On Friday, Queen’s Men’s Hockey played uOttawa for their first game of the season at the Memorial Centre in Kingston. Fans filed into the arena’s vintage tri-colour seats hoping to see the Gaels break their two-game losing streak.
Right from faceoff, Queen’s did a good job of holding puck possession and controlling the play. The arena pulsed with the contagious energy as the Gaels quickly put a few shots on net—none of which made it through uOttawa’s Jean-Philippe Tourigny, however.
The Gaels worked hard to demonstrate home ice dominance. Nolan Hutchen showcased insane speed while applying pressure with the puck, Jack Duff had some good chances on net, and Owen Lalonde fired some nasty slapshots.
The Gee-Gees fought back and used their speed to turn up the pressure as their fast break started to tug at Gael defenses late in the first period.
In the second period, uOttawa took full advantage of the power play and peppered Queen’s goalie, Anthony Popovich, with a slew of shots. Despite the attack, however, Popovich held down the fort; he maintained composure under immense pressure.
A little over 10 minutes into the second period, Queen’s graced the scoreboard with a goal from Jonathan Yansis. It marked his third goal in three games.Only 10 seconds later, uOttawa responded with a top right snipe to tie it up.
However, the Gee-Gee’s weren’t the only ones with a quick reaction time—after only 12 seconds, Ryan Cranford found the back of uOttawa’s net to take back the lead.
The action died down for the rest of the period and into the third. Queen’s held their lead until it all went wrong in the final two minutes.
“We played great for 58 minutes, but we found a way to lose that hockey game,” Head Coach Brett Gibson said in an interview with The Journal.
uOttawa forward, Charles-Antoine Roy, scored unassisted at the very end of the third period to force overtime—his team scored mere seconds into the extra period.
“It’s an early trend for our team, and when you’re playing top end teams you have to play a full game,” Gibson said.
“I was happy with the effort that we had throughout the Ottawa game, but I wasn’t happy about the execution, obviously. Giving up a goal late in the game and losing in overtime [has become] a common theme in the first three games.”
The loss truly boiled down to a few bad minutes. Against uOttawa, Queen’s had more shots on net, and Popovich made an impressive 19 saves over the course of the game.
After the game Gibson met with his team to discuss the outcome. He decided big changes were necessary before they stacked up against Carleton the next night.
Gibson pulled five players off Friday’s top line and replaced them with five new players the following night. Although drastic, he deemed this move necessary.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, and so it really wasn’t a punishment thing. It really is that when you’re 0-3 to start the season you have to make adjustment as coaches that are hard.”
Although it was risky, Gibson’s move worked: the Gaels beat the Ravens 4-1 on Saturday.
“The guys that came in the line-up really gave us life; I thought they were fantastic,” he said.
“Sometimes you just need a reset and that’s kind of what we did. Our depth is going to be our strength this year.”
For Gibson, the season is rooted in a sense of urgency. These first few losses functioned as a reality check for the team.
“It’s just urgency. That’s the big word […] It’s a sprint not a marathon and the urgency to collect points every weekendis a key. You can’t go weekends without points because teams find ways to win,” Gibson said.
Thankfully the Gaels didn’t go without points this weekend.
Playing in front of home fans really made all the difference, and Gibson said, “to get three or four points at home and create an identity at home means a lot to us.”
Queen’s will travel to Montreal this weekend to take on the Concordia Stingers.
“We are a good hockey team right now; we will be a great hockey team, but it takes time.”
Carleton, Hockey, home game, loss, overtime, Popovich, uOttawa, win
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