Aggression was fierce between the Queen’s Gaels and Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) Paladins this week when Canada’s oldest hockey rivals faced off.
The Gaels Men’s Hockey team played the first game of a home-and-home series against their cross-town rivals on Nov. 15. The Gaels won 5-1 on home ice at the Memorial Centre before they head over to RMC on Nov. 17.
The Gaels are currently ranked 13th by U SPORTS in their national men’s hockey rankings, whereas the Paladins are ranked at number 34. The standings are out of 35 teams.
Winning the first puck drop, the Gaels put on offensive pressure early in first period, which would continue throughout the game.
The first goal of the game was scored by Queen’s forward Jonathan Yantsis, ArtSci ’24, with just under 12 minutes left in the first period. The goal was assisted by defenceman Jakob Brahaney, ArtSci ’24, and forward Nolan Hutcheson, ArtSci ’25. This was Yantsis’ seventh goal and 20th point of the season. Yantsis is second place in the OUA for points, behind teammate Dalton Duhart, ArtSci ’26, and right ahead of Hutcheson.
“Duhart and Hutcheson have been great players to play with. All three of us have been successful, thankfully, this year, which is nice,” Yantsis said after the game. “It’s just every day in practice, and then off the ice too, just getting to know each other, [it’s] just the chemistry you build.”
Queen’s forward Hayden Fowler, ArtSci ’25, spent some time in the penalty box for cross-checking late in the first period, but it ended with the Gaels up 1-0. The Gaels continued to put shots on the Paladins’ net in the second period, where both teams shoved each other back-and-forth in the Gaels’ corner at just over the 12 minute mark.
With six minutes remaining, forward Derek Hamilton, ArtSci ’27, scored with assists from Brahaney and forward Cameron Tolnai, Comm ’27, bringing the Gaels up 2-0.
Despite what appeared to be a strong start for the Gaels, the first two periods didn’t bring what Head Coach Brett Gibson was looking for in his team.
“Every time you play RMC, you just have to match their work ethic and I thought we slept-walk through the first two periods,” Gibson said in a press conference after the game.
“They iced the puck 14 times in the second period, so I had to take a step back as a coach and realize that gets frustrating,” he said. “When you’re just constantly going back and lining up you can’t get a flow from the game, so we wanted to jump on them [RMC] really early in the third period.”
Moving into the third period, Gibson’s hopes came true when Yantsis scored his second goal of the game with assists from Duhart and Tonai. The goal put the Gaels up 3-0.
Just after Yantsis scored, Gaels’ Captain Jack Duff, ArtSci ’25, followed suit, and brought the score to 4-0 with assists from defensive player Lucas Peric, ArtSci ’26, and Yantsis.
Queen’s received another power play as RMC’s Mathieu Hébert took a two-minute holding penalty. Gaels forward Alex Robert, ArtSci ’25, scored four seconds into the power play, bringing the score up to 5-0.
The Gaels were on the penalty kill once again following a holding call on Brahaney, who only served 13 seconds of his penalty as RMC’s Brock McNaughton scored on their power play for the Paladins’ first and only goal of the game, bringing the score to 5-1.
In the last four minutes of the game, RMC got another round of penalties after a double-minor tripping call on Josh Spratt and a slashing call on Devin Primm. A 10-minute misconduct for RMC’s Nathan Fox came later with 32 seconds remaining in the game, as well as a match-penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct called on RMC’s Wade Bolton and Queen’s forward Daniel Michaud, ArtSci ’27.
Neither team shied away from the physicality the rivalry brought to the game. In the end, there were 20 penalty calls between the two teams.
“They’re hard team to play against, they come in throwing the body. One thing Brett [Gibson] really keys in on is in our first five minutes of every game coming in there [and] making sure we’re ready, making sure we throw a hit first shift,” Yantsis said in a post-game press conference.
Nothing amounted from the late penalties, and the Gaels took home their ninth win of the season with a 5-1 victory.
One of the key Gaels to watch this game was goaltender Christian Purboo, ArtSci ’25, who was named Queen’s Varsity Student-Athlete of the Week on Nov. 13, OUA Athlete of the Week for the week of Nov. 6 through 12, and U SPORTS Men’s Hockey player of the week on Nov. 15. He saw 18 shots this game and currently has a 1.84 goals against average, which is second in the OUA.
“I haven’t played in three years and then finally getting my opportunity, I was just trying to capitalize on it, and I got rewarded,” Purboo told The Journal in a post-game interview. “It was a team win, it wasn’t all me, and the team’s been playing great in front of me for the past couple of weeks.”
The Gaels play RMC again on Nov. 17 across town as it’s the Paladin’s turn to take home ice advantage at Constantine Arena. Gibson is looking for some improvement from his team ahead of the game.
“Our puck management has to be a little bit better. I think we turn the puck over and trying to make plays we don’t normally make against other teams,” Gibson said.
Despite a rocky start following their success in exhibition, Gibson believes the team is beginning to find their footing again and is playing well.
In anticipation of Friday night’s game, Yantsis touched a bit more on the rivalry between the two teams.
“Just to be able to compete against rivals [and] win against rivals, it’s really big,” Yantsis said.
“These two games are huge for us, so we’re taking it period by period. We can’t take any nights off against them; they’re a good team, we can’t let them get going. So, going into Friday we know what we need to do, and we’ve just got to keep it going.”
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