember playing Carleton,” Campbell said. “They like to run and gun, very explosive, very offensive […] They were also somewhat dirty.”
“They like to lay the body, get dirty and physical in the corners, and get under your skin. They rub you the wrong way, they poke you and nudge you away from the puck.”
Queen’s first meeting with Carleton occurred in early November on opposing turf. It resulted in a 6-3 loss for the Gaels after they racked up 23 penalties—including a bench minor called against Queen’s late in the third period.
When asked about that penalty, Campbell couldn’t recall any specifics but said it was likely a matter of pride for the Gaels to meet the opposing team’s undue aggression.
“We were probably just yelling at them, chirping their ears off,“ he said.
“We were just letting them know that it wasn’t going to fly with us, and we weren’t going to back down.”
When the Ravens came to visit the Gaels at the end of the month, Queen’s bounced back and recorded a resounding 5-2 victory even after a rare on-ice brawl occurred between the Gaels’ Graeme Brown and the Ravens’ Brett Gustavsen.
Despite their best efforts, however, Carleton wouldn’t change the trajectory of the Gaels’ season, which was in the process of reaching new heights.
Queen’s started winning that November and wouldn’t stop until mid-January when the Gaels recorded their first back-to-back losses in nearly two months.
It was that late-season stretch that ultimately pushed them into the playoffs and ever closer to their goal: the Queen’s Cup.
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