The men’s hockey team started the new year with a lackluster three-game stretch, dropping decisive games to Guelph and Carleton before winning a close one against Nipissing.
The Gaels’ first game of 2020 was against a hot Guelph team in the Gryphon Centre. They lost that one, 8-2.
On Saturday evening, the Gaels returned to the Memorial Centre to take on the nationally-ranked sixth Carleton Ravens.
In their previous meeting with the Ravens, the Gaels surrendered a hard-fought 3-2 loss, in which they appeared to be the better team for most of the game.
The first period of the game was relatively tame: there was no scoring and no penalties.
Things started to pick up in the second period. Carleton’s Matt Barberis would receive a game misconduct for a cross-check, giving Queen’s a five-minute power play opportunity.
The Gaels have a generally impotent power play, one of the worst in the OUA, but they were able to take full advantage of this one. Josh Curtis netted his fourth goal of the season for the Gaels, with assists from Jared Bethune and Jaren Burke.
That would be all the scoring they could muster. By the end of the second period, the Ravens had soared back, scoring three goals in the final five minutes of the frame (two of these on the power play) to take a 3-1 lead over the Gaels.
The Gaels battled hard through the third, but Carleton’s Kody McDonald added his second tally of the night to seal the game.
The Gaels had plenty of opportunities to score, but their season-long scoring woes continued. Despite peppering Carleton goalie Justin Nichols with 35 shots, they only managed the one power play goal.
For their final game of the weekend, the Gaels got on the road, travelling to North Bay to play the Nipissing Lakers.
The Queen’s team found themselves down early. Lakers forward Gael Lubwele found the back of the net just 25 seconds into the game. Then, with just over seven minutes remaining in the first period, the Lakers extended their lead on a goal from Lucas Brown.
Down 2-0 to start the second period, the Gaels began to take over the game.
Within the first two minutes, Queen’s Patrick Sanvido scored his second goal of the season to cut the Lakers’ lead to one.
Two minutes later, the Gaels roared down the ice on the attack again, and with his fourth goal of the season, Jaden Lindo had tied the game.
The Gaels and Lakers exchanged a flurry of penalties throughout the rest of the second period. With 1:16 to play in the period, Nipissing’s Mathieu Franche took a costly cross-checking penalty.
The Gaels completed a one-period comeback with a power play goal by Jaren Burke’s, which stood up as the game winner after a scoreless third.
The Gaels have struggled to find scoring this season, averaging only 2.5 goals per game, which is the third-worst mark in the OUA.
Even with a man advantage the team has struggled to put points on the board—on 76 power play opportunities, the team has only managed 11 goals, third-worst in the league.
Although the Gaels aren’t as strong as last season, they are still hanging onto a playoff spot. They currently hold the seventh seed in the OUA East and are two points removed from leapfrogging the Concordia Stingers and Ontario Tech Ridgebacks for fifth place.
The Gaels will be facing off against both the Ridgebacks and the Stingers next weekend in a pair of games with important seeding implications. The last time Queen’s saw these teams was in October, when they beat Concordia 5-0 and lost to Ontario Tech 3-2.
A four-point weekend is just what the Gaels need, but that might be wishful thinking—they’ve only had one perfect weekend on the season, coming in late October with back-to-back wins over the Nipissing Lakers.
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