After making their first Queen’s Cup final in 36 years last season, the men’s hockey team won’t see lightning strike twice. In this year’s OUA playoffs, Queen’s lost to the Concordia Stingers 2-1 in a best of three series, ending their season on Sunday.
By looking at the stats, anyone could’ve won the second-round series. It wasn’t clear-cut in any team’s favour.
After losing their first game on home ice 4-2, Queen’s headed into game two desperate to force a sudden death game three. With goaltender Kevin Bailie making 45 saves and recording a shutout, the Gaels won 3-0. It secured them one last chance to move on in the OUA playoffs.
“I knew that if we lost, it was my last hockey game ever,” Bailie, who’s in his last year of eligibility, told The Journal in an interview. “I think there was a little bit of that emotional side in it and the realization that if this is the last time I get to play a real meaningful game of hockey, I want to go out on my own terms.”
Despite Queen’s taking a 1-0 lead in the second period in game three with a goal from Slater Doggett, the series’ deciding game was very much a case of back-and-forth play. Down 2-1 to Concordia with just under seven minutes left to play, Gaels forward Jaden Lindo scored, forcing overtime. Unfortunately for Queen’s, it was short-lived.
Just 51 seconds into the extra frame, Concordia forward Philippe Sanche scored on a power-play, in effect ending the Gaels’ historic season.
In an email to The Journal, Queen’s head coach Brett Gibson expressed that despite the loss, there was much to take away from the year his team has experienced.
“Any season that ends without a championship leaves a taste of disappointment, but this was in no way a disappointing season,” he wrote. “There are generational players leaving our program after this loss but they have not disappointed me once.”
“I am proud of what they accomplished over their time here.”
Despite having to deal with a long list of injuries to start the 2017-18 season, the Gaels didn’t let this get in the way of their quest to become one of Canada’s top programs. Not only did they have the third-best record in the OUA, but the Gaels were ranked the eighth-best team in Canada. The team also broke last year’s record of 18 wins in a regular season with 19.
This success continued into the first round of the OUA playoffs where Queen’s dominated the Nipissing Lakers. The Gaels settled the series quickly with two consecutive wins, recording an impressive 10 goals scored in the process.
Heading into round two against the Stingers, Gibson acknowledged the strength of their rival and the nature of the series to follow.
“I knew coming into the series that the margin of error between the [two] teams was very slim,” he wrote. “One very good team was going to be eliminated and unfortunately for us, they found a way to score in OT before we did.”
Now that the season is over, Gibson’s focus is on replacing his graduating athletes. Next year, the Gaels will be without Bailie, Warren Steele, Ryan Bloom, Eric Ming, Alex Stothart and Darcy Greenaway.
Reflecting on his five years with the team, Bailie said the program is night-and-day from when he first arrived at the school.
“It’s been a wild ride. There’s been no player on the ice who has had more fun over the years than me and the graduating guys,” he said of his experience with the program. “The year before I came here, [the program] was called a graveyard where players went to die. Now, it’s a springboard.”
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