The men’s hockey team lost six of their last seven games in 2011. But after a five-week winter break, the Gaels opened the New Year with a 3-1 win over the Royal Military College Paladins and split back-to-back games with the Nipissing Lakers in North Bay on the weekend.
Head coach Brett Gibson said the team’s turnaround was sparked by the return of key players like forwards Payton Liske, Jordan Mirwaldt and defenceman Robert Stellick.
“Having them in the lineup gives us more confidence,” he said. “When guys like [Liske] walk in the dressing room it helps us out.”
In the first half of the season, the injury-plagued Gaels relied on first-year players Corey Bureau and Tyler Moore for scoring. The returning veterans made an immediate impact.
Five different players scored in the Gaels’ 5-1 win over the Lakers in North Bay on Friday. Forwards Scott Kenway, Jordan Soquila and Jonathon Lawrance scored in the first period, Bureau notched his 10th of the season in the second period and Moore scored the Gaels’ fifth goal midway through the third period.
But Gibson said Queen’s struggled in their second game with the Lakers, losing 7-3 the following night. Goaltender Riley Whitlock stopped 38 shots in the loss, compared to only 23 the night before.
“The team’s performance is still night and day,” Gibson said, adding that the last three games are indicative of inconsistency in his team’s play.
The Gaels outshot and outscored their opponent in the first two games of 2012, only to be outshot and outscored against the Lakers on Sunday. The weekend results push the Gaels’ record to 8-8-1, tied for eighth place in the OUA East.
The Gaels will return to Kingston tonight to host the seventh-place Concordia Stingers at 7:30 p.m. at the Memorial Centre.
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