It was a historic win for the men’s hockey team.
With the Carr-Harris Cup and a playoff berth on the line, the Queen’s Golden Gaels marched into a boisterous Constantine Arena and defeated the Royal Military College Paladins 4-2 Wednesday night. Queen’s game MVP Jon Lawrance scored two goals for the Gaels, while captain Jeff Ovens added three points in his last regular-season game in a Queen’s uniform.
Lawrance said his linemates Brady Olsen and Pat Doyle should be credited with his performance.
“I think it’s mainly just the guys I play with. They did a good job of getting me in position to get those chances and I was just lucky enough to bury them.”
The win was the Gaels’ 13th of the season, their highest total since the 1982-83 season when they had 15.
With the crowd a sea of red RMC track suits, packed to standing-room only and both schools’ bands present, the Gaels quieted the crowd momentarily when Lawrance shoved a rebound home three minutes into the game. But RMC gained momentum in the second half of the period, and it paid off with 12.4 seconds remaining as Matt Fetzner fired a point shot past goaltender Ryan Gibb.
RMC took the physical play up a notch in the second period, but the period belonged to the Gaels, who ended it leading 3-2 on goals from Ovens and Pat McDonough, his second of the year and the eventual game-winner.
The Gaels weathered the storm in the third, and Lawrance added a goal at 8:10 on a pass from Jon Asselstine.
The line of Lawrance, Asselstine and Billy Burke was the best on the night for the Gaels, creating scoring chances almost every shift.
The game took a sickening turn early in the second period, when RMC captain Luke Pierce lay crumpled and motionless on the end boards after being hit cleanly by Queen’s forward Pat Doyle.
Pierce sustained deep cuts to the front and back of his head and was eventually guided off the ice with a team trainer holding his head in place and three of his teammates carrying him.
Pierce later attempted to return to the game after being stitched up, but couldn’t skate on his own and was taken to hospital after the second period.
Doyle said he wasn’t trying to injure Pierce on the play.
“He didn’t see me coming,” he said. “I just got my shoulder on his head and I didn’t mean to do that. … I have a lot of respect for him.
“He comes and plays hard every night—he plays a lot like me and there’s a mutual respect between us. And I hate to see him go down like that but it’s part of the game.”
Doyle went over to apologize to Pierce as he was carted off the ice.
Gibb made 28 saves for the win, and said he was proud of the way the team dealt with RMC’s physical play. The Paladins tried to physically intimidate Queen’s, especially in the third period, but the Gaels held their own.
“It speaks highly to our character. We’ve battled through a lot of adversity all season, having no home rink, practising in different places at different times of the morning all year, and we knew coming in that it was going to be a rowdy crowd and a tough team to play against.
“They had a few more hits, but we had a few more goals, so it panned out better that way.”
Throughout his two-year career, Gibb said he’s gotten used to dealing with RMC players and fans trying to knock him off his game. Wednesday was no exception, as Gibb was manhandled several times, both in and out of his crease.
Although he took a roughing penalty in the third period for pushing RMC forward Richard Lim, he generally kept his composure.
“It’s been something that started the first game last season,” Gibb said. “The crowd, they just love what they do and they were having fun with it. I was enjoying it so no harm, no foul.”
The Gaels now have a berth in the playoffs and will get the coveted first-round bye if the University of Toronto loses both of their two remaining games. If U of T earns a win, the Gaels will face either the Ottawa Gee-Gees or the McGill Redmen in the first round.
Queen’s head coach Brett Gibson said he’s doesn’t favour one first-round opponent or the other.
“I’m just glad we’re in the playoffs,” he said. “We played Ottawa last year and we match up well against them, and McGill took it to us really good the last few games but we had a few guys out. … You’re picking your poison.”
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